Last month Techstars and Starburst announced the launch of the Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator in partnership with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, U.S. Air Force, Lockheed Martin, Maxar Technologies, SAIC, and Israel Aerospace Industries North America (IAI North America). This program is the first of its kind, bringing together industrial, military, and civil space leaders to support entrepreneurs disrupting the space industry.
Venture funding for space tech companies is at a high point and still rising, federal funding and interest in space is strong, and thanks to rapid commercial innovation in launch capabilities, it’s never been easier for an entrepreneur to get their technology into orbit.
While this is the first space-focused accelerator program for Techstars, this isn’t our first time investing in space-oriented companies, such as Techstars portfolio companies like Slingshot Aerospace (Techstars LA), Kepler Communications (Techstars Seattle), and Skywatch (Techstars NYC).
If you’re an entrepreneur building a space tech company, we want to hear from you! Classic “NewSpace” categories we’re interested in include: SmallSats, Geospatial analytics, Robotics, Avionics, Communications, Earth Observation, In-Space Propulsion, Navigation, Perception, Systems on Chip Computing, Antennas, and Photonics.
Just as technologies developed for the space industry have found their way into other uses (velcro, GPS, freeze drying, LASIK, dustbusters), the space industry is similarly looking to adapt and partner with commercial technologies. We’re interested in relevant technologies developed for industries as diverse as automotive, agriculture, mining, energy, and industrial manufacturing. We’re especially excited to invest in companies with novel applications in artificial intelligence.
Examples of broader enabling technologies we’re looking to invest in include: AI, design and collaboration tools, autonomous systems, LIDAR, terrestrial navigation, drones/UAS, advanced manufacturing, edge computing and big data processing, sensors, and power systems (including energy generation, storage, and management).
Does the Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator sound like a good fit for your company? If so, we want to hear from you!
Applications are open now and are due on April 7, 2019.
Want to learn more?
- Join us on March 21 for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) to learn more about what you can expect during the first year of the Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator.
- Request one-on-one time with me by scheduling in-person or virtual office hours.
- Come to a Meet and Greet event on April 9 at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. If you’ll be in town, we’d love to see you there!
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, U.S. Air Force, Lockheed Martin, Maxar Technologies, SAIC, and Israel Aerospace Industries North America (IAI North America) Unite to Disrupt Space Industry
LOS ANGELES and BOULDER, Colo.– Techstars and Starburst announced today their joint effort to help entrepreneurs succeed in aerospace. The Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator, a new Los Angeles-based program, will focus on the next generation of space technology companies and related frontier technologies. Matt Kozlov will be the managing director of the program. Matt previously led the Cedars Sinai Accelerator Powered by Techstars in Los Angeles and has invested in over 30 companies. Van Espahbodi, co-founder and managing director of Starburst, will be advising Kozlov and the broader program, applying his experience of accelerating over 300 aerospace startups.
Building on Techstars success running more than 150 accelerator programs around the world with both government entities and Fortune 500 corporations, coupled with Starburst aerospace industry experience and expertise, this new mentorship-driven accelerator has formal sponsorship from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, Maxar Technologies, SAIC, Israel Aerospace Industries North America (IAI North America), and the U.S. Air Force, with support from The Aerospace Corporation.
With recent technological breakthroughs such as reusable rockets, 3D printing, advanced materials, and miniaturization of satellites (“smallsats”), as well as the introduction and adoption of new business models, the opportunities for entrepreneurs and corporations are unprecedented. New business models will be a focus for the accelerator, and the consortium will be looking to work with startups that have a use case for new space and related technologies in fields such as energy, communications, robotics, and autonomy. Breakthroughs in these industries contribute to why Bank of America Merrill Lynch recently estimated the space economy will be worth more than $3 Trillion by 2045.
“The space industry is massively exciting but also quite complex,” said Matt Kozlov, managing director of the Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator. “We are bringing together vital industry leaders, both public and private, who will help entrepreneurs navigate the industry and provide unprecedented commercial support and mentorship. We will help founders achieve two years of commercial traction in three months. Given the pedigree of our sponsors, I expect this program will very quickly become a vital resource for entrepreneurs building frontier tech.”
“The list of incredible companies just keeps growing,” said Van Espahbodi, co-founder and managing director of Starburst. “The broader aerospace industry has finally embraced the notion of ‘open innovation’ by partnering with entrepreneurs to co-develop products, with a compelling business plan to match. Starburst is excited to advise the program to ensure early-stage businesses have the appropriate tools to compete in this emerging marketplace.”
Applications for Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator open today. The program, Techstars third accelerator program in California, will kick off in July 2019. Startup companies in commercial space or that are developing related technologies are encouraged to apply. Startup companies looking to connect with program staff prior to applying or to get feedback on their companies are welcome to request Office Hours with Techstars staff.
Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Techstars founders connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporations to grow their companies. Techstars operates three divisions: Techstars Startup Programs, Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs, and Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships. Techstars accelerator portfolio includes more than 1,700 companies with a market cap of $18 Billion. www.techstars.com
Starburst is an innovation catalyst in the Aerospace industry. It is the first global Aerospace Accelerator, matching corporates with startups while providing strategic growth consulting for startups and corporations alike. With offices in Los Angeles, Paris, Montreal, Munich, San Francisco and Singapore, the team has built an ecosystem of key players across the Aerospace industry including over 4000+ related startups. Every year Starburst hosts numerous international and national events bringing together Aerospace innovators and puts innovation in the spotlight at international air shows.
Bremen, 1 April 2015
StartupWeekend Space: Bremen, a European event conceived to generate lean space startup concepts through interdisciplinary collaboration has today officially announced the prizes to be awarded to the top three teams.
Held at Bremen’s Innovation and Technology Center (BITZ) on April 10th-12th, 2015. The first, second and third place winners will be rewarded with prizes that can significantly help them advance their presented business concepts.
The winning team will receive 12 months of coaching from Claudia Kessler, CEO of HE-Space, in business proposal writing and business formation. Following the 12 months, the winning team will be coached by Chad Anderson, Managing Director of Space Angels Network, in preparation to present their business plan to investors within their network.
Managing Director of the Space Angels Network, Chad Anderson, acknowledges the importance of the StartupWeekend Space event for Europe by demonstrating his commitment to support the winning team and the event.
“For the past three years Space Angels Network has supported Space Startup Weekends in San Francisco, Shanghai, and Bremen. These events provide an important venue for demonstrating how accessible space has become for entrepreneurs and startups, and it is impressive to see what teams are able to come up with in just a weekend. We’re proud to support the first SWS event in Europe and facilitate the path from conception to growth and funding.”
Both Claudia Kessler and Chad Anderson will be on site at StartupWeekend Space: Bremen. Chad Anderson will also join the jury to decide with other members, on the top three teams to win these prizes.
Other notable guests who will be present in person or via live video, include the Bremen minister of economic affair, labour and ports Martin Günthner, the European Space Agency (ESA) head of technology transfer programme office, Frank Maximilian Salzgeber, the founder and CEO of Mansat Christopher Stott, the co-founder and CTO of Planet Labs Chris Boshuizen and the founder and CEO of Zero2Infinity José Mariano López-Urdiales.
The team to reach the second place will win one day of presentation and on-camera training with Hill Media in Bremen. This will serve as preparation for the upcoming opportunity to pitch their business concept at the Startupbootcamp Smart Transportation & Energy accelerator speed summit and to join the Berlin based accelerator program for one week.
Managing Director of Startupbootcamp Smart Transportation & Energy accelerator, Tanja Kufner is confident that space entrepreneurship is Europe’s future industry to watch out for.
“We at Startupbootcamp, are proud to support the objectives of StartupWeekend Space, through our accelerator program. NewSpace is already reality in the USA. It is only a question of time before we will see more space startups here in Europe.”
ESA in cooperation with the International Astronautical Federation also contribute a third prize to StartupWeekend Space: Bremen enabling two team members to attend the Global Space Innovation Conference (GLIC 2015) in Munich where they will have the opportunity network with ESA Business Incubation Center (BIC) staff and participants.
Frank Maximilian Salzgeber proposes the ESA BIC network across Europe as the natural next stepping stone for StartupWeekend Space entrepreneurs.
“StartupWeekend Space is an innovative way to generate new business concepts. The ESA BIC network could be a possible next step to help turn these business ideas into real companies that create jobs and wealth for Europe. ESA is committed to supporting space entrepreneurship in Europe.”
With less than ten days to go before the event, all 80 tickets have already been sold out. The registered participants come from 13 countries in Europe and represent 18 nationalities including Germany, Australia, Brazil, India, Mexico, Russia and the USA. With this kind of cultural diversity, the business concepts proposed by the participants are expected to be especially innovative.
For more information about the event, please access our webpage at http://startupweekendspace.co/. You can also follow us on social media using the hashtags #BeSpacial and #SWSpace.
StartupWeekend Space: Bremen is supported by the City of Bremen, Airbus Defence and Space, HE-Space, Design & Data, Space Angels Network, the European Space Agency, Startupbootcamp Smart Transportation & Energy, Hill Media, Center of Applied Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) as well as Up Global, a non-profit organization connecting a global community of entrepreneurs across all topics. The organization is headquartered in Seattle, US and is considered a hub for entrepreneurial space.
Tel: +49 176 1756 6909
WFB Wirtschaftsförderung Bremen GmbH
Tel: +49 421 96 00 10
Have you ever imagined going to a space hotel, and orbit the Earth every 90 minutes, instead of your next vacation on the beach? Why not take a trip to Mars as your next life-changing experience? Spring-break on the Moon?
This may look like science-fiction, but it’s the possibility that the near future brings. Recently, Elon Musk and Richard Branson announced plans to independently launch constellations of satellites to provide internet to everyone on this planet. This means that 3 billion new minds will be online in the next decade.
“Technology is a resource-liberating mechanism. It can make the once scarce the now abundant.” P. Diamandis
The disruptive ideas that they can bring to the space sector are endless. So if YOU are not willing to disrupt the current slow-moving and risk-adverse space sector, someone else will. In the US a disruption movement has started, with SpaceX and the Google Lunar X Prize will bring a spacecraft back to the Moon or humanity all the way to Mars…
Where is Europe in this race? Yes, we landed on a comet, and that is phenomenal, but where are the disruptive private projects to create breakthroughs in space technology? It’s time to make space technology abundant to everyone. Let’s make the word Astronaut obsolete (just as it happened with “aeronaut”). The next decades are going to be the time when humanity moves irreversibly off the planet, to the stars. Stop watching the movie, and be an actor!
The best way to predict the future is to make it yourself. If you ever had the need of creating something meaningful, something exciting… and change the world with it, this is your chance. If you don’t like your job, or think it is not leading where you want, stop complaining. You get what you incentivize. This is your chance to make it happen. Start a wave of change for a better future. Join the wave to #BeSpacial. The future is better than you think!
As a kid, I was intrigued about what the future of space would bring. Science Fiction and popular media would bombard us with constant streams of stories about inexpensive and accessible spaceflight, moon bases and Mars cities, all just around the corner. The message was clear: Anyone could go to space. Two decades later, the prospect of a common person taking a “space bus” to Mars is just as far away in the future as it was then. I ask myself, when will that future finally come?
The traditional space sector is a slow moving beast with a notoriously risk-adverse mentality. This is understandable considering the costs. $100 billion for a space station. $100 million for a rocket launch. $50 million for a telecommunications satellite, Yikes!
A wave of change is however happening today. A “NewSpace” movement is taking shape across the world where entrepreneurs, doers and makers are creating space companies with lofty goals, shoestring budgets, and innovative, bordering ridiculous ideas. Launching cheap satellites using off-the-shelf technology? Planet Labs! 3D printing in space? Made in Space! Asteroid mining (and taking selfies in orbit)? Planetary Resources! These and many more are all founded within the last five years. The next five will guarantee you many more.
(Alberto Cuadra and Katie Park, Washington Post)
The success of these companies is attributed to people with various backgrounds getting together, combining ideas and expertise. Planet Labs was formed through discussions held by three guys at a United Nation conference. Made in Space was conceived at Singularity University during a 10 week intensive program bringing together interdisciplinary participants across the entire world. Planetary Resources employs a board of advisors as diverse as the movie director James Cameron and the former CTO of Microsoft David Vaskevitch. Interdisciplinary collaboration seems to be a prerequisite for success in the NewSpace era. Traditional stereotypes are being challenged. Space is going mainstream.
I am therefore happy to introduce StartupWeekend Space: Bremen, an extended weekend where you can be a rocket scientist. You will be supported by experts and entrepreneurs in the space sector, transforming your outrageous space ideas into actual businesses. Therefore I challenge you to join us in April and help shape the future of the most exciting, rewarding and fundamentally important industry possible!
As for the answer to the question at the beginning? The future will only come when YOU make it happen! Make it happen! #BeSpacial!
22nd January, 2015
You too can #BeSpacial! This is the slogan of Europe’s first StartupWeekend Space event. Hosted at Bremen’s Innovation and Technology Center (BITZ) on April 10th-12th, 2015, the event is designed to generate several lean space startup concepts through interdisciplinary collaboration within 60 hours. Especially people with non-space backgrounds are encouraged to participate. During the event participants will have access to several leaders in the global space community – including entrepreneurs, academics, policy experts, technical experts, and business managers – who will act as mentors.
Martin Günthner, Bremen’s senator for economy, labour and ports believes that this event will greatly enrich the space industry in Europe’s space capital.
“Companies such as OHB, Airbus Defence and Space, and institutions such as DLR, ZARM and DFKI, provide Bremen with a very rich space infrastructure unique in Europe. With Startup Weekend Space hosted here in Bremen, we would like to encourage the development of new business ideas through the interdisciplinary nature of this event.”
The event begins on Friday morning with keynote speech and workshops providing participants insights into the opportunities and challenges in the modern space sector. They will learn key skills related to lean startups and team building, space law and policy, and non-financial and financial support for space startups. The evening will see 60-second open-mic pitches where participants will have the chance to present their best ideas and inspire others to join their team. The selected teams work through Saturday and Sunday to develop target markets, validate their ideas, build “pretotypes” and minimal viable products, and finalize their business concepts.
One mentor attending the Bremen event is Claudia Kessler, CEO of HE Space and founder of Women in Aerospace Europe.
“I have been working for over 20 years within the space industry. I am certain that my experience will be of good value to the participants of StartupWeekend Space. My personal goal is to encourage women to become leaders in the space industry. StartupWeekend Space offers the perfect environment for them to achieve that.”
On Sunday evening each team will give a five-minute pitch to a panel of judges comprising of investors, established industry leaders, and experts, who will assess the quality of each startup proposal. Winning teams will receive prizes and, more importantly, the opportunity to convince investors to support their idea going forward.
StartupWeekend Space is organized by an international team of young professionals with the goal of demonstrating that the space sector can benefit significantly from the contribution of people with expertise outside of engineering and sciences.
Managing Director of Design & Data GmbH and Co-lead for Startup Weekend Space: Bremen, Sebastian Marcu summarizes his experience and motivation to create this event.
“Twelve years ago I joined the European Space Agency as a Young Graduate Trainee with neither a science nor an engineering background. Today I am running my own company providing services to the European space industry. It is a career path that I had never imagined for myself. My motivation to co-lead the StartupWeekend Space event builds on my experience and is a means to inspire other non-space graduates to leave their entrepreneurial footprint on this amazing industry.”
Startup Weekend Space is now looking for media and sponsorship partners to help spread the message and create the best possible experience for the participants. In total 80 people will receive a chance to participate at the event once the online registration opens on the 9th February 2015. The competition to get one of these rare tickets is set to be high.
For more information about the event, please access our web page at www.startupweekendspace.co. You can also follow us on social media using the hashtags #BeSpacial and #SWSpace.
StartupWeekend Space is supported by Up Global, a non-profit organization connecting a global community of entrepreneurs across all topics. The organization is headquartered in Seattle, US and is considered a hub for entrepreneurial space.
Tel: +49 176 1756 6909
WFB Wirtschaftsförderung Bremen GmbH
Tel: +49 421 96 00 10
In concert with an established entrepreneurial community, Seattle has become a premier cluster for raising capital– particularly for private space industries. For more than a decade, the city has quietly hosted several of the world’s most well-funded private space ventures and just today, Elon Musk announced plans for a Seattle office for Mars colonization.
Participants at Startup Weekend Space.
Seattle has nurtured such celebrated brands as Starbucks, Microsoft, and Amazon, but it owes its reputation as the ‘Jet City’ to an older, innovative local: Boeing. Boeing became a cornerstone for Seattle’s economy through funding advances in human air travel, and through its continuing investments in human flight, the company remains close to the Seattle’s current renaissance in jet technology.
“Seattle is a great place to start a space business,” Eric Anderson, co-founder of Planetary Resources said at an August fundraiser. “There’s a confluence of high-tech hardware and software communities, and a highly educated workforce [in Seattle].”
“I like to call Seattle, ‘Silicon Valley light.’”
Planetary Resources, a company researching the technology necessary for mineral retrieval from space, is located east of Seattle, near Microsoft. Anderson also helped found Space Adventures in 1997, the first private-sector company to successfully brokerage space tourism. The company’s first client, Dennis Tito, paid $20 million for six days in space.
Founded in 2010, Planetary Resources has attracted such billionaire investors as Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, and Charles Simonyi (the only private citizen to travel recreationally into space, twice) to the idea of mining in space.
Anderson said that Seattle– like Silicon Valley– has a powerful combination of available capital and innovative culture. Anderson cited the relationship between Seattle’s academic and aeronautics communities as a value partnership for the development of space exploration.
Blue Origin, Boeing, and Planetary Resources are all located within a ten-mile radius of the University of Washington, which offers top-tier programming in computer science and medicine, and accounts for thousands of educated residents in Seattle. The area is also home to such influential space investors as Simonyi, Jeff Bezos, Paul Allen, and Bill Gates.
With close to $500 million in personal investment from Bezos, Blue Origin intends to design, manufacture, and sell rocket technology to other privatized space organizations over the coming decades.
During the “Space Race”– the famous Cold War subplot of spending and political control of outer space– the US government invested up to five cents from every tax dollar into the development of technologies related to space exploration and research.
Currently, less than half a cent of every tax dollar is used in this way.
Government divestment from space has inspired influential investors from Seattle (and around the world,) to apply their knack for business innovation towards operating privatized industries in the newly underserved markets of space.
“In 2012, for the first time, global government spending in space declined… However, the space industry as a whole expanded due to the exponential growth of emerging commercial space companies,” Chad Anderson, European managing director at Space Angels Network, said. “The growth going forward is expected to continue to come from new commercial business models, entrepreneurs, and startups.”
Based in Seattle, Space Angels Network is a global agency of 50 seed and early-stage investors focused entirely on private-sector space ventures. The organization is the global leader in angel investment for private space startups.
Billionaires Elon Musk (of SpaceX,) and Richard Branson (of Virgin Galactic,) have made well-publicized investments in space technology over the past decade, as well, and have substantiated the possibilities for individual investors in space’s private-sector.
Fostering a Startup and Innovation Ecosystem found that whether businesses are just starting, or trying to scale, access to capital is critical for success. Experienced capital– through billionaire investors or through firms– can really make a difference for new companies. Policy makers can also take proactive measures to make it easier for startups to access the capital required to start and grow businesses.
Through available capital for Seattle’s space companies, the city looks to solidify its status along Houston and Cape Canaveral as global centers for space innovation. Seattle earned its “Jet City” credo from a commitment to building airplanes, and contemporary investors hope to return the city to a leadership role in building jet technology for the future.
We invite you to read along and lend your perspective.
What challenges are you facing in your community?
What solutions have you developed?
What questions do you have about these communities?
In July, Startup Weekend Space met for the second time in two years, fielding ten teams dedicated to the development of space technologies, and broader conceptual understandings of space.
Hosted in San Jose on July 25-27, the weekend provided 54-hours of outer-worldly ideation around “NewSpace.”
NewSpace is a simple way to refer to the complex network of innovations and people that power the emerging, privatized market for space technologies. In the wake of funding cuts for NASA and other government-subsidized space programs, American entrepreneurs have looked to each other for the brainpower and funding necessary to push onward and outward.
“Our vision is to enable a new era of citizen aerospace exploration through enabling [consumer space] technologies,” James Parr, a team leader at Makernautics, said. “Makernautics is part of a bigger vision of citizen space exploration enabled by open technology platforms – we’re calling this the ‘Open Space Agency‘.”
Makernautics, a team formed during the weekend, intends to enable 3D printing for satellite, telescope, and rocket technologies, as well as the other components that make data collection possible in space.
“Through scaling citizen networks with open technology, our ultimate goal is to create a community of citizen space explorers that can help [government] space agencies and private enterprise achieve their aims,” Parr said. “One of first proof-of-concept projects we’re close to completing is the development of an asteroid hunting telescope. This is to help citizen scientists characterize Near Earth Objects, as part of NASA’s Grand Challenge to find all of the asteroids that present a threat to human populations.”
The weekend’s winning team, BioCube, conceptualized a line of cube satellites that are intended to help biologists study organic materials in space.
“We are kicking our project into full force,” Christine Fanchiang, team leader at BioCube, said. “We have been in the process of developing our business by meeting with a number of [biologists], business professionals, and founders from other start-up companies. We’re looking at a number of other opportunities that could help accelerate our capabilities, including technology transfers, research grants, and additional startup accelerators.”
Young, hopeful attendees buoyed the room with creativity, and a cross-section of technical veterans helped channel the collective ambitions of the weekend. Leadership for the event offered an unprecedented variety of space professionalism, including media, private sector, and government representatives familiar with “OldSpace,” as well as new.
PongSat Parts uniquely represented a NewSpace blend of scientific proliferation and consumer economics.
The team, formed prior to the weekend by entrepreneur Blaze Sanders, sells pre-built kits for lifting materials into space (~$75.) Sanders’ experience with NewSpace technology includes the development of virtual reality systems, low-space skydiving equipment, and rocketry.
PongSat Parts hopes to make small satellites commonplace across global consumer markets, and caters to users of all technical proficiencies. Sanders used Startup Weekend: Space to refine his team’s business plan and raise capital.
“As opposed to the traditional Startup Weekend event, Startup Weekend Space is less focused on the immediate business plans of a [participating] team,” Reuben Metcalfe, the lead organizer for Startup Weekend Space, said. “The obstacles that space startups face are on a physically larger and more meticulously challenging scale than those facing most startups. We still demand that they build a business plan capable of kicking off on Monday…. It’s just that much harder to do it all.”
Metcalfe, an entrepreneur and self-described ‘space geek’, has been lead organizer for Startup Weekend: Space throughout its existence. Metcalfe is the founder of IDreamofSpace.com, a startup directed at making space travel accessible to broad consumer markets. Metcalfe has worked with NewSpace entrepreneurs for the past two years.
“The [return on investment] for time and money spent on space technologies is much longer, and teams are forced to consider ten or twenty years of economic and political change over a weekend,” Metcalfe said. “But that doesn’t mean they get a handicap from the judges.”
Metcalfe hopes to host the next Startup Weekend Space event in November, in a location outside of the US.