The space sector is currently undergoing one the most dynamic and inspiring periods of all times. Similar to other major sectors in human history (such as shipping, railroads and aviation, just to name a few), space business has undergone a number of considerable changes. Space activities have traditionally been conducted mainly by governments driven primarily by political prestige, and the space sector has received extensive government support. Following a space race dominated by only governments and leveraging the experience gained, a period of space commercialization began.
Over the last years, new commercial actors have emerged introducing innovative concepts from manufacturing to services. They have the value proposition of bringing the cost down of solutions, making space more affordable and accessible to end-users. With disruptive changes in their technological and market environment, the space sector faces now unique challenges but also tremendous opportunities.
This new wave of changes is causing a paradigm shift in the space sector, referred as ‘The New Space Economy’. Although there is no general definition of New Space agreed upon, we will consider the following definition for the B&M department: “Private companies which act independent of governmental space policies and funding, targeting equity funding and promoting affordable access to space and novel space applications”.
Under this concept, young entrepreneurs are looking for equity funding in order to bring affordable space solutions and applications, and with the potential to open new markets. These new space companies have emerged at all levels along the value chain. Some of these new actors for instance, focus on developing new services by combining and processing available space data from existing satellites with new approaches and technologies. Others focus on developing more affordable launch solutions or providing commercial payload transportation services to the Moon; while others operate small satellite constellations with a standardized and simple design, just to name a few examples.
Success stories such as SpaceX are having a great impact not only on traditional space companies but also on governments. In addition, as new space activities develop, internal business plans are becoming standard with the objective to demonstrate the profitability of new projects and the market potential.
In view of this dual and growing interest, the B&M department will focus in these new trends in the space sector. As a key output of the department activities, participants will be divided into groups and will be asked to prepare a Business Plan Pitch presentation. The teams will be given broad guidelines on what are the expected results (e.g. demonstrating a good Internal Rate of Return) for a space business plan. Each group will decide which business idea to propose. The final presentation will be delivered to a professional jury during the last day of the department activities.
The department faculty will comprise professionals from across the global space sector, which will provide participants with relevant insights on aspects of a good business plan. It will also include to professional visits to companies and a local incubator. This curriculum will enable participants to develop and grow their business knowledge and skills in this evolving space sector.
Key learning outcomes for the participants of the B&M department during SSP’19 will include:
- How to elaborate a business plan and deliver an efficient pitch in front of investors;
- How to evaluate a potential market and where to find the relevant information to determine a reasonable expected market share;
- What are the financial key indicators examined by equity financers and key performance indicators expected;
- What are the boundary elements that shall be considered in terms of legal aspects (such as IPR) as well as in terms of management organization;
- What are the elements often neglected but which are detected by equity investors as weaknesses (such as the absence of a marketing plan or risk assessment);
- How can one learn from recent experiences? (lessons learnt from ISU entrepreneur alumni).
It should be noted that these principles are not only of interest to potential startups in the New Space Economy, but also are of equal interest for other participants from government or large space companies, in order to better understand this new paradigm shift they will be confronted with.