Held annually on the territory of Skolkovo Innovation Center near Moscow, the third Startup Village forum has attracted more than 12,000 participants, proving its status of Russia and Eastern Europe’s biggest startup event.
Startup Village is a key initiative of Skolkovo Foundation – a non-profit organization that creates an ecosystem of innovation in Russia and integrates it into global community. The forum brings together startups, investors, advisors and other stakeholders from across Russia and neighboring countries.
In our previous article we wrote about the first day of Startup Village and all what we learned about Russia's space industry at the forum. Below we will focus on space-related events happened on the second, and last, day of Startup Village 2015.
Two major happenings around Skolkovo space cluster were scheduled for June 3, second day of Startup Village. The first one, round table “Miniaturized satellite platforms – opportunities for science and business”, gathered representatives of government and industry, startups, non-profit organizations and commercial companies.
Dmitry Payson, Director of Research and Analysis Center at United Rocket and Space Corporation, who also served as Skolkovo Foundation's space cluster Science director, told about the importance of flexibility of public-private partnerships, legislation, licensing procedures, etc. in order to correspond NewSpace challenges.Launch Program Manager at Glavkosmos, Roscosmos arm that is responsible for international cooperation and supporting research & development works, Vsevolod Kryukovsky briefly described early steps to adopt Russian launchers for deployment of SmallSats as secondary payload. According to him, thorough work and joint efforts with NPO Lavochkin have resulted in technical ability of Soyuz rockets and Fregat upper stages to deploy various payloads into different orbits with different inclination, thus making such deploying SmallSats “not so secondary”.
As an example, he mentioned Meteor-M No.2-1 mission, scheduled for early 2016, that foresees deployment of main spacecraft, 4 microsatellites and up to 40 CubeSats into a different positions in low Earth and sun-synchronous orbits (on the photo above).
Talking about CubeSats deployment capabilities, participants noted modernization of Progress-M cargo spaceship into Progress-MS, which will have external space for 4 containers able to deploy up to 24 CubeSats of 1U size during spaceship's way to the International Space Station. Maiden flight of Progress-MS was expected for late 2015, however, due to the recent Progress M-27M mission failure, that launch may be delayed.Later, answering about ridesharing possibilities within deep space missions, Vsevolod Kryukovsky told that Glavkosmos and Planet Labs are currently in early discussions to launch eight 3U CubeSats in lunar fly-by mission in order to map the Moon.
Deployment of two Planet Labs' Flock 1b Doves from Kibo Experimental Module of the ISS.
At the end of the round table, Alexey Belyakov, Director of Space and Telecommunications Technologies Cluster at Skolkovo Foundation, asked Jeff Manber, Managing Director of NanoRacks (who also took part in discussions and made interesting and inspirational speech on the previous day), about his vision of stability, profitability and sustainability of emerging NewSpace companies.Jeff Manber answered: “In real marketplace nothing is stable. It will not be stable because we have [in space industry] technologies of disruption. Investors are clever people, they wouldn't have invested in such companies like Planet Labs, Skybox Imaging, Spire, if they had not believed in them. I think, we will see their profitability in coming years.”
“In real marketplace nothing is stable.” Jeff Manber, Managing Director of NanoRacks
The second space-related round table within Startup Village was dedicated to “Satellite navigation trends and Glonass commercialization". In few words, we'll focus on a speech of Nikolay Mikhaylov, Skolkovo space cluster Science director. He questioned feasibility of Glonass (Russia), Galileo (Europe), BeiDou (China) global satellite navigation systems (GNSS) on mass-market, since GPS has already had presence there for years and public 'just got used to it'.
However, Glonass, Galileo and BeiDou systems, combining their advantages with GPS system, will be viable on B2B markets like automotive, aviation, agriculture, geodesy, etc. Moreover, maximum effect and usefulness in both mass and B2B market will be achieved in combining GNSS with other positioning and navigation means, such as Wi-Fi positioning, applicable for high-density, populous urban areas.
Interesting to note, Nikolay Mikhaylov also made a speech on the first day of Startup Village, where he focused not only on topical and widely discussed NewSpace, or Space 2.0, but also on Asian Space Race as one of the world's space industry drivers.
He characterized space industry by three facts: innovations are slower than in other sectors (what has changed in space industry since 1960-80s, comparing to computers, healthcare, energy…?), governments play leading roles, gradual (slow) decrease in prices.
Nikolay Mikhaylov divided space-related technologies into 'disruptive' and 'new-level' ones. Disruptive technologies, according to him, are satellite communications, navigation, Earth remote sensing, SmallSats and their constellations – all of them are viable and profitable. New-level technologies (reusable launch services, additive manufacturing, in-orbit services, asteroid mining) raise serious questions with regards to their feasibility, demand, and future in general. Only additive manufacturing (3D-printing) technology looks like a promising and sustainable one.
Other news about Russia's space industry, Skolkovo Foundation and Startup Village that we found out during the forum:
- Russian Venture Company (RVC), Finematika GC and a group of private investors created an aerospace cluster venture capital fund – Finematika. Target size of the fund will be 3 billion rubles ($56,2 million) with possibility of its further increasing at the investors' discretion. Operating period of the fund will be 10 years, and investment period is five years.
- According to Taisiya Yarmak, Head of International PR at Skolkovo Foundation, amount of agreements signed during the first day of Startup Village 2015 reached $272 million.
- Russian businessman and politician Sergey Nedoroslev and a group of investors purchased a majority stake in Kosmotras, operator of Dnepr rocket commercial launches. Before that, Ukraine-based Khartron PJSC and Russian legal and physical bodies, united under Ascond company, owned 45% Kosmotras share each. Remaining 10% was in possession of Kazakhstan Gharysh Sapary. Izvestia reports that Sergey Nedoroslev has already owned 15% stake in RSC Energia in 1990s-2007, and 20% stake in NPO Energomash in 2005-2012.