How start-ups can harness the opportunities of emerging space technologies
The biggest growth area for the space sector over the coming years is set to be in downstream technologies eg taking information and imagery available from satellites, combining it with terrestrial based intelligence and then doing something with it.
There’s a huge array of data available from satellites already in space, not just imagery but also radar and radiation information that can be used to calculate things from temperature and humidity to leaf density.
Right now, this market is opening up rapidly due to decreasing cost of satellite data. Putting a satellite in space is highly expensive, but there are now some significant European projects such as Copernicus that are aimed at drastically reducing the cost of satellite data for end users.
It’s a hugely expanding area, with some very exciting technologies emerging, companies are limited only by what problem they can identify and how they can use space data to solve it.
Here in the South, the two strongest technology sectors are mobile communications and aerospace and it’s the convergence of terrestrial and space derived communications that will be an important step towards creating a global unified web. This is one the key opportunities for space tech companies.
The other major opportunity I see emerging, is in helping countries with developing economies that are dependent on agricultural crops. For example, SETsquared are supporting a start-up called WeatherSafe who help coffee farmers in Africa increase their yields and profits by combining satellite data with weather and agronomic data monitoring.
In partnership with the UK Space Agency, SETsquared is providing specific support to downstream space technologies. There are grants available for this sector which is enabling them develop working products. SETsquared then helps these companies to determine when and how to take their product to market and identify customers. We can help them assess how big their markets are and how to access them. With a large network of mentors and sector specialists we help companies to develop their strategies with advice and support from experienced entrepreneurs. Access to investment is another key area in which SETsquared can offer support. These technologies tend to be global solutions, therefore the level of investment needed is much higher and more likely to come from a Venture Capatalist. So making sure they are investor ready with a solid business model is an important part of our work.