The Victorian Entrepreneurs Who Want To Go To Space

Whilst South Australia won the battle to become Australia’s official ‘space hub’ Victoria is still fostering its own ecosystem of space entrepreneurs.

I went along to a recent pitch night organised by StartupVictoria, The Quantum Leap Program, OneGlobalVenture & Moonshot to learn more about the 4 finalists battling for a startup prize package. The MC for the evening was local legend Garry Williams who even wore an astronaut outfit to set the mood.

SpaceTech is still a relatively new entrant to the startup sector, with hardly any household names, especially in Australia. That might not be the case for long though with an overall investment of more than $4 billion between 2010 and 2018.

Experts predict that the industry will be worth more than $1.1 trillion USD by 2040. Here are four of Victoria’s best space entrepreneurs going for a slice of that cheddar;

First pitch of the night was Ion Systems pitched by CEO Luke Hally. Their mission? Improve the safety, efficiency and effectiveness of operational teams in extreme environments. They’re working on wearables for teams eventually going up to space. Luke said the team was going for a $1.4B addressable market across 2 million personnel who work in the military and space.

Thus far, they’ve built a range of devices that can connect to form a distributed computing system, resilient against any potential electro magnetic problems. They will target the military initially until the space industry grows.

Next came up Conrad Pires from Picosat Systems working on synthetic aperture radar (SAR). He says there is a big problem in how we acquire images of the earth currently from space, often because clouds are in the way or it’s too dark. He made the case for how SAR can be applied in many critical infrastructures and natural emergencies on the earth’s surface.

His team intends to offer SAR as a software service to earthbound companies who want to utilise their SAR empowered small satellites.

The following team up was Eutropia Aerospace building reusable hybrid rockets for the growing Australian and international satellite markets. The founders; Moses & Hamish are just 16 years old, still in high school, but they sure have a lot of passion and know their stuff.

The team is aiming for what they say is a 2.7 trillion dollars industry. Their initial goal is to build an IC rocket for suborbital launches. Despite their age, this team has already done a lot. They’ve tested their initial ‘Athena’ engines more than 10 times already. I have a feeling we’re going to hear a lot more about these inspiring young founders in the future.

Final pitch for the night was Aerospace Systems delivered by George Coullouspas. The goal; extraordinary analytics for extraordinary circumstances. George sees that earth’s ecosystems are under threat and we need better hyperspectral imaging & data analytics to monitor what’s happening on the planet.

The highly experienced and well-partnered team is looking to raise $3 million dollars so they can launch their first satellites into space and start collecting data for agencies on the ground. They are planning to monetise through a ‘daily-information as a service’ model sold to companies in agriculture and other industries such as oil and gas.

The judges selected the young and ambitious Eutropia as the winner for the evening and the crowd favourite was AeroSpaceSystems.

Congratulations to all the teams, may the force be with you. Watch this (Victorian) space!

Nathan is the founding editor behind Just Melbourne. He's into business, tech, triathlons and avocados. He also LOVES hearing from Just Melbourne readers. Tweet him @nathanjmurphy.

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