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Satnews Daily
January 28th, 2009

An Incubator For Space Entrepreneurship

The University of Colorado at Boulder and SpaceDev Inc. have partnered to create eSpace: The Center for Space Entrepreneurship.

eSpace is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating new entrepreneurial space companies, commercializing aerospace technologies created within these companies and developing the aerospace workforce to support them. eSpace is unique in its approach to supporting the creation of these companies by lowering the barriers for entry to an absolute minimum. More than $1 million has been provided to support the launch of the center, with primary funding provided by a grant from the Metro Denver WIRED initiative, or Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development, with additional funding provided by the Colorado Office of Economic Development, CU-Boulder, SpaceDev and the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Located only 10 minutes from CU, SpaceDev will provide the physical space for the startup companies, allowing them to benefit from the process control systems, quality systems, clean rooms and test equipment already on its site. In addition, co-location with SpaceDev enables new entrepreneurs to "rub shoulders" with one of the nation's premier entrepreneurial space companies. In its first year, eSpace will provide five $20,000 grants to promising entrepreneurs to help support new entrepreneurial space companies. CU-Boulder and the Colorado space industry will be primary sources for new technologies and entrepreneurs to seed the eSpace incubator. To accelerate this process, eSpace will directly fund an eSpace Venture Design program through a $90,000 grant to the department of aerospace engineering sciences that will support three hands-on projects for graduate student teams to design aerospace technologies with commercial applications and the potential to transition into eSpace's incubator. The projects will be coordinated at CU by Joe Tanner, a highly accomplished former astronaut and member of the aerospace engineering sciences faculty. The initial round of eSpace-funded technologies includes:
  • The "Colorado Student Space Weather Experiment" to develop nanosatellites that can improve the prediction of solar storms and their effects on Earth
  • A "Mini Jet Engine" for unmanned aerial vehicles
  • "SmartSondes for Atmospheric Sensing" to provide a remote control unmanned aerial system that can measure micro-weather effects near storms and wildfires

The workforce development mission of eSpace also will be accomplished through the innovative eSpace Straight to Space, or S2S program, by providing on-the-job training grants of $1,000 to $4,000 to high school graduates and community college students and placing them in existing entrepreneurial space companies in the Front Range. Oversight and stewardship will be provided by a board of directors and board of advisers comprised of nationally recognized leaders in aerospace entrepreneurship, aerospace education and high-technology businesses.

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