Learn, build, repeat. That’s the mantra Raj Gautam, founder and CEO of start-up QL Space, learned when he participated in the Venture Catalyst Space program.
Gautam launched its start-up less than a year ago and is developing a multi-sensor remote sensing satellite for the space industry and mining sectors.
Once developed, QL Space’s high-tech tool will be used by mining companies as a faster and safer alternative for finding mineral deposits.
Gautam had spoken to alumni about the program and found that the initiative had a “good pedigree” and that many had gone on to achieve their goals.
With the help of South Australia’s burgeoning space industry ecosystem, the program – funded by the Government of South Australia – aims to help international companies prove the viability of their concepts .
Now in its fifth year, the initiative is based at the Center for Innovation and Collaboration (ICC) at the University of South Australia in Adelaide, South Australia. The final round opened today and startups have until November 16 to apply for $10,000 in non-equity support to get established.
“One of the big takeaways (from the program) for me was just to have as many conversations as possible,” Gautam said.
“That one sentence was enough for me to go on back-to-back calls and try to fail, as I like to say, and just give people my ideas and let them punch holes in them.
“Every time they put holes in it, I could rewrite it to make it a better product. It was a game-changer.”
QL Space has signed a memorandum of understanding with three Indian space companies, according to Gautam, and they were also finalists in the first Unearthed “Thinking Critical South Australia” competition and won $50,000 in funding.
“I really think we wouldn’t be here without the ICC because they really helped correct that mindset,” Gautam said.
“In 12 months of building a payload and doing flight tests on it, I don’t think any startup has done it that fast.”
Applications are now open for the next intake into the scheme, which is one of the initiatives to come out of the South Australian Government’s $4 million.
ICC director Jasmine Vreugdenburg said the program removes some of the usual barriers to starting a business.
“If you think about a tech startup and all the challenges it faces, a lot of them are finding a repeatable and scalable business model, which is different from starting an SME,” Vreugdenburg said.
“That understanding of the business model of what a startup is, exploring a new idea or a new product, and receiving training and support around that exact model, is crucial.”
Vreugdenburg said the program also allows startups to network and connect with organizations such as Australia’s science body CSIRO and the SmartSat CRC consortium of industry and research organizations.
“If someone is working on a particular technology and they need help or comparative advice, we can say, ‘well, I know this person has done this, or he is in this field, or she has experience here, and she can open doors and introduce you to her contacts,” Vreugdenburg said.
Venture Space Catalyst has nurtured 29 space startups since the program began in 2018, 90% of which are still in business.
More than 70% of these companies have unlocked funding or investment of more than $13 million, and the program has created 126 new jobs in the space industry.
More than half of international startups have set up an office in South Australia, home of the Australian Space Agency and a major player in the country’s growing space industry.
This year’s impressive Venture Catalyst Space cohort included 10 companies such as Blue Dwarf, ANT61, Orbital Blue and Espy Ocean.
Through this program, tech startup Espy Ocean successfully secured a contract with Commercial Fisheries to use their satellite-based hyperspectral imaging technology to monitor tuna.
“The beauty of this program is that we’re giving startups $10,000 in non-equity support for their establishment, rather than a large sum of money in exchange for an equity stake in their business,” Vreugdenburg said.
“Startup founders need all those other things the program provides like contacts, education, entrepreneurial community, mentorship, and access to potential early adopters of their new technology.
“I think that’s the main thing: if you apply and start, you’ll go much faster with this program.”
The Venture Catalyst Space program 2023 will run from March 1, 2023 to August 31, 2023 and applicants have until November 16, 2022 to apply for the 2023 admission here
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AE Industrial Partners makes significant investment in York Space Systems
Boca Raton FL (SPX) Oct 05, 2022
AE Industrial Partners, LP (“AEI”), a leading space investment and private equity firm specializing in aerospace, defense and government services, space, power and services public, and specialty industrial markets, announced that it has agreed to acquire a majority stake in York Space Systems, an independent provider of small satellites, satellite components and turnkey mission operations. Funds and accounts managed by BlackRock Private Equity Partners have also agreed to invest alongside AE Industrial… read more