A global call has been issued to find experts in developing space businesses to help accelerate the industry in South Australia.
The recently established South Australian Space Industry Centre is looking for organizations to run the Space Incubator and Space Accelerator programs. The programs, backed by a $1 million a year space innovation fund, have been established to support space startups and grow early stage businesses.
South Australian Defence and Space Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith said the global call demonstrated how serious the state was about creating a thriving space ecosystem. “This is a unique opportunity for suitably qualified organisations to play a key role in developing startup and early stage businesses and turning them into high growth commercial ventures,” he said.
According to the submission guidelines, organizations have until 1November 10, 2017, to bid on running the programs — a short list of applicants will be announced on November 22. The incubators will then open to applicants on February 12, 2018.
The Space Incubator Program will give year-round support for entrepreneurs including business mentoring, technical advice, market research, networking and business plan preparation to convert ideas into early stage businesses. The Space Accelerator Program will be a structured intensive start-up acceleration program for early stage space-tech companies to rapidly develop their technology, build channels to market and pitch for investment by tapping into a global network of mentors, investors, and corporate partners, giving them access to some of the most advanced technologies and research. Organizations can bid on one or both of the programs and share in a combined budget of $900,000 per year over four years.
South Australia has positioned itself as the space industry hub of Australia as the nation waits for the establishment of a promised space agency. There are at least 60 South Australian organizations with space-related expertise and 11 local space startups, including Myriota, Fleet Space Technologies, Inovor Technologies and Neumann Space.The space industry in Australia currently employs about 11,500 people and generates $4 billion a year in turnover — less than 1 per cent of the global industry.
Defence SA released a report in September into the economic benefit of growing the industry. The report found that if Australia could replicate the performance of the UK space economy in its first eight years after the establishment of a national space agency in 2010, 11,700 jobs and an additional AU$5.3 billion would be generated annually, a 132 percent improvement on current figures. This would take the annual turnover of the industry in Australia from AU$4 billion this year to AU$9.3 billion in 2025 and the number of people working in the industry from 11,500 to 23,198.
Hamilton-Smith said international collaboration was a key component of South Australia’s space strategy and it was fantastic that the state was able to form new partnerships at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide last month. “Local companies have signed agreements with some key players in the global space market, which is an indication of the level of talent we have in South Australia,” he said.
Story by Jim Plouffe, The Lead