It is still the beginning
I want to and I will build a Space Startup!
With this mission in mind we wanted to build an environment for entrepreneurs, techis, students, officials, VCs and everyone who is interested in the space industry. In the following two years we have grown the Meetup series NewSpaceVision, which Sven started in 2016, to a big conference with more than 250 attendees from all over Europe and have built a media presence with podcasts, tweets, articles and a newsletter. With LiveEO we started our own venture and in the past years a lot of young entrepreneurs came to our Meetups or other events to discuss how to start a space startup. In this period of time thanks to our network of NewSpaceVision and LiveEO we had a lot of discussions with all kinds of stakeholders of the space industry in Berlin, Germany, Europe and the World.
In the past years we made our own small market research project by talking to officials, managers, employees and students from organizations such as DLR and ESA, the German Government, big corporates such as Airbus and OHB. With a few glasses of red wine at the award ceremony of the Copernicus Masters in Tallin we had a longer group chat with Robbie Schingler (Founder of Planet) and Pekka Laurila (Founder of Iceye, also check out our podcast with him). With frequent contact to C-level manager of successful SMEs and Startups such as Astrofein, Parttime Scientists, Berlin Space Technologies, Space Structures, ValiSpace and organizations such as the big attractor for Bavaria AZO from Oberpfaffenhofen you can get a good overview of the status of the German NewSpace scene.
However, if you want to understand the role and the status of Germanys NewSpace industry you have get a deeper dive into the US. Thanks to Sebastian Straube from Interstellar Ventures we got in contact to SpaceX and had several meetings with John Tucker to discuss the NewSpace industry with its different players and the diversity of different regions, nations, continents. John is the former NewSpace strategist and senior mission integrator of SpaceX and also founder of NewSpaceHub. With NewSpaceHub he has built the largest database for Space Startups you will find (https://newspacehub.co/) . His additional newsletter is perfect to start into the day. We always try to share our first-person experience in the space industry with you and everyone who is interested into the most exciting industry.
And in Berlin we could also have a deep link to one of the most vital Startup environments of the world. We met successful founders from various industries and also investors which have no connection to the space industry. Based on all of our experiences in the last years we are very convinced that Berlin is the best place for NewSpace Startups that want to build revolutionary products and do not only want to be an external subdivision of Airbus or OHB. Of course, we have to mention that Bavaria may be the leading space region in Germany. But NewSpace is mainly driven by miniaturization and the impact of the computer industry in both, hardware and software. And this is the chance for Berlin!
In the following I collected ten reasons why Berlin will be the new capital for NewSpace in Germany. It also shows that Berlins role in the space industry is already bigger than its public recognition and that Berlin may have a leading position in the near future by joining forces with our NewSpaceVision community and with the help of organizations such as Berlin Partner.
Our ten reasons
1. Berlin is the leading small satellite city in Germany
One of the biggest outcomes of the New Space age are small satellites. The Technical University of Berlin thanks to Professor Brieß enabled the leading small sat environment in Germany. There are a lot of spinoffs in Berlin such as German Orbital Systems, Magson and Berlin Space Technologies. Did you know that Astrofein and BST are the only German companies aside the primes (OHB and Airbus) who are able to build an entire satellite bus? And imagine Planet (labs) without the Rapideye satellites which were developed more than a decade ago in Berlin? However also for larger satellites you can find expertise with for example Sonaca space and Space Structures
2. Berlin has the only private Moon mission in Europe!
When Google started the LunarX prize in 2009 visionary engineers all over the globe started to work on a private moon mission. Maybe in Europe only people out of the city Berlin which is known for its craziness continue with such an ambitious vision. Today, the PTScientists from Berlin-Marzahn are the only private Moon mission in Europe which is alive. They are growing very fast in the past month and with strong partners such as AUDI, Vodafone and Red Bull they may also be the first private mission ever landed on the Moon.
3. Berlin has a matured ecosystem for Startups and is the leading VC city!
Berlin is for sure the leading Startup ecosystem in Germany and maybe of Europe. Counting the Startups per Capita Berlin is dominating the country. Startups in Berlin gain from a strong network, the highest density of accelerators and Startup Hubs and a lot of world leading conferences and events happening in Berlin. If you want to compete against the NewSpace companies from the valley in the US, Berlin has the advantage of far lower costs.
NewSpace is financially driven by venture capital. The US is far ahead in this domain and the biggest satellite constellation today is operated by Planet and not Rapideye maybe because of this reason. However, if you look at the regions in Germany most of VC money is invested in Berlin. This could lead to the pole position for the Berlin space industry in the coming decades.
4. No other city in Germany attracts international talents more than Berlin!
For big visionary missions you have a big advantage if you can gain from a global talent pool. In Berlin it is normal that a bar keeper only serves in English. The city is growing incredibly fast and people from all over the world move to Berlin. In 2017 more than 47 percent of employees in Berlin based Startups were not German, followed by Munich with 44 percent. For international talents Berlin is location number one and for space technology we need international expertise.
5. Berlin together with Brandenburg is a leading research environment for space hardware and applications
When it comes to Geo Science there is no other place to be. At the GFZ in Potsdam the development of cutting edge Hardware missions such as GRACE, CHAMP or GOCE happens together with ESA, DLR and NASA. Some of the most advanced scientific space instruments for geo research were developed and operated at the GFZ were more than 1200 people work. Climate change is the leading global challenge of humankind in the 21st century and GFZ helps us to conquer it.
6. Berlin brings space down to earth!
Berlin is the headquarter for leading EO and Navigation software companies and hence, the best environment for business applications in Earth Observation and Navigation. With headquarters of Here and TomTom leading navigation technology and applications come out of Berlin.
Airbus has a big SAR (Synthetic Aperature Radar) department in Potsdam and is developing applications for the cutting-edge satellite TerraSAR. And also „Europe´s Google“ the leading software company SAP has a dependency and a research hub (HPI) in the region of Berlin.
And with LiveEO Sven and I will build Europe´s leading satellite data analytics company in the coming years out of the heart of Berlin. It is a vision and an ambitious goal but no theoretical dream considering that we already have very big customers and are raising one of the biggest seed fundings of Germanys space industry right now to close it until the end 2018. Our strong personal connection to Europe´s leading data providers Planet and Airbus helps us to reach our ambitious goals and together with those companies we build cutting edge applications for infrastructure grids, the backbones of our modern society. From our LiveEO office we walk a few minutes to Planets headquarter of Europe. That’s a close connection to one of the hottest New Space companies.
7. Berlin is the city where creativity meets technology!
New ideas and visions also need an exchange with creative thinkers and artists if you want to build an entire new community out of it. In Berlin you can just ask your favorite musician who sold over a million of copies to say something nice for your conference and he is down with it. 🙂 Space is for everyone and with the help of artists you can have a big outreach to excite more people for space. Berlin = creativity!
8. Berlin is Planets headquarter of Europe!
Planet is operating the largest fleet of satellites with mission control next to the Berliner Ku’damm directly in the city. In the past years Planet had an aggressive Europe strategy and signed big contracts with ESA, Airbus and others. They act as a driver for the ecosystem and are accelerating Startups. Guess who was our first commercial sponsor beside the Master for Space Engineering Berlin? Exactly, it was Planet! We asked a lot of big institutions to sponsor NSV but Planet just did it because with their US culture they know how important a strong community is to build up a healthy ecosystem.
9. Customers for NewSpace companies are in Berlin!
A lot of big corporates have a headquarter or at least a big office in Berlin. The close connection to the Government and big trade fairs such as ILA happen in Berlin. Most of potential big customers build up innovation hubs in Berlin and they are plopping up everywhere. This is the chance for entrepreneurs to sell their products more easily in non-space industries. If you are a pure grantrepreneur maybe another city is better for you.
10. Berlin has started joining forces now!
Bavaria has the big advantage that the local space industry has a strong support by the Bavarian government. With the AZO they have a great organization which is connecting the industry. Bremen has the big advantage of hosting the unique German prime OHB which is connecting the industry. In Berlin every small company was operating kind of isolated. However, thanks to the initiative of Juliane Haupt from Berlin Partner companies of the region start to join forces now. She started with quarterly meetings of all stakeholders in the region of Berlin Brandenburg and now the connection to other clusters such as optics and IT will enable new innovations. With NewSpaceVision we have also built up a huge community and are Europe´s biggest NewSpace Meetup series with close to 1000 members (to date).
Download the overview of Berlins Space industry with this link: Berlin Partners Flyer for NewSpace Berlin
New NewSpaceVision Content and Meetups
In the coming weeks we will share new content and we will also record new podcasts at the IAC. We changed our Meetup format from monthly to quarterly but with more guests for one topic at an evening event. The next is planned after the IAC and will be announced soon.
This article represents my (Daniel Seidel) personal opinion.
Sven, Albrecht and I are happy to discuss the points at the IAC with everyone whos interested. If you work at an exciting company or if you have an exciting job within the space industry and want to discuss or present space topics in a podcast feel free to contact us via: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to know more about our exciting journey with LiveEO also feel free to contact us via email@example.com.
Daniel and the NSV team