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Space accelerator Moonshot just backed 11 startups shooting for the stars

- April 16, 2021 2 MIN READ
Image: NASA
Space tech incubator Moonshot has nearly trebled its planned investments in local space startups, backing 11 ventures, rather than the four it had planned for 2021.

As Moonshot beds down its space tech accelerator and pre-accelerator programs, CEO Troy McCann said they were overwhelmed by the quality of the applicants.

“We coordinated a whopping 225 interviews between the applicants and our mentors – there’s no doubt we need to increase our capacity to make more investments in the future,” he said.

Moonshot is Australia’s first space-focused incubator and investment fund, and launched in 2017. It tackles everything from robotics to launch facilities and energy generation.

McCann has also built an alliance of nearly 40 investors who also act as mentors, including local heavy-hitters such as Flavia Tata Nardini of Fleet Space and Adam Gilmour of Gilmour Space, plus international space leaders including Amir Blachman, chief business officer of Axiom Space and Dr Andrew Aldrin, CEO of Florida’s Aldrin Space Institute.

The new investments include space data analytics tools and spacecraft that will wirelessly transmit power to lunar spacecraft when blocked from the sun’s energy.

One of the Stage 4 accelerator cohort is Sydney-based Arlula. which also scored a $50,000 investment. The startup develops software to make it easier to access data measured from space.

Arlula co-founder Sebastian Chaoui described his startup as a streaming service for satellite data.

“Our API reduces the time it takes to collect satellite imagery from space agencies by up to 2 weeks, which can be used for things like monitoring or assessing the impact of the recent NSW floods,” he said.

The startups range from Melbourne to Montreal and Mumbai, but plans to bring them all together for the latest accelerator program have pushed Moonshot to once again take the program online.

McCann said some of the companies in the latest cohort are still in “stealth mode”, but among those taking part are:

  • Eternal Light (Montreal, Canada)
  • Exodus Orbital (Toronto, Canada)
  • Beings Systems (Melbourne)
  • Tathya Earth (Mumbai, India)
  • Esper Satellite Imagery (Melbourne)
  • Sperospace (Sydney)

And with the 2021 cohort sorted, McCann is turning his attention to next year and also seeking investors keen to join the space race, a sector sector predicted to be worth US$2.7 trillion by 2045.

“We’re already getting ready for our 2022 programs, and we’re very keen to start offering the teams we invest in access to strategic facilities in and around the hub we establish,” he said.

In the last quarter, US$4.9 billion in investment has flowed into 53 companies.

The Australian Space Agency has set a valuation target of A$12 billion for the local sector  by 2030 and received $150 million in federal funding for the Moon to Mars initiative to encourage local companies to be part of space programs such as the US Artemis lunar project.

McCann is set to address the Senate on April 19 as a part of an ongoing Parliamentary Enquiry into developing Australia’s space industry.

He said the local space industry is only just getting started.

“We’re on a mission to spend the next decades building a world-renowned space tech precinct in Australia by bringing together a critical mass of capital, talent, facilities and commercial opportunities,” he said

“We think NSW and the impending aerotropolis might provide fertile ground for us to cultivate, but we’re keeping our options open as travel begins to reset.”

More on Moonshot is available here.