Italian Trade Agency and Italian Space Agency partner with Space Foundation to Launch All-Italian Aerospace Acceleration Program
Houston, TX – Sept 11, 2023 – The Italian Trade Agency (ITA, the Italian governmental agency for the promotion of Italian business abroad) of Houston and the Italian Space Agency (ASI), in partnership with the Space Foundation and its Space Commerce Institute, announce the launch of “Space it Up”, the pioneering all-Italian Aerospace Acceleration Program.
Space it Up hosts six of Italy’s most promising aerospace companies in Houston, Texas, marking a significant milestone in international collaboration and innovation within the aerospace sector. The initiative leverages the strengths of both Italy and the United States in space exploration, research, and development. Through this strategic partnership, the program aims to create a synergistic environment that fosters innovation, knowledge exchange, and growth, elevating the capabilities of the participating Italian companies and further solidifying the bonds between the two nations.
“With a turnover in 2022 of 13 billion euros and an export of 6.5 billion, growing by 17.7% compared to 2021, the Italian aerospace sector represents today a rapidly growing industry, the pride of Made in Italy and is increasingly involved in the execution of international missions. The new space economy is a strategic growth driver for the country with five main regional production hubs throughout the production chain: from the construction and operation of launch vehicles to the construction of satellites, acquisition of data from space, and the management of images and big data. Not to mention the ability to develop the cross-sectoral know-how of our companies, which potentially allows them to effectively meet all the needs of the aerospace sector” – said the President of ITA Agency, Matteo Zoppas.
“Companies in the sector are paying increasing attention, in the process of internationalizing their activities, both towards large foreign clients and towards system and subsystem producers,” stated the CEO and Managing Director of ITA Agency, Lorenzo Galanti. “They participate in major exhibitions and air shows with the support of ITA, where they have the opportunity to engage in meetings for productive collaborations. Our effort is to bring the national production districts to the global market and at the same time to invite foreign buyers to Italy, in order to promote the increasing inclusion of the Italian aerospace system in the technological development processes of the sector at an international level.”
The acceleration program will span six weeks, with an initial remote week to facilitate essential groundwork, followed by five intensive in-person weeks at The Ion Houston, the center of the Innovation Corridor. During this time, participants will engage in mentorship sessions, workshops, and collaborative projects tailored to accelerate their growth trajectory and connect with the Houston aerospace ecosystem.
At the heart of this groundbreaking endeavor lies a strong collaboration with the Italian Space Agency, a testament to the program’s significance and potential impact. By joining forces with the ASI the acceleration program gains access to a wealth of space-related knowledge, expertise, and resources that will enhance the capabilities of the participating companies.
Teodoro Valente, president of ASI underlines: “The US market represents a strategic target for the Italian space industry, with Houston being one of the epicenters. In this context, the most advanced innovative global space trends are emerging. It is also thanks to the partnership with the US that, in the past, our industry has had the opportunity to build the solid expertise we have today. This is why, within our initiatives for industrial internationalization, we support the collaboration with the Italian Trade Agency and have proposed the launch of a vertical acceleration program for the Space sector that benefits young Italian companies with excellent prospects for innovation and growth.”
The partnership with Space Foundation further reinforces the commitment of both nations to advancing aerospace exploration and research. Space Foundation’s extensive experience in promoting space awareness, education, and collaboration will undoubtedly enhance the impact and reach of Space it Up.
Kelli Kedis Ogborn, Space Foundation vice president of space commerce and entrepreneurship remarked: “From the cradle of Renaissance to the frontiers of the cosmos, Italy’s heritage of space innovations knows no bounds. With a legacy of scientific advancements, Italy continues to script a new chapter in history, this time with a broader focus on international collaboration and impactful growth to the evolving global space ecosystem.”
The selected Italian companies represent a spectrum of cutting-edge aerospace technologies, each contributing a unique dimension to the collective efforts of Space it Up: Arca Dynamics, Delta Space Leonis, Involve Space, Nabu, Novac, T4i. This diverse cohort will have the opportunity to collaborate with some of the brightest minds in the Houston space community, gaining access to state-of-the-art facilities, resources, and expertise that have historically driven breakthroughs in the aerospace field.
The journey of Space it Up began with a kick-off event on September 1 at The Ion Houston, where the cohort has been officially introduced to the Houston ecosystem. There has been brief welcoming remarks from the local Italian Institutions, presentations by each of the startups followed by a networking stand-up reception.
The program will culminate in a Demo Day on September 27 (location TBD). This event will showcase the innovative outcomes and solutions that have emerged from the collaborative efforts of the six companies. Investors, industry leaders, and technology enthusiasts will have the unique opportunity to witness firsthand the progress achieved during the acceleration program. Each of the companies will present their cutting-edge projects, highlighting their transformative impact on the aerospace landscape.
Space it Up will also mark the beginning of a dedicated “phygital” space for the “made in Italy” aerospace ingenuity in Houston. In line with Italy’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of innovation, the ITA Houston has joined forces with Village Insights, a Houston-based recognized leader in digital platforms for industry communities, to create an online hub that will serve as a dynamic catalyst for growth and collaboration. Starting in September 2023, this digital platform will serve as the epicenter of Italy’s aerospace community, providing a virtual space for companies, experts, researchers, and enthusiasts to connect, exchange ideas, and collaborate on projects that will drive the industry forward.
For more information about the Italian Aerospace Acceleration Program in Houston or the Italian companies, visit itahouston.com/spaceitup23.
Arca Dynamics | www.arcadynamics.space
Arca Dynamics offers aerospace traffic monitoring and Earth observation services using proprietary nanosatellites. It has patented an in-orbit monitoring system for space debris that provides information on the presence of objects on a collision course in near-real time, in the presence (with a smart camera) or absence (with a radio wave receiver) of light. In 2022, the company entered the Takeoff accelerator program. The goal for 2024 is to have an operational constellation of 4 satellites.
Delta Space Leonis | www.deltaspaceleonis.com
Delta Space Leonis provides low-cost space services using picosatellites (<1kg). The company is designing its own constellation that will offer monitoring services in fields such as agriculture, energy production, transportation, and environmental protection. The company aims at containing costs by developing a proprietary deployer. It will also develop miniaturized ground stations to communicate with satellites, and a transmission module to make the constellation compatible with existing equipment. The company is currently seeking investment to launch into orbit within a year. A first test in the stratosphere has been conducted in 2022, validating predictions on data collection and transmission to the ground.
Involve Space | www.involvespace.it
Involve Space is developing Stratostats, a pseudo-satellite platform consisting of a probe elevated by a helium-fueled (zero-emission) stratospheric balloon capable of reaching and maintaining 30-40 km altitude. The probe – which is recovered upon return to the ground – can carry materials or be used for Earth-monitoring activites. The company has also developed an AI software, Neurostar, which can autonomously coordinate the trajectories of one or more probes (but also drones and satellites) based on wind currents. The company is currently working to raise 300,000 euros. A first constellation of probes will be operational from the end of 2023, while from the beginning of 2024 the Neurostar system will be used to coordinate multiple probes.
Nabu | www.nabu.ag
Nabu integrates within a single platform data and information that optimizes irrigation processes in agriculture. The system brings together satellite imagery and detections from sensors, efficiently managing water and energy resources. The same platform enables remote management of irrigation systems, creating predictive patterns for maintenance activities. The company entered the ESA-BIC (European Space Agency) incubation program in January 2023, supported by ASI.
Novac | www.novacsupercap.com
Novac develops moldable solid supercapacitors for high performance. Supercaps can complement batteries in electric vehicles to enable immediate energy releases. Novac’s solution is moldable and adaptable to vehicle shapes and can be used even in extreme environmental conditions – such as outer space. The solid state also ensures higher safety standards. The startup raised investment of 400,000 euros in 2022. In 2023 it entered the ESA-BIC/ASI incubation program. A new investment round of 4 million is planned for 2024, with industrial production set to begin by the end of the year.
T4I | www.t4innovation.com
T4I provides electric propulsion systems, cold gas systems and chemical propulsion systems for microsatellites and hybrid rockets for microlaunchers, small upper stages, and sounding rockets. Its proprietary technology enables the development of simple, versatile, customizable, and cost-effective solutions. The company aims to establish partnerships in the US in 2024, and to open an overseas branch in 2025.