We met the most promising startup of Vivatech 2022 (Interstellar Lab)

The French startup Interstellar Lab, launched in 2020, is now present at the Vivatech show in Paris. The object of his visit, the presentation of BioPod, his very first product with imminent marketing. With its inflatable module, the hope of being able to recreate environments conducive to life, thanks to a system for “to recreate ideal climatic conditions for life on Earth and in Space”.

We met Barbara Belvisi, its founder and director. With it, around twenty employees from aerospace (SpaceX, Blue Origin, Airbus) and agronomists (particularly from Agricool) are developing their BioPod in Paris and Los Angeles. Insterstellar Lab targets the Moon, Mars, but also experiments on Earth for the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries and for university research.

Drawing inspiration from nature to recreate life

Promising are the startups that have understood that nature and its knowledge are an open pit gold mine. Without this, it is difficult to propose lasting solutions. Interstellar is certainly one of them and that is why its name is present among the winners of Future40, the Station F ranking of the 40 most promising startups.

Opposite, investors are jostling. They are European and American, specializing in both sustainable solutions and aeronautics. There are Urania Ventures, Auxxo, 7percent Ventures, Seldor Capital, E2MC, Starburst, Kima Ventures and Bpifrance. Last March, Interstellar Lab accepted funding of 5 million euros in venture capital.

BioPod, son premier module “to recreate life”, has completed its nine-month development phase. To go so quickly, Barbara Belvisi explained to us that her teams work as close as possible to their suppliers. An aeronautical company for the composite base, and a German company for the inflatable membrane. The software, to monitor the conditions and configure everything, is in partnership with Dassault.

The sustainable cultivation of plants on Earth

Insterstellar Lab has produced the first prototype of its module by taking over a space in Ivry-sur-Seine. Here, she managed to cultivate vanilla, in an above-ground culture model called “in aeroponics” with water and nutrient supply through cannulas. Vanilla requires very specific conditions that the BioPod can achieve “by adjusting temperature, humidity, air, CO2 level and light”.

With such a tool, the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries have eyed the startup. It already has an order book of 70 BioPods, a success. It must be said that such companies are able to want to test and cultivate new plants with inexpensive and sustainable solutions like that of Interstellar Lab. The research community, with universities, has also shown its interest.

Economical and productive, BioPod reduces water consumption (by 98%) and energy (x20) while boosting yield (up to x300), according to its first measurements in Ivry-sur-Seine. With BioPod, Interstellar Lab intends to deploy entire bases, directly on Earth, to bring researchers and aerospace companies there. The philosophy of its founder: being able to bring life elsewhere in space requires above all finding sustainable solutions also on Earth.

On the Moon and orbiting in space

But the most spectacular for the CV of the French nugget is his simultaneous work with NASA and CNES. The American and French space agencies are very interested in being able to deploy such modules in space.

NASA would like to be able to embed such solutions in its Artemis program (next lunar mission) and CNES would be interested in deploying a “food production system for Deep Space and low orbit”. To do this, Barbara Belvisi told us that they will be able to offer “a more automated and controlled system with the ability to grow plants, fungi and insects”.

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