Created in 2015 as a spin-off from the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), CONTEC offers space ground station services as well as services in the field of image processing and application. The company also provides a whole ground integration solution.
A Luxembourg base for the European market
With its R&D and production activities established in South Korea, the young company looked at an early stage at the European market and to potential partnerships with European organisations. In 2018, its CEO, Dr Sunghee Lee, visited Luxembourg and was offered the opportunity to participate in the tech event ICT Spring by the Luxembourg Trade and Investment Office in Seoul.
The objective of establishing a base in Europe was to increase our chances of business growth.
“The objective of establishing a base in Europe was to increase our chances of business growth,” explains Dr Lee. “I frequently worked with the European Space Agency and the French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) during my time at KARI, and knew that there are many opportunities here. My first visit to Luxembourg introduced me to a number of space companies in Luxembourg as well as in neighbouring Germany and Belgium.”
Dr Lee also met with the Luxembourg Minister of the Economy and with representatives of the Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA). “LSA advised us about expanding our business in Europe, and it was obvious that the Luxembourg government is interested in supporting international space companies that want to open offices here,” Dr Lee points out. As a result, CONTEC opened its European headquarters in Luxembourg in 2019.
R&D and business partnerships
KARI remains an important partner for CONTEC. In June 2022, the company contributed to the successful launch of the first Korean launch vehicle developed solely from domestic technology, Nuri, and used its ground stations in Alaska, Sweden and Ireland to provide real-time ground support for its payload satellite.
CONTEC has also established a partnership with Luxembourg-based Spacety, a global new space company specialised in small satellites and satellite-based services. “We analyse Spacety’s satellite image data and use our artificial intelligence algorithm to detect and analyse objects,” says Dr Lee.
We are able to use our ground stations to identify space debris, and would like to develop a solution for determining its location together with the University of Luxembourg.
He is now exploring the opportunity of cooperating with the University of Luxembourg’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT). “We are able to use our ground stations to identify space debris, and would like to develop a solution for determining its location together with the SnT. We have signed an initial memorandum of understanding with the centre, and are hoping to find a concrete collaboration opportunity shortly.”
Dr Lee is confident about the next steps for the company. “We completed our series C funding round in June and raised $50 million. Our ambition is now to list our company on the Korean stock market in 2023.”