How any company can enter the billion dollar aerospace economy

by Ana Lopez

Opinions of contributing entrepreneurs are their own.

We live in a new era of space activity and the evidence is all around us. From eye-catching images of private sector rocket launches to new satellite and data capabilities to the innovative tools that enable lunar exploration, the aerospace industry is more vibrant and ripe for opportunity than ever before – and it’s not just “space companies”. whose primary business is aerospace activity, services and resources, but for any business.

This may seem counterintuitive at first. The current space economy is estimated at $469 billion, according to the company The space report, and is expected to exceed $639 billion by 2026. This growing economy is fueled by thousands of companies large and small around the world, and many of these companies are not space-specific. Instead, they are “space-adjacent,” meaning their products and services have applications in the aerospace industry, as well as other industries such as precision manufacturing, data science and artificial intelligence, and life sciences and biology.

In this era of dynamic growth in the aerospace market, the challenge for entrepreneurs is to answer the following:

  1. Is their business space adjoining or can it be changed to adjoining space?
  2. What is the aerospace market asking for and what could the company offer?
  3. How does the business leader or identify and capitalize on opportunities that require fundamentally innovative applications for space?

There is no one route or strategy that will lead a space-adjacent company to the space economy. The approach that best fits the existing business model is not necessarily determined by the or business leader. Still, there are best practices and signposts along the way that can make access easier. With that in mind, here are four steps to consider as you look for opportunities in the global space economy.

Related: Entrepreneurs in space: Musk shouldn’t have Mars all to himself

1. Start locally

As with any business venture, opportunities require connections and collaboration. Wherever the company is located geographically (potentially in more than one location), research the area for organizations or companies already in the aerospace economy.

This does not necessarily mean that you should look for a missile launch provider. Instead, consult major manufacturers who may sell technology components to civil or commercial space agencies. Contact regional military installations, which are sure to have space professionals who can help clarify market opportunities and facilitate introductions. Look for local chamber of commerce events related to aerospace and explore industry groups and academic institutions that may offer space-focused seminars and forums. Ultimately, only the or business leader will be able to precisely identify the stakeholders in the local space. Step one is to find them and grow from there.

2. Find new uses for existing IP

When we think of space products and activities, some might imagine breakthrough technologies invented in government-owned laboratories whose applications begin and end in space. This is incorrect. While some space technologies are entirely new (e.g., scientific instruments for biological experiments in microgravity), many are simply the reapplication of space resources and services designed for use on Earth.

Entrepreneurs and companies may already have intellectual property that, with some modifications, can be sold to companies involved in space activities. If you are in the textile business, do you have a patent on an innovative material whose properties could be useful in space operations? If your company is in the food and beverage industry, could you cater for the local space operations on Earth or even adapt your product for consumption in space? In industrial construction, artificial intelligence, raw material procurement, supply chain optimization, the list of industries where existing products can be used in space is endless. When seeking entry into the space economy, entrepreneurs should look to existing IP and consult their growing network of contacts in the space industry.

Related: Space Stories: A Startup Made of Artists, Scientists and Ex-Government Officials

3. Convert data into opportunities

The space-to-Earth market accounts for the bulk of the space economy. Put another way, the massive data streams pouring in from satellites and other space-based assets are currently the dominant area for financial returns. Entrepreneurs and data science companies can find enthusiastic customers looking for insights and services derived from this data. These could include markets for Earth observation, climate monitoring, logistics and transportation, agriculture, water management, public health and many other industries. Here, spatial proximity is defined by the ability to process and compute data streamed from space and sell the resulting insights to markets here on Earth.

For example, a keen understanding of water levels and drought in a geographic region can be very valuable to water companies, local governments and agricultural businesses. The task for entrepreneurs and companies is to consider how to access space-derived datasets, consider their data science capabilities, and look to the market for the intersection between space proximity, data insights, and terrestrial demand.

4. Check for public domain patents

Space activity is valuable in part because the tools and technology needed to operate in space often have important applications on Earth. In the United States, NASA offers a technology transfer program and a database of thousands of his expired patents which are available for unlimited commercial use. The European Space Agency also offers a technology transfer process. These and other space agencies have already done precious, innovative work to create something new. Search these databases, consider your capabilities, and identify patents you can use to bring new products to market.

We are only at the dawn of a new era of space access and exploration, and analysts expect the global space economy to reach $1 trillion in the next few years. Entrepreneurs and business leaders who start exploring opportunities in the space domain today will not only open new revenue streams and drive innovation. They will also take advantage of first-mover benefits and position their organizations to lead as the aerospace market grows.

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