LAUNCHPAD: The World's First Pre-Incubation Accelerator Program for Space Technology Venture Creation

Edvard Foss*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


The NewSpace era is opening for new potential businesses opportunities, and there is growing interest in working with space entrepreneurship among students. However, a solution is needed that can accelerate the development of the best space-tech ideas and teams at the universities, to a stage where they are mature enough to be part of the European Space Agency’s Business Incubation Centre’s incubation programs. This paper discusses the conceptualization, development, and results of the pre-incubation accelerator program for space technology venture creation, LAUNCHPAD. In collaboration with the Danish Ministry of Education and Research and the European Space Agency (ESA), the Danish Technical University (DTU) is responsible for the newly started European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre Denmark (ESA BIC DK). ESA BIC DK is a part of the greater ESA BIC network overseen by ESA Space Solutions. The center is a national space technology incubation center, which through a 2-year incubation program will provide support for new Danish startups that utilize space technology or satellites in a variety of sectors. Through this initiative, ESA BIC DK aims to promote entrepreneurship among students at Danish universities and facilitate the creation of new ventures, which in turn will become part of the ESA BIC DK Incubation program. To facilitate this development, we conceptualized and developed a 12-day accelerated pre-incubation program, named LAUNCHPAD. LAUNCHPAD is inspired by a variety of entrepreneurial programs run at MIT, UC Berkeley, Antler, and REBBELS. The program is staged as an accelerator, with some adopted elements from venture builders. The focus is put on discipline, hard work, fast-pace, and customer validation, through independent group work. The program has been run two times, gathering a total of 60 participants, assembling into 18 startups. LAUNCHPAD has resulted in 13 startups pitching in front of a jury of venture capitalists and investors, of which 8 were evaluated to be at an investor-ready level within 6 months. The high potential startups have continued to get business development support and help with their ESA BIC DK Incubation program application. 2 startups have applied for the incubation program, and 4 more a preparing their applications for the next application round. In conclusion, the LAUNCHPAD program is a success. The program facilitates the creation of new high-quality ventures. A Nordic version will be organized in 2022, and LAUNCHPAD will enter the ESA BIC DK portfolio of resources offered by the incubator to the Danish innovation ecosystem.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
PublisherInternational Astronautical Federation
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)978-171384317-7
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventIAF Space Education and Outreach Symposium 2021 - Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Duration: 25 Oct 202129 Oct 2021


ConferenceIAF Space Education and Outreach Symposium 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited Arab Emirates
SeriesProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC


Dive into the research topics of 'LAUNCHPAD: The World's First Pre-Incubation Accelerator Program for Space Technology Venture Creation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this