“People are starting to see space as a place to travel to and invest in, and it isn’t anymore

Israel’s space technology industry is set to take off, with a slew of new startups emerging as well as government grants of astronomical proportions, such as the NIS 600 million ($176 million) recently announced in space technology research and development. And all this in an area that was considered futuristic by many until a few years ago. Space technology is vying for a position as one of the leading industries over the next decade, and technology costs have fallen. It is no longer a welcoming arena only for big players, but it is also open to young startups. In the last quarter of 2021 alone, private investment reached a record $40 billion.

Starburst Aerospace, an aviation and aerospace accelerator that aims to connect startups with investment entities, recently launched its Astra acceleration program, to attract local Israeli talent to its mentoring program, help them partner with companies, raise funding, and launch their products into the market. Starburst also has ambitious plans for the future: it wants to turn Israel’s nascent space technology industry into a global powerhouse. Apart from Astra, the group has a combined venture capital arm, which invests in some of its portfolio companies.

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Starburst Aerospace-Israel Managing Director Noemie Alliel.

(Starpost Aerospace)

Started a decade ago, Starburst was the brainchild of founder and current CEO Francois Chopard, and is originally based in France. It has four different bases, including in Los Angeles, Paris, Singapore and now Israel. Currently, it employs 80 people worldwide, and has an impressive database of 12,000 space technology startups. “Investing in space is hard, many will tell you. But our mission is to support promising entrepreneurs and help them create the future of this industry.” The group invests in 21 different space-oriented sectors, catering to large companies in need of contractors with small start-ups looking to launch their products market and obtain financing.

“This creates a win-win deal for both parties,” Eliel explained. “Startups get paid for their technology and generate sales, while bigger companies get a design partner who can give them valuable feedback and this also helps startups increase their next round.” And Starburst is now in the midst of fundraising, too. “Once the startups get enough traction, we help them get to their rounds in the first stage,” she said. Alternatively, if they are only in the pre-establishment stage, Starburst’s Astra is using its short three-month training program to help them create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). After the initial fundraising, it then maintains an extended 12-month acceleration program to connect with relevant industry players, help secure deals and create pilots, and provide its advisory and advisory services. “Then, we either invest with our investment arm, US-based Starburst Ventures, or we convince other investment bodies to join in.”

So far, Astra has three new startups, which were accepted as recently as early June into its fast-paced program. These include Tehiru, which plans to rebuild reusable rockets that can carry smaller payloads (think of the Israeli version of SpaceX); CrystalEn Semiconductor, which plans to grow single-crystal diamond to build next-generation materials for the semiconductor industry for use in satellites and solar panels; And finally, CSpace, which is creating a public satellite-based planetary observation center equipped with nano-satellite telescopes for public space observation and astrophysics research.

“These are all big bets, and they may sound very risky, but if they survive, they will be very rewarding,” Alial added. “At Starburst, we understand that the space is tough. Startups have limited time to present their proof of concept, convince investors to join in and raise capital and start sales. Our mission is to make their time to market shorter, because we’ve built relationships with major companies over the past few years and we can support them while they can Just focus on developing their products.” In Israel, Starburst has entered into a partnership with Israel Aerospace Industries; So far the group works with 15 large companies and many local startups, while investing with other entities in its investment companies.

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The Starburst Astra acceleration program is geared towards emerging companies in the space technology field.

(Starburst Aerospace)

Startups first join the boot camp, after which they can apply to the one-year accelerator program. And what is Eliel’s advice to startups hoping to advance? “If a startup just wants to raise money, Starburst may not be the right address. We offer much more value. Our consulting and mentoring is critical, and we want to work with you. We are looking for people who are open-minded and can commit to the journey.”

However, the road to success may be paved with obstacles of considerable size. Citing recent numbers, Aliel noted that 80% of Seed stage startups fail to raise Tier 1 funds, while 97% fail to score a successful exit deal. “To be honest: most startups fail. But those who have gone through our accelerators have had three times more success in raising their next rounds than others in the market,” she added. They need to make a lot of strategic decisions, and trained by experts who can help them succeed.”

Despite this, Allial believes the airline industry is heading in the right direction. I am very optimistic about the future because recently we have seen a lot of government grants. Special astronaut missions also created this hype. There is a renewed excitement in the air. People are starting to see space as a place to travel to and invest in. It looks futuristic, but the future is here now.” Moreover, she believes that Israel’s nascent industry has the right ingredients to thrive: venture capital, a vibrant ecosystem and innovative tech community, and government support.

And while Israel has a dizzying array of space technology startups, the drive to create such technologies doesn’t exactly have the pure intentions these days. She cited the “renewed” space race between the US and China that is based solely on defense needs. “Israel is not in the race yet, nor is Europe. And I think Israel needs access to space, and it can’t count on other countries or allies to protect it.” , and doing our own tasks.” While Israel does not have the same budget as the great powers, it does believe that civilian industry can help fill that gap.” Part of what makes Israel’s space technology ecosystem so unique is that we can do so much with less capital. much. We have the potential to become a space technology nation.”

And when it comes to dreams, Allel believes in dreaming big. She shared her interest in space – from getting her helicopter license to trying to conduct an air show in Israel – which got her first involved with Starburst a few years ago. French by birth, she later immigrated to Israel from the United States, with her degree in business, began to gain experience in the financial side of running a business. She has even tried her hand at starting a few startups herself, which she claims has “really opened her eyes to what the industry looks like.” “When I had the opportunity to work at Starburst, it seemed like my dream job,” she said. Slowly, the group began to grow in Israel and launched Astra in June.

But Aliel is an exception in a predominantly male-dominated industry where few women have found space tech startups or are involved in the financial side of things. “I would tell other women to follow your passions; follow your dreams. If you want a great job, you need to create that space,” she said, noting that the landscape is changing to accommodate more women in the space. “I think the best thing we can do is lead by example, and show young girls that they have role models who can take on those male-dominated jobs. When I host events, I am very conscious and purposeful in my approach to including more women in the panels, but Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes women underestimate themselves or feel like they’re not good enough,” she sympathizes. While Imposter Syndrome is a well-known phenomenon, she believes that as society changes women’s perceptions of themselves will change. To be a part of this change, Starburst has a special form on its website, inviting anyone to give a lecture at its events on a specific industry-related topic. “I am calling on all the women out there to come forward. We need more women in the industry, but we also need to do our part to support those who reach out.”

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