Five companies graduated from the state’s first space incubator program, (Venture Catalyst Space) at the 7th South Australia Space Forum, well on their way to establishing their space ventures in South Australia.

Delivered by the University of South Australia’s Innovation & Collaboration Centre (ICC) and part of the State Government’s $4m Space Innovation Fund, the program was launched in September 2017 with global partners the South Australia Space Industry Centre and the International Space University.

The companies: Ping Services (SA), ResearchSat (SA), Wright Technologies (SA), Safety from Space (SA) and Tekuma (NSW) received a series of capability workshops, one-on-one mentoring, workspace and a stipend of $6,000 per company as well as the opportunity to pitch for a fully-funded overseas tour to network with relevant space industry primes, investors and other startups.

ICC Director Jasmine Vreugdenburg says the team have seen significant growth in all participating companies, leading to some big wins during the program.

“Over the past six months, some of the companies have changed their product offering, secured customers and grown their teams, while others have secured licencing deals and had some big wins in competitions and grant applications,” she says.

“We are extremely proud of the first five companies to go through this program and look forward to seeing them execute the next steps of their business plans.”

During the program Wright Technologies won South Australia’s Blockchain Innovation Challenge in March, winning $50,000 and Ping Services secured a $170,000 grant from the Entrepreneur’s Program.

Ping’s CEO Matthew Stead had measured expectations for the program but graduates extremely grateful they took part.

“As the founder and owner of an established business, I had optimistic but measured expectations for the value I’d glean form a startup program,” he says.

I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at the quality and breadth of support which has really helped us apply our resources more productively and I believe boosted our chances of startup success.

“The program identifies a number of process and models for logically approaching our startup rather than leaving it to chance.”

All companies will continue to utilise the ICC workspace and support for the next six months. Applications for the next program have closed and will start in June.

The program is delivered with ICC’s Entrepreneur in Residence (former Microsoft executive) Kirk Drage and his company LeapSheep.

Applications for the 2019 program have recently closed with companies to be announced soon.