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 trade fair in Paris. The purpose of his visit was the presentation of BioPod, his very first product with impending marketing. With its inflatable module, the hope is to be able to recreate life-enhancing environments thanks to another system “to recreate ideal climatic conditions for life on Earth and in space”.

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

Gets 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 definitely one of them, which is why its name is present among the winners of Future40, the Station F ranking of the 40 most promising startups.

Conversely, investors are pushing. They are European and American specializing in both sustainable solutions and aviation. There are Urania Ventures, Auxxo, 7percent Ventures, Seldor Capital, E2MC, Starburst, Kima Ventures and Bpifrance. In March last year, Interstellar Lab accepted financing of 5 million euros in venture capital.

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

Sustainable cultivation of plants on Earth

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

With such a tool, the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry has seen the start-up. It already has an order book of 70 BioPods, a success. It must be said that such companies are able to desire to test and grow new plants with cheap and sustainable solutions like Interstellar Lab. The research community with universities has also shown interest.

Economical and productive, BioPod reduces water consumption (by 98%) and energy (x20), while increasing yields (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 scientists and space companies there. The founder’s philosophy: to be able to bring life elsewhere in space requires, above all, finding sustainable solutions on Earth as well.

On the Moon and in orbit in space

But the most spectacular thing about the CV for the French nugget is his simultaneous work with NASA and CNES. The American and French space organizations are very interested in being able to insert such modules into space.

NASA would like to be able to integrate such solutions into its Artemis program (next lunar mission), and CNES would be interested in implementing a “Food Production System for Deep Space and Low Circuits”. 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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