Novel technologies are spurred by commercial innovation & private initiatives. Reduced costs, advanced technologies and materials have turned space into an economical hotspot for entrepreneurial spirits, becoming even more accessible to diverse industries and even ... citizens.
Thanks to reusable rockets, smaller satellites and reliable soft- and hardware sectors such as satellite production, communications and geospatial intelligence is booming with a 100-fold growth of private investments in the last years (from 100 million in 2010 to 12 billion in 2021). Between 1970 and 2000, launching a satellite into space cost around 18.500 USD per kilogram. Today, that number has plummeted to 2.720 USD per kilogram. The contemporary low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites are smaller, have superior onboard computing power and are manufactured with cost effective standards. Since SpaceX’s milestone of the Falcon 9 rocket returning to base, ready for reflight, the company developed even a “rideshare” program allowing small operators to co-send a satellite into orbit for ‘only’ 1 million USD. AI, advanced sensors and quantum computing are providing a tsunami of geo-spatial & deep space data boosting hundreds of new tech companies with cutting edge solutions in geo-positioning, navigation, real estate and agricultural applications. As space tech investment opportunities (terrestrial, orbital, and exploratory domains) already encompass an estimated 200+ billion USD market, the universe seems not the exclusive playground of science fiction storytellers or blurred scientists. The increasing amounts of capital and experience is piling up and giving birth to new space ventures that open unseen doors: in-space manufacturing, in space compilation of larger infrastructures, commercial space stations, first steps into the exploration of asteroid mining, quantum security, space cleantech, space cleantech / debris collection, space tourism, new types of propulsion, prototypes Mars bases, hypersonic travel a.o.
Space Tech Expert Panel
Pieter Deleye is the Industry Manager of the ESA Space Solutions Center Belgium supporting long established space companies as well as start-ups in their market and finding touch points with terrestrial industries for funding & product and service development. As such, he has assisted building up new projects for the European Commission and ESA for start-ups and companies
1) from different industries to utilize space assets such as images, communication & positioning within their innovation roadmaps,
2) to develop innovative upstream and downstream product & service development.
Pieter studied Business Engineering at the University of Antwerp. The degree is a business degree supported with basics in engineering, enabling him to make links between high-tech technologies and new business applications. In the last years of his master he specialized in space matters with a thesis on the potential commercialization of space research infrastructure (Research infrastructure in Belgium, space analogues, sub-orbital rockets, in-orbit facilities) of Belgium.
With a degree in Aerospace Engineering from Delft University of Technology, Louis has launched his career at EY Subsidia. As part of this team of engineers, he aligns the R&D funding needs of SMEs and corporates with the available subsidy instruments on regional, federal and European levels. Through this experience, he applied his background across various industries, enabling him to obtain a holistic view of innovation and its incorporation in business. With a thorough understanding of state-of-the-art space technology and its impact on the fourth industrial revolution, Louis has come to understand the importance of integrated space tech in the society of today and tomorrow.
Kris Vanderhauwaert is managing director of VRI, the Flemish Space Industry association. Since 2019, he acts as manager of the Flanders Space cluster organisation created within VRI aiming at boosting the development of a space economy in Flanders. At European level, he is involved in the activities of SME4SPACE, the representative organisation of SMEs in Europe’s space industry. KV became counsellor of the Minister of Science Policy where he was responsible for providing policy advice for space, aeronautics and defence related matters. He held this position for more than seven years. In 2011, he joined the European Commission as Belgian national expert for the execution of the European GNSS programmes Galileo and EGNOS. In 2012, KV became assistant-director at the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, an international research institute located in Belgium.
Jürgen Ingels is entrepreneur and venture capitalist. He was the founder and CFO of Clear2Pay, a leading payments technology company. Under his leadership, he grew the company to one of the world leaders in payment software with more than 1,200 employees in 14 countries. In 2014, Clear2Pay was sold to FIS (NYSE), of the biggest fintech companies worldwide. Today, Jürgen is managing director of SmartFin, the fund targets promising European technology companies. Jürgen is also the initiator of SuperNova and The Big Score, two important Belgian technology and innovation events. He is involved in various companies like WDP (Euronext/BEL20), Materialise (NASDAQ), Ghelamco, Itiviti, Projective, Guardsquare, UnifiedPost Group (Euronext), Deliverect, ... He is also the author of the book Start Grow Sell. In the book he reveals 50 lessons he has learned as a top entrepreneur. He gives concrete, practical tips about how you can take your company to the next level.
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The launch sector is on fire. Large amounts of capital are being pumped in as the increased commercial interest in space is resulting with more satellites entering orbit each year. Experts estimate that nearly 1.000 satellites will be launched into orbit each year during the 2020s, building up to 15.000 satellites by 2028. This will allow access to more data than ever before.