HOW SPACE INSPIRES US ON EARTH
New Space – driving force for innovations
The current dynamics of “New Space” offer high innovation potential for new or improved services and products. Space with its key technologies increasingly affects other markets and creates new opportunities. In space and on earth. In our spotlight ‘New Space Innovation’, we provide current insights into how dynamic and versatile the innovation opportunities of the New Space market are.
WHY NEW SPACE? SPACE TECH AS AN ENABLER FOR INNOVATION IN SPACE AND ON EARTH
For a long time, aerospace was exclusively available to public space organizations such as ESA or NASA. The reasons are obvious: just a few years ago, it was unimaginable that a startup would give it a shot with an innovative idea in this research- and capital-intensive high-tech market. How would it get a satellite into orbit to provide innovative services on earth? Charter a rocket? Unthinkable.. That has changed rapidly in the last few years! For several reasons: main drivers are private players that revolutionize the space market. Since the 2000s, entrepreneurs such as Tesla founder Elon Musk or Amazon founder Jeff Bezos have entered the market with their private space projects. And change the rules of the game. Because space companies like SpaceX or Blue Origin are not only conquering the outer space, but also providing space infrastructure-as-a-service to other companies. Space infrastructure is made accessible. Fast, reliable and cheaper than ever. With newly designed, partly reusable vehicle launcher. In December 2018, NASA put several satellites into orbit with Rocket Lab’s launcher. A startup that consistently relies on additive manufacturing to produce its launch vehicle, Electron, and aims for one rocket a week launching for space. Another key driver for the New Space market is the availability of low-cost, small satellites. One innovative player is the OHB Group based at the German space hotspot in Bremen. With its small, lightweight and flexible micro and nano satellites, it supports the New Space development in the implementation of innovative business ideas. In different innovation areas like earth observation, telecommunications or connectivity.
The developments show: The space market is changing. Into a highly dynamic playing field for startups and established players with the ambition to utilize innovative business opportunities. This is also shown by the growing interest of private venture capital companies: Just a few years ago, there were only a few venture capital companies that invested in space related projects. This has changed significantly since 2011. Our EARLY BRANDS market analyses show that the number of VC players has grown to more than 120 in 2018. As a result, VC investments in commercial space projects jumped to more than $ 4 billion. The positive momentum of New Space has also been recognized by investors such as the Bank of America Merrill Lynch: They expect a huge growth market in space technologies and space-based services. With an eightfold growth within the next 20-30 years. Institutional organizations like ESA also recognized the huge potential early and are looking for proximity to space-related startups. With innovation programs such as the ESA Business Incubation Centers (ESA-BIC). They focus on startups that use space technologies and enable innovative services and products on earth. Cross-market and cross-industry. Whether it’s logistics, construction, automotive, agriculture… It’s about tapping the innovation potential of New Space beyond the space industry.
But how to identify and to utilize exciting innovation and technology opportunities across market and industry boundaries early on? Every day, our innovation and technology experts in Bremen find individual answers to these questions. With our EARLY BRANDS real-time scouting, we keep pace with the times, recognize worldwide innovation and technology developments very early. From the perspective of aerospace, but also from the perspective of our clients that are not active in the space sector. We currently see particularly high dynamics in the following New Space innovation fields:
# 1 MOBILITY & TRANSPORT SERVICES
At first glance, it may seem obvious to think of options in space when combining space and mobility. One example is space tourism. There are some exciting projects here: SpaceX, which wants to let first space tourists fly around the moon in 2023. And begins with the colonization of Mars in a few years. Or the startup mu Space, which plans a space tourism service, much like Virgin Galactic.
Space technologies also enable exciting applications on earth. Space “down-to-earth”, so to speak. Hereby, it makes sense to think in terms of networks and bundling your company’s strengths with those of others: in networks such as Space2Motion, the German space industry and automotive companies are pooling their expertise and key technologies. As a result, the collaboration helps to make vehicles safer, more robust and more efficient. New mobility and transport concepts also offer companies opportunities for their business: Boeing works on autonomously flying air taxis as a means of transport of the future. The commercial application is already in planning. For this purpose, Boeing is working together with the startup SparkCognition. With the help of interface technologies such as AI algorithms, secure air traffic from unmanned taxis is within reach.
Also, the existing air traffic can benefit from developments in the space sector. An example: airlines can increase the performance of their aircraft and save fuel. Especially in times of rising fuel prices, this makes sense in order to stay competitive. With powerful satellites and real-time analysis of air traffic, flight planning and implementation become dynamic. The flight paths of the individual aircraft are automatically adjusted depending on their location, environmental conditions, etc. This leads to cost savings for the companies – and passengers and freight arrive faster to their destination.
Our opinion: the developments in the space sector offer exciting opportunities for new business models, services and products for companies involved in mobility and transport.
# 2 IMAGERY-BASED SERVICES
In our real-time scouting, we see many innovative developments in earth observation technologies – and image-based services. Companies in the agricultural industry, for example, benefit from the technical possibilities and new services. The startup Planet is a good example: with its satellites, it provides valuable data on farmland. Daily and global.
Gone are the days when agricultural companies only get pictures once or twice a month. BASF has recognized the potential and integrates the data from Planet into its digital farming platform. The findings provide farmers with a high added value: better decisions for the management of their farmland can be made faster. And expensive mistakes can be avoided. As a result, digital space image technology helps to optimize operating resources and increase revenue. Another example: The Californian startup Ceres Imaging offers farmers imagery and monitoring-as-a-service. Highly flexible, depending on the size of the farmland. Without any upfront investments or hardware costs. Ceres detects in real-time, long before it is visible to the eye, where water-, fertilizer- or disease-related hazards occur. This enables farmers to take optimization measures and improve their harvest during the current season.
Earth observation technologies also help with environmental and safety issues: the British Eye-in-the-Sky uses new low-cost satellites to see exactly what is happening on earth, no matter if it is dark or cloudy. This is certainly useful for military purposes, but also for the identification and early combat of activities like illegal shipping or forest clearing. Startups with new services will also benefit from providing the data and using it for their new business models. The ICEYE satellites also see everything in bad weather conditions and allow numerous applications on land and water: e.g. for the study of climate change effects or the cost-effective monitoring of oil and gas pipelines.
# 3 COMMUNICATION SERVICES
The combination of space technologies and communication services also enables exciting innovations. Take the example of cost-effective Internet access for everyone. Easy accessible Internet in less developed regions such as Africa. Astranis wants to reach the four billion people without internet access on earth with its small satellites. A prototype was successfully tested in 2018 and reliably transmits high-resolution videos to smartphones and other devices. New Space does not only provide economic but also social benefits. In the future, airline passengers will also experience New Space: The technology company Spacety plans to use its microsatellite to enable WiFi access in aircraft.
Our forecast: space communication technologies will certainly be driving also the Internet of Things (IoT) soon. The startups Hiber and Fleet Space Technologies are contributing to digital transformation in remote locations with their low-cost nanosatellites. From agriculture to logistics and maritime, they offer the ability to easily connect and control sensors and devices – for a small monthly fee. This allows, for example, farmers to increase the productivity and efficiency of their operations. And consequently, their competitiveness. Cloud Constellation provides organizations on earth with secure data storage in its patented global satellite system. The benefit: your data is safe, no matter what happens on earth. The Cloud Constellation example impressively shows that the spatial separation of space and earth alone creates a variety of innovative opportunities that are still unseen today. The creative thinking beyond the earth leads to new and at the same time market-relevant solutions. Investors also see the potential and have invested $ 100 million in the Cloud Constellation project in 2018.
# 4 OTHERS
In addition to the three innovation areas outlined “mobility & transport services”, “imagery-based services” and “communication services”, we see innovation dynamics in other areas where satellites also play a key role as an innovation enabler. At the same time, there are also innovation opportunities around New Space that are detached from satellite technologies: from new materials and the exploitation of natural resources in space to the utilization of new insights into biological life in extreme situations. The applications for aerospace companies and companies in the automotive, food, pharmaceutical and other industries are highly diverse. Applications are currently being developed in areas such as data analysis, 3D printing and robotics. Along the value chains, players can benefit from New Space developments and strengthen their market position. Already today, for example, there is a lot of space technology in a car: sensor systems from aerospace make driving safer. Belt systems and airbag triggers also benefit from the space know-how. And there is much more to come with the dynamics of New Space…
CONCLUSION AND OUTLOOK
The New Space market and its impact on other industries are still at the beginning of the journey – and are developing rapidly. Through innovative business models, services and products. One thing is certain: New Space is here to stay. And it will fuel the opportunities for innovation across all sectors. Interface technologies such as AI, blockchain or 3D printing also play a catalyst role here. This is what we see from our EARLY BRANDS scouting activities around New Space every day. And in our exchange with startups, accelerators and incubators. The New Space ecosystem is developing rapidly.
New Space is more than a trend. Here on earth and in space. Let yourself be inspired by New Space – and the attractive opportunities for your company.
Catch the Future…!