At a Glance
- Since 2014, the ISS National Laboratory has partnered with Boeing to award grants through an annual MassChallenge “Technology in Space Prize,” which supports startups with ideas for innovative research and development onboard the ISS National Laboratory.
- MassChallenge is the largest startup accelerator and is the first to support high-impact, early-stage entrepreneurs, providing access to world-class mentorship, in-kind support, and other benefits to help startups succeed.
- A panel on “Accelerating Startups in Space” at the 2019 ISS Research and Development Conference brought together representatives from Boeing, MassChallenge, and several startups that have been awarded the Technology in Space Prize to discuss how the ISS National Laboratory is serving as a business accelerator in space.
- This week, each of the three startups on the panel—Angiex, LambdaVision, and LaunchPad Medical—will be featured in a guest blog discussing how their ISS National Laboratory experience helped advance their company and providing advice for other startups considering spaceflight R&D.
Since 2014, the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory has partnered with The Boeing Company to sponsor the MassChallenge “Technology in Space Prize,” a yearly competition to support entrepreneurial use of the space station for innovative research and development (R&D). The prize awards grants to startups through the MassChallenge program, a startup accelerator that began in Boston and has since expanded internationally. In total, we have collaboratively allocated more than $4 million in funding toward space-based projects through this prize. The Technology in Space Prize is a powerful example of how partnerships can bring together new ideas to leverage low Earth orbit in ways not previously imagined.
At the 2019 ISS Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) in Atlanta, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel on “Accelerating Startups in Space.” Panelists included Kevin Foley, Director of Global Sales and Marketing in Boeing’s Space and Launch Division; Cait Brumme, MassChallenge Managing Director; and representatives from three of the many startups to be awarded a Technology in Space Prize—Paul Jaminet of Angiex, Nicole Wagner of LambdaVision, and Brian Hess of LaunchPad Medical.
During the panel session, Foley discussed how the Technology in Space Prize allows the ISS to serve as a business incubator, providing a path for entrepreneurs to participate in space-based R&D that can improve their products and shorten time to market—which could lead to competitive advantages in the marketplace. Brumme spoke about how MassChallenge helps to accelerate the highest-impact and highest-potential startups through selective programs that connect entrepreneurs to the critical expertise and resources they need to succeed. The program’s mission, she said, is to make it as easy as possible for startups to launch and grow their ventures to help solve some of the world’s most “massive” challenges—which is where “MassChallenge” gets its name.
Each of the startup panelists shared insights on the value of doing R&D in low Earth orbit and the impact that spaceflight research had on their business models. Angiex conducted research to help test the effects of their novel vascular-targeted cancer drug on normal blood vessels, LambdaVision sought to improve the manufacturing process of their retinal implant (designed to restore vision to those blinded by retinal degenerative diseases), and LaunchPad Medical explored the ability of their injectable bone adhesive to accelerate bone repair—all three via projects on the ISS National Lab.
To hear more from these innovative startups, check out our series of guest blogs this week on ISS360. Each startup will discuss how their ISS experience helped advance their company—and each will provide advice for other startups considering spaceflight R&D.
From startups, Fortune 500 companies, academia, and government, bold minds are advancing innovative ideas that cannot be done on the ground and that provide valuable benefits to life on Earth—and the era of spaceflight R&D is yet in its infancy. The more I learn about the ways that the ISS National Lab is enabling researchers from a broad spectrum of disciplines and organizations to succeed, the more excited I am to see where the future of space-based R&D takes us.
The recipients of the 2019 MassChallenge Technology in Space Prize will be announced later this week. Learn more about the prize and some of the past recipients in the Upward feature "Attracting Entrepreneurs to Space: MassChallenge Grantees Move Early-Stage Innovations Forward."