Space companies head to South Africa for Entrepreneur Program

Space companies from as far away as India and Germany will travel to South Australia to be part of the state’s coveted Venture Catalyst Space programme.

The program is an accelerator provided by the University of South Australia’s Center for Innovation and Collaboration (ICC) and funded by the state government’s $1.5 million Space Innovation Fund.

Through support provided through the program, Venture Catalyst Space alumni have collectively raised $11 million in additional investments and grants while creating 90 jobs in space.

ICC Director Jasmine Vreugdenburg said 10 companies will join the 6-month program this year.

“Three international startups will participate in our program, while three will come from the highway,” Vreugdenburg said. “We also have fantastic representation from local South Australian businesses.

“Our collection of new startups will bring unique business ideas and game-changing solutions to South Australia’s space ecosystem.”

“From using satellites to fight overfishing, to designing technologies to grow plants in space, to creating humanoid robots to perform tasks in zero gravity, this cohort has a lot in store for us.”

Premier Steven Marshall said this year’s cohort joins an impressive number of former companies, all turning cutting-edge ideas into sustainable space ventures.

“South Australia is a magnet for space start-ups thanks to our collaborative space ecosystem and programs such as the growing ventures Venture Catalyst Space that are achieving long-term success in the national space scene and world,” said Prime Minister Marshall.

“It’s exciting to see such a strong and diverse representation of local, interstate and international space entrepreneurs who will benefit from the program’s strong culture that enables start-ups to successfully scale.

“We are committed to increasing investment and know-how in the space economy and welcome this year’s cohort to our mission to develop a thriving and sustainable South Australian space sector.”

Ramesh Venkatesan, 2022 participant and CEO of Indian company Grahaa Space, says he is delighted to accelerate his company’s integration into the Australian space ecosystem.

“Due to the Covid lockdowns in various parts of the world, our plans have been slightly delayed over the past couple of years… now that lockdowns have been eased around the world, we intend to ramp up our business and to catch up as quickly as possible,” Venkatesan said.

“We believe that by being part of the Australian program, we can speed up our base-establishment process, work with international communities and strategically respond to the Asia-Pacific and Australia-New Zealand regions much more effectively.”

ICC Director Jasmine Vreugdenburg says she is delighted to finally welcome overseas startups after 2021, when the program was offered virtually to those who could not enter Australia.

“The program has always been a huge success, with two of our overseas 2021 participants now in the process of opening offices in Adelaide,” she says.

“However, being able to bring these startups to Adelaide and experience our burgeoning space sector firsthand is a wonderful thing.”

Venture Catalyst Space began in 2018 when the Center for Innovation and Collaboration received $1.5 million to support the growth of South Australia’s space industry by providing tech-based space startups with the necessary skills to create a globally scalable business.

This year’s new cohort joins the ranks of 19 former start-up participants, all of whom have made valuable contributions to South Australia’s space sector.

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