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Disrupt Space summit successfully kickstarts the commercial space sector in Europe

The first Disrupt Space summit was held on 7-8 April 2016. Over the course of two days, 200 top entrepreneurs and decision makers from across the world came to Bremen, Germany, to solve global industry and sustainability challenges using space proposed by select international organizations and participated in high-level workshops and panel discussions. The event received overwhelming positive feedback and considerable media attention including an international evening news segment on CCTV-America. SpaceWatch Middle East contributor and ThorGroup GmbH’s Chief Operating Officer, Torsten Kriening, attended Disrupt Space and provides readers with an overview.

Disrupt Space panel on Next Generation Space Entrepreneurs with Candace Johnson, Julien Tallineau, Patrick Neumann, Wendy Mensink, Daniel Faber, Krzysztof Kanawka
Disrupt Space panel on Next Generation Space Entrepreneurs with Candace Johnson, Julien Tallineau, Patrick Neumann, Wendy Mensink, Daniel Faber, and Krzysztof Kanawka. Photograph by Torsten Kriening.

The Disrupt Space summit saw participants travelling to Bremen from 19 countries including from Europe, United States, Canada, Singapore, Australia and Kuwait.

15 teams of international and interdisciplinary entrepreneurs spent two days solving six industry and sustainability challenges presented by the United Nations World Food Program, Made in Space, the European Space Agency, Airbus Defence and Space and Local Motors. Each organization chose a winning team. These winning teams also received a €3000 stipend from the City of Bremen to travel to Silicon Valley in the United States this summer as part of an official delegation of space cluster leaders headed by Martin Günthner, the Minister of Economic Affairs, Labour, and Ports.

Winning teams include:

  • ESPACIO who propose an Earth observation and data analytics platform to support farmers in rural area with location-based real-time information.
  • Starshine who aim to create an exclusive brand that manufactures unique luxury products in space using in-orbit 3D-printers.
  • Luna Horizon who aim to use in-situ manufactured solar panels on the surface of the moon to power satellites around Earth’s orbit.
  • Space Mining Access who intend to be the first delivery service in space by providing mining companies an all-round carefree package with the goal of keeping transportation costs low and let customers focus on their core business.
  • Overview VR whose mission is to provide high resolution, fully immersive virtual reality experience to 1 billion people on Earth from within rocket cockpits, the International Space Station, and free-floating satellite platforms.
  • Building Blocks for a Better Life who will provide low-tech modular-based communication devices linked to either ground stations or satellites, providing Internet connectivity to remote communities using co-creation techniques.

The winning teams will collaborate with the organizations who provided the challenges and Disrupt Space in the coming months in order to realize these startup concepts.

Ahmed Mahmoud, a participant at the Disrupt Space summit and team member of ESPACIO, said:

The Disrupt Space summit brought together innovators, entrepreneurs and investors from many parts of the world to connect, provide feedback and build a network that is turning dreams into businesses. I admired the energy and focus that entrepreneurs had during the summit towards solving seemingly impossible challenges.

The summit also saw the attendance of 20 existing space startup companies that competed against each other by convincing close to 80 decision makers to vote for them. The five finalists pitched to a panel of investors on the second day with the winning startup receiving a €6000 stipend for the delegation to travel to Silicon Valley. The five finalists include:

  • Blue Dot Solutions, a Polish startup that is creating services and products based on Earth Observation, Global Navigation Satellite Systems, and ground sensor data for emergency response management and quality of life.
  • Deep Space Industries, an American asteroid mining startup that aims to provide technical resources, capabilities, and system integration required to prospect for, harvest, process, manufacture and market in-space resources.
  • Ripple Aerospace, a Norwegian launch services startup specializing in sea-launched spacecraft for a scalable and flexible launch system.
  • Vali, a Bremen-based software startup which enables engineers to collaboratively build better and cheaper satellites.

After considerable deliberation, the panel of judges chose Deep Space Industries as the winner among the five finalists.

Daniel Faber, CEO of Deep Space Industries and winner of the pitching competition at the Disrupt Space summit, said:

The Disrupt Space summit brought together a large number of amazing entrepreneurs from around Europe and the world who are intent on reinventing the space industry. The environment of collaboration and the connections to supporters within the existing industry will provide a great launch pad for a number of high quality startups.

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