Why technology startups are key to Australia's space sector

03 May 2023 Consultancy.com.au 5 min. read
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In the run-up to the second edition of the Future Technology Program, a joint KPMG and Stone & Chalk accelerator for local space startups, Stone & Chalk CEO Michael Bromley outlines why startups are key to Australia’s bourgeoning space sector.

Australia’s space sector has evolved by leaps and bounds over the last few years with new frontiers being established and explored. While the space economy has remained distinctly local so far, commercialisation of the sector is increasingly promising, reaching new critical areas, including business ventures, government programs, human capital and application of space datasets for benefit here on Earth.

The possibilities of a booming space sector are endless, with the importance of space technologies to increase dramatically in the coming years not only through economic contributions but in addressing some of the world’s most pressing problems like carbon storage and climate change.

Why technology startups are key to Australia's space sector

The real economic impacts of the space industry are already being felt; growing by AU$704 billion in 2021 and experiencing a 6.4% revenue growth since 2020. As one of the world’s fastest-growing and competitive commercial sectors, Australia needs to turbocharge space sector growth to compete on the world stage.

Further reading: Australia's space industry crosses $5 billion revenue mark.

Known to be one of the foremost drivers of innovation, not only in the atmosphere but on Earth, space tech startups hold the key for Australia’s space industry to accelerate its growth as it takes on the global stage to reach for the stars.

Leveraging startups to grow our local space ecosystem space infrastructure has been a key enabler of growth and efficiency for many industries ranging from agriculture, maritime, mining, and supply chain, and is continually impacting the efficiency and capabilities of new sectors.

For example, getting from one destination to another used to take lots of planning and access to paper or static digital maps, however, since the birth of the global positioning system (GPS) which was only made possible by using a critical element of space infrastructure – positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) for travelling as never been easier.

With the ability to track precise location and timing accurately, travelling from one location to another using modern vehicles including aeroplanes, ships, submarines, trains, space shuttles, and cars has become a reality.

What the space sector can uncover and pursue is endless. From navigation to carbon storage developments and software development, space technology really is earth technology. For innovations and technological advances to be discovered, we need to build a strong space ecosystem that ensures startups and entrepreneurs have access to resources, expertise and opportunities to continuously innovate and build their product offerings and scale their businesses.

Many startups are pushing the limits and creating ground-breaking capabilities being developed right here in Australia. Providing them access to the ecosystem required to thrive and grow here on home soil is the key to any startup’s journey towards commercialisation. A robust space industry relies on strong collaborations and a vibrant marketplace of ideas.

Future Technology Program

The aspiration to grow the next generation of startups is one of the main reasons why Stone & Chalk is building an ecosystem for space technology startups. As part of this approach, we have partnered with KPMG for the Future Technology Program to foster and empower early-stage founders in space technology looking to grow their capabilities and infrastructure.

The sole purpose of the program is to ensure promising startups are armed with abundant support and resources from mentoring, and access to capital funding to networking and building a community – to scale their businesses and lead the way to commercialisation.

Investing today, for tomorrow’s innovations

Supporting startups to grow and thrive has always been a mission for Stone & Chalk. This is not the first iteration of the Future Technology Program. Just last December, the program focused on supporting startups tackling supply chain-related challenges or problems.

The five startups – Adiona, Cynch Security, Givvable, Versed AI and Zondii, selected for the program now have access to a community of like-minded founders and industry experts that offer invaluable insights into growing their business offerings and solving business pain points.

Zondii, one of the 5 winners of cohort one, is a global technology company that instantly verifies and validates food and fibre using smartphones. Since joining the program, Zondii has been able to work closely with industry experts from KPMG and meet startups from the Stone & Chalk community. This has allowed the founder to gain access to expert opinions on the agriculture industry and use them as a sounding board.

Information such as ways to accelerate the commercialisation grants, mapping of the customer journeys and even access to potential customer bases are now easily available and accessible.

Many startups have brilliant ideas but are not able to scale due to the lack of support or resources. The Future Technology Program is all about ensuring startups have access to the opportunities they need to take their business to the next level.

Space is a fast-growing and competitive commercial sector, and for Australia to stand on the global stage, it is important to continue investing in our people and technologies. The best way to do so would be to nurture our local startups and small businesses. Only then, can Australia work towards establishing itself not only as a global space industry leader but even more.