On 24 November 2021 Luxembourg became the NewSpace capital of the world once again, welcoming industry-leading start-ups, space agencies, global investors, researchers and senior executives for a day of thought-provoking speeches, panel discussions, pitches and networking.
In its 4 th edition, the NewSpace conference aimed to connect entrepreneurs and investors in the new space age. Held in a hybrid format, the event welcomed participants at Maison des Arts et des Etudiants in Esch-sur-Alzette as well as online, drawing the interest of more than 500 people.
Luxembourg’s Economy Minister Franz Fayot opened the event by emphasising the country’s role in the space sector since the 1980s, further highlighting the potential of space technologies and their role in addressing urgent global challenges, including in the field of cooperation.
Minister Fayot also announced the official launch of the first call for applications for the Start-Up Support Programme (SSP) of the European Space Resources Innovation Centre (ESRIC), which marks the world’s first incubation programme entirely dedicated to space resources.
Space impact and legacy
In his keynote speech, SES CEO Steve Collar talked about the growing demand for connectivity, especially post-Covid, with space being an integral part of broader cloud systems. He also drew attention to the role played by the satellite industry in taking climate action and emphasised the need for the space sector to reflect on the impact that it aims to make and the legacy to be created.
Josef Aschbacher, General Director of the European Space Agency (ESA), also delivered a keynote speech in which it presented the organisation’s key actions to boost and support the space industry on the continent.
Representing 22 member states, ESA runs a budget of €6.49 billion this year- the equivalent of €12 euros per European. By implementing 3 accelerators, ESA seeks to focus on responding to urgent societal needs, upscaling space investment, strengthening European leadership and STEM, as well as accelerating decarbonisation.
“The cost of doing nothing is much higher,” Aschbacher said, citing billion-dollar natural disasters, as well as increasing cybercrime.
Space data and talent
At a panel on the economics of space for Earth, experts discussed about the increasing role of space in all business areas and recognised a greater awareness on the availability of space data.
“Space was used to detect climate change, illegal deforestation, without space we wouldn’t know about this,” said Thomas Grübler, CEO and cofounder of NewSpace start-up OroraTech.
Nonetheless, along with the numerous benefits of investing in the NewSpace sector, the industry also faces a number of constraints.
“We have to find talent to support the booming industry of space,” argued Peter Round, President of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
At another panel on the business of space and the climate for investment, Director of the Satellite Finance Network Mark Garnier reminded participants that the space industry is “very capital intensive”.
The 2021 conference ended with a pitch competition where 6 start-ups competed for a chance to meet a space investor.