International Space Station. (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/NASA)

Startup Street: This Startup Plans To Bring Science Fiction To Life

This week on Startup Street, a plan to build a futuristic catapult that sends objects into the space; a Danish startup that made plantable pencils now plans sprouting cosmetics; Yes Bank’s accelerator program for fintech startups has expanded its reach to four new sectors; and the market regulator plans to facilitate listing of new-age companies. Here’s what went on:

Startup Raises Funds To Build Space Catapult

In 1966, American novelist Robert A Heinlein, also regarded the ‘dean of science fiction’, thought of sending supplies from the Earth and the Moon using an electromagnetic catapult. The space catapult plays a key role in his book The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, which won the Hugo Award—the most prestigious prize in science fiction.

Almost 50 years later, a startup is ready to bring his idea to life. Silicon Valley-based SpinLaunch Inc. is all set to build a machine that can hurl rockets into space, Bloomberg reported.

Also read: This Startup Got $40 Million to Build a Space Catapult

The company, which has secured $40 million from top technology investors, eyes a 2022 launch. SpinLaunch’s kinetic energy system would use electricity to accelerate a projectile to overcome gravity, pushing it outside the Earth’s atmosphere into the space. Instead of using propellants like kerosene and liquid oxygen, SpinLaunch plans to spin the rocket in circles at speeds up to 5,000 miles per hour before letting it go, according to Bloomberg.

SpinLaunch, founded by Jonathan Yaney, will charge less than $500,000 a launch and will be able to send up multiple rockets daily. If successful, that would be the cheapest and most prolific small launcher in the market.

After Plantable Pencils, Sprouting Cosmetics

Sprout, which five years ago launched pencils that can be planted once too short to use, now plans plantable cosmetics.

Danish entrepreneur Michael Stausholm, who founded Sprout, told BloombergQuint in an emailed statement that he expects to launch such cosmetics in early 2019. There’s a need for sustainable focus on this segment, he said.

The line will comprise lipliners and eyeliners that can be planted after use, he said. The products have been developed in collaboration with some of the biggest global cosmetics brands.

Sprout pencils contain natural seed, and the stub when planted grows into a plant. Local startups in India have also started making such pencils.

(Source: sproutworld.com)
(Source: sproutworld.com)

Sprout has patented the pencils in the U.S., Europe, Australia and Japan, but not in India. “We are aware of some companies also in India trying to copy our product and concept,” Stausholm said. “Legally, the patent does not cover India, and legally there is nothing we can do, except they are obviously not able to ship to outside India as our patent would prevent that.”

Yes Bank Expands Fintech Accelerator Program

Yes Bank Ltd., which started its accelerator program for fintech startups last year, expanded it to four new sectors.

The Mumbai-based bank launched Yes Scale, a 15-week accelerator program, for startsup in smart city, lifesciences, and clean, agri and education technology sectors, according to a company statement.

The program is in line with the bank’s vision to cater to the “sunrise sectors” of India’s economy, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Rana Kapoor said in the statement. “The success of fintech startup accelerator program will replicate in Yes Scale to build deep interventions jointly with our corporate clients.”

The program will provide a proof-of-concept grant of up to Rs 20 lakh and access to funding of up to $1 million (about Rs 6.5 crore) through fund partners, it said.

SEBI Sets Up Panel On Startup Listing

Markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India set up a panel to explore ways to list startups through its Institutional Trading Platform.

The framework was put in place in 2015 to facilitate the listing of new-age companies in sectors like e-commerce, data analytics, biotechnology and other startups, according to its statement. It, however, failed to gain traction.

The panel—comprising representatives from the Indian Software Product Industry Round Table, Indus Entrepreneurs, Indian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, law firms, merchant bankers, and stock exchanges—will look into the current framework and identify changes, if any, SEBI said.