Editor’s note: Throughout 2022, New Mexico Angels members, investors and startup owners will be writing columns about economic development and innovation opportunities in the state. The angels bring together individual investors to pool their resources, providing seed and seed capital to startups.
The space race is on again.
Overcoming it will require tackling the hurdles companies face in getting their new products into space.
I created NewSpace New Mexico for this purpose. As a former leader of the Air Force Base’s Technology Organization Lab, I witnessed firsthand how challenging it can be for businesses to understand and seek out the resources that can help them grow and succeed.
Through our collaboration with the aerospace companies, convening industry forums and innovation with hundreds of space leaders across the country, we try to get to the root causes that lead too many companies to get stuck in the recognized “valley of death”. ” It has come back loud and clear that the biggest challenge preventing more companies from succeeding is having a support system that extends beyond the R&D stage.
We recently launched NewSpace Ignitor, funded in partnership with AFRL, to address these concerns by providing a complete support system for companies as they move from idea to product to sale. The incubator-like program will provide an unprecedented level of post-R&D support to early-stage, small and medium-sized companies. This support will give companies what they need to turn their innovations into revenue-generating products.
Supporting businesses throughout the innovation lifecycle is incredibly complex and will require us all to work together to leverage the vast resources already thriving in our state. Our rich space ecosystem in New Mexico includes a purpose-built spaceport, two leading national laboratories, a university, and three Space Force agencies operating in the state – the Space Rapid Capabilities Office, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the Space Systems Command. It also includes a growing ecosystem of space enablers, such as Q Station and the Hyperspace Challenge, as well as investment funds such as our partner New Mexico Angels.
NewSpace New Mexico works with all of these organizations along with our extensive network of partners as space companies move beyond the start-up stage. We will provide companies with customized guidance with well-defined concepts to increase their readiness level, accelerate product development and accelerate sales. Giving businesses greater access to specialized equipment and investment capital will be an important service offered in this process. Given that prototyping and aerospace manufacturing typically cost millions of dollars, this is important to help companies connect to these resources. Participating companies will also have the opportunity to present their innovations to investors and buyers.
Right-sizing investment is the last critical piece to enabling more technology solutions to get into space. While investment in the space sector reached $17.1 billion last year, it is broken down into several large late-stage rounds with a total of 328 companies funded. The total number of companies receiving funding must multiply for the United States to win the space race.
Through organizations like the New Mexico Angels, private investors become an important part of the solution by supporting programs like NewSpace Ignitor with funding, mentoring and knowledge sharing. Instead, investors can be more confident that the companies they invest in are more likely to succeed with New Mexico’s space ecosystem behind them, providing the full support needed.
There has never been a more exciting time to be in space. By uniting and igniting industry and supporting startups beyond R&D, New Mexico holds the key to winning the space race and capitalizing on the multi-trillion dollar new space opportunity.
NewSpace New Mexico is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created to bring together space stakeholders, promote a universal voice for space leadership, and advance the commercial space innovation base for the benefit of the nation.