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It seems I’m definitely not the only one. The space sector continues to see an explosion of growth as the barriers to entry are getting lower. With the cost of sending satellites into space going down, plus increased Government support and funding, the space sector is no longer the preserve of the few large space primes.
There are a huge number of applications for using satellite data – communications, scientific, earth observation and geospatial data – to create new apps, products and services which can solve real global problems and provide game-changing business solutions. Entrepreneurs are grasping these opportunities so we’re continuing to see the creation of agile and innovative start-ups in this area.
I’m COO of Spacetime, a space start-up which is using real-time, wide-angle, high-resolution satellite earth observation data, to create a live Virtual Reality experience of being in space: the “virtual astronaut”. Our aim is to democratise space, taking people on a highly memorable, emotional and personal journey – ultimately enhancing people’s interest and engagement with space. There are also R&D, marketing, educational and meteorological applications of this technology.
The space sector is wide and varied and there are so many different types of roles available within it – from deeply technical to business focussed, I’ve even met space artists. I would encourage everyone with an interest, particularly women, to consider a career and/or starting a business in this sector. It is still predominantly male-dominated, but the gender balance is improving. That’s why initiatives such as SETsquared’s and the UK Space Agency’s women’s Space Entrepreneur’s Programme are really welcome and very much needed.
I recently attended one of SETsquared’s Entrepreneur’s Programmes. One of the most useful aspects was the variety of people and business ideas that I came across and the cross-pollination of ideas this brings. You get to talk to mentors who’ve been there and done it before and their feedback on your business is incredibly valuable. The live pitch sessions at the end of the second day were also an invaluable experience. I’m pitching the business on a day-to-day basis to a wide range of stakeholders and to get the opportunity to do this amongst friendly fire, has really enabled me to improve.
If you’re innovating with the downstream elements of space missions, such as location/mapping data – you may not consider yourself to be a ‘space’ entrepreneur or start-up but all applications using satellite data are relevant to this programme.
My advice to any would-be female space entrepreneurs is to have confidence. There may not see many other leaders who look like you in the sector yet, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be there or that you’re not right!
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