Future Space Accelerator – a space acceleration program, figuratively and literally

Michał Przybylski Menedżer, PwC Poland 09/10/19

The Future Space Accelerator program is starting this Friday – October 11, 2019. This initiative of Airbus Polska, Cleanproject and SatRevolution, and supported by experts from PwC Polska, aims to develop technologies that can be used in the space industry.

Jerzy Kustra, Cleanproject CEO, Manuel Heredia Ortiz, Airbus Poland CEO, and Radosław Łapczyński, SatRevolution CSO, tell us why do they want to support the startup ecosystem, what can they give startups and what technologies they were looking for.

Why was Future Space Accelerator created? What is the purpose of this accelerator?

JK: The goal that drives us is to support startups with the most promising ideas and the greatest business potential and to support them in such a way that it is possible to implement their solutions on a large scale. We have the knowledge and experience how to implement bold ideas. Let startups use this knowledge and experience. We will support them at every stage – from prototype to production.

MHO: We have been involved in innovation for over half a century. Because as a global company we have been operating in the aerospace industry from the very beginning and we want to stay in the forefront, we must invest wisely. These investments nowadays also include cooperation with startups. This accelerator is a logical step towards the exponential development of science and technology, and in a sense, let's face it, “we are on a learning expedition”. We want to do it with startups that have no restrictions associated with complex corporate structures – they are agile and are unafraid of challenges. Moreover, what characterizes such cooperation is the fact that there are no losers, only winners. We learn from innovators new approaches to problem solving, in turn they learn the ways od business from big market players.

RŁ: The development of technology and science stimulates the development of societies and economy. A few years ago, we decided to set up SatRevolution and try ourselves in a completely new industry. By trial and error and hard work, we have achieved success and our nanosatellites are already in orbit around the Earth. However, there is still room for new entities in this industry. What is most important for us is the development of science, which is why initiatives such as Future Space Accelerator are important and needed. We have gained the experience necessary to send a satellite into space and to assist other inventors. It is really very simple – we focus on continuous development, technological progress and new scientific discoveries that will help us better understand the universe.

JK: We need each other, corporations and startups. We need innovation and a fresh approach to problem solving, they need a serious partner alongside whom development will be uninterrupted and not linear but exponential. As large companies with capital and experience, we want to use the creativity of innovators, their famous “outside the box thinking”, which has changed our reality many times over the past 50 years. Future Space Accelerator is also a specialized tool for us that will allow us to learn more about spacetech and aerospace on the local startup scene. The program gives startups access to the know-how and business potential of corporations, and gives us insight into their creativity which is infinite as the cosmos. With this in mind, we will jointly develop the technologies and solutions of individual startups.

What will the startups gain from participating in the Future Space Accelerator acceleration program?

JK: We have been operating in innovation for years and during this time we have learned that innovation is the common denominator for the development of both big players and beginner startups. Dynamic development does not exist without it. As we have been cooperating with technology companies for a long time, we got to know their needs, know their strengths and weaknesses, we noticed that we also benefit from this cooperation, because we learn from our younger colleagues.

MHO: Participation in Future Space Accelerator will undoubtedly be the first real “close encounters of the third kind” with big business for many startups. And it will be a pleasant adventure, not a stressful job interview. Already this on its own is a great added value of the program. Innovators will get a chance to present their unusual ideas to an international group of scientists, investors, business colleagues and business representatives – this does not happen every day.

RŁ: We know from our own experience that the road to business development can be bumpy and many things are more difficult than they seem at first glance. We had to deal with various problems at particular stages of the development of our nanosatellites. Even the so-called “red tape”, or bureaucracy, can upset innovators and discourage them from continuing to work. Patents, certificates, permits, approvals etc. – requesting, submitting, obtaining, confirming – it all takes a lot of time, and time is money, a currency that startups never have enough. We can support startups at each of these stages and, as the name suggests, we can effectively accelerate their development. We want more satellites to orbit the Earth, for the benefit of not only science, but each of us in everyday life. After all, satellites operate in the background of our modern day, and we unknowingly make use of their operations constantly.

What startups have Cleanproject, SatRevolution and Airbus chosen for Future Space Accelerator?

RŁ: Startups that look at the sky and whose gaze extends farther than the clouds. It is about the broadly understood conquest of space. We specialize in space technologies, but we are looking for innovators to develop solutions and tools from dozens of fields of science. Over the past few years, we've met many people in the aerospace and spacetech industry, and now we want to open the doors to the universe to a wide range of inventors, programmers, and engineers.

MHO: Startups operating within the B2B model that already have a prototype or are at the early implementation stage were our targets. Our three companies together with them and with the support of PwC Polska will develop their technologies and products in order to transform these startups into prosperous companies that can boast of unique knowhow and implementations in aerospace and spacetech as well as other areas of innovation.

JK: Of course, there is a certain group of startups that at the beginning had a greater predisposition to participate in the Future Space Accelerator program. Since it was addressed from the start to companies with an eye on the atmosphere and beyond, specialists from optoelectronics or robotics came to us. But apart from them, creators of solutions from completely different fields, including biotechnology, applied too. We looked at it carefully and decided that it could be implemented in our industry. Because the biggest enemy of innovation is to be blindfolded, close-minded and excessively cautious.

MHO: Exactly. It is not at all true that solutions for the aerospace and spacetech sectors can only be created by companies that have been looking at the sky from the very beginning, and whose founders spent their childhood looking through a small telescope at the stars shining bright in the night sky. Our accelerator is unique in that we looked at the solutions presented to us very widely and we did not limit ourselves to satellites and rovers. It is our task to find an application for them in our activities or the activities of our partners. AI, IoT, VR, nanosatellites are of course most catchy, but the scope of our search was definitely larger.

What support will young innovators receive from the partners of Future Space Accelerator?

RŁ: We are a young company, because we are only 3 years old, but several of our satellites have already reached space. We have learned a lot in this short time and the new space industry practically no longer has any secrets for us. Now we want to share our knowledge and experience. We will help startups that will soon start working with us to validate their project, provide professional engineering assistance, and direct them to potential investors and clients who have demand for their product or service. And it doesn’t end here. Our experience tells us right now what might be needed – not today but in the future. And all this, along with our laboratories, we are ready to share.

MHO: The support we will provide to startups that qualified for Future Space Accelerator is primarily our know-how and access to the best experts in the industry who work with us. We also have laboratories, one of the best clean rooms in the world, and we are happy to invite innovators to cooperate with us. If we are able to acquire several companies with whom we would establish cooperation, with whom we would change the world of technology and science together, we will have succeeded. It will be a signal for us that what we are doing is good and it should be continued.

JK: Cleanproject is a company that creates the most modern clean rooms in the world. We design them, construct them, service them and help others make the best use of them. If any startup needs an engineer’s keen eye and assistance, they will get a helping hand or even two.

Thank you!

Contact us

Michał Przybylski

Manager, PwC Poland

Tel: +48 519 504 828

Karol Mirosz-Dudkowski

Consultant, PwC Poland

Tel: +48 519 507 332

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