The Disrupt Space summit officially announces its challenges, speakers, attending startups and detailed programming

21st March 2016


Monday 21st March, 2016.

The Disrupt Space summit taking place at the GOP Varieté-Theater in Bremen on April 7-8th has officially announced its challenges, speakers, attending startups and detailed programming. The event, organized through a grassroots initiative will combine an innovative action-driven hackathon with high-level workshops and panel discussions. International and interdisciplinary, the event will connect a next generation of space entrepreneurs with decision makers to collaboratively solve today’s global challenges using space.

The summit will include three tracks: aspiring entrepreneurs, startups and decision makers.

Aspiring entrepreneurs will select a sustainability or industry challenge defined by Disrupt Space and their partner organizations. Up to three teams of three to five participants will compete over the course of two days with structured mentor support to develop a business case towards solving one of the following challenges:

  • Made in Space, a Silicon Valley startup who has launched the first commercial 3D printer to the International Space Station (ISS) submitted a challenge asking aspiring entrepreneurs to establish an innovative business model that will utilize 3D printing on the ISS.
  • United Nations World Food Programme (UN WFP) submitted a challenge on using space to provide farmers in remote locations with location-specific information, including weather alerts, agricultural advice, crops status and nutrition tips. Urthecast, a Canadian based space startup will support this challenge by providing earth observation data to the participants.
  • The European Space Agency’s challenge asks the attending entrepreneurs to provide an innovative, upstream space business model that disrupts the old processes of value chains.
  • Local Motors, a company and community founded in 2007 that produces open-source motor vehicles will provide a challenge to apply co-creation principles to find an innovative business case that provides global internet connectivity using space.
  • Airbus Defence and Space who is based locally in Bremen are asking entrepreneurs to develop a service and a business case that would build a global collaborative community using existing infrastructure in orbit, whether the ISS or orbiting satellites.

Each team will pitch their business concepts on Friday afternoon. The winning teams of each challenge will potentially receive prizes to help them continue developing their concepts after the summit. These prizes and additional challenges will be announced shortly on:

Frank Salzgeber, Head of Technology Transfer Programme at the European Space Agency and provider of one of the challenges says:

Startup companies have always driven innovation and changed the way industries work. The European Space Agency is therefore happy to provide a challenge for entrepreneurs to not only find innovative technical solutions but also new business models that can disrupt the old processes and value chains in the traditional space sector.

The second track will see up to 20 space startups from Europe, the US and Australia attend. Attending startup founders will compete against each other for an opportunity to pitch in front of the summit and to participate in a prototyping session that will translate their business problems into practical solutions.

Confirmed startups includes Hypercubes, a Silicon Valley based company that aims to monitor Earth’s health through a network of hyperspectral imaging satellites. Others includes the Polish startup Blue Dot Solutions which aims to create innovative downstream applications using space data.

Additional startups attending are: Crowd 2 Space International, Viridian Raven, SpaceView, Endurosat, Radiobro, Neumann Space, Spaceboard, PLD Space and three startups recently formed in Bremen: Vali, Satsearch and Space Products and Innovation.

Candace Johnson, co-founder of SES, president of the European Business Angels Network and moderator of the Next Generation Space Entrepreneur Panel at the Disrupt Space summit says:

Disrupt Space is the global destination point for all young and old entrepreneurs dedicated to realizing the potential of space for humanity. I am looking forward to two great days of blue-sky thinking combined with real projects to usher in a new Golden Age for Space.

The third track will cater to decision makers consisting of space and non-space business developers, executives and investors. They will be able to interact directly with startup founders by voting on their favourites, participate in a prototyping session and display their organizations through an innovative poster session. The summit will see three panels treating the topic of entrepreneurship and space through different lenses.

The first panel will treat on a high level the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in driving innovation. Panelists include Sarah Cruddas, journalist and science broadcaster acting as moderator, Frank Salzgeber, Head of Technology Transfer Programme Office at the European Space Agency and Brian Lim, five time serial space entrepreneur and co-founder and CEO of Hypercubes.

The second panel will bring founders from five space startups attending the summit together to conduct a deep dive into their journeys on founding their companies. The panel is moderated by Candace Johnson, co-founder of SES and President of the European Business Angels Network. The startup panelists will be announced shortly before the summit.

The last panel will discuss the opportunities in the commercial space sector from the perspective of space and non-space corporates and investors. Panelists include Bülent Altan, former Vice President of Avionics at SpaceX, Gunnar Graef, Managing Director of Deutsche Ventures, Nicolas Peter, Policy Officer at the European Commission, Michael Bültmann, Managing Director of HERE Deutschland and Robbert Mica, Entrepreneur in Residence at ATG-Europe.

Philippe Cyr, Co-founder of Disrupt Space says:

Between 50 to 100 ‘decision makers’ – people with different areas of expertise, a passion for advancing innovation and the authority to take action will participate at the summit. We are expecting a situation where current and next generation entrepreneurs will learn a lot from decision makers, and decision makers from the entrepreneurs.

Disrupt Space is supported by the City of Bremen, the European Regional Development Fund, the European Space Agency, Airbus Defence and Space, OHB SE, Partake, Design & Data, istream, The Science and Technology Facilities Council and HE-Space.

Registration for the summit is still open for aspiring entrepreneurs, startups and decision makers through Follow Disrupt Space on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn together with hashtag #DisruptSpace.


Magni Johannsson
Co-founder, Disrupt Space
Tel:  +49 176 81 589 303 

Hans-Georg Tschupke
WFB Wirtschaftsförderung (Bremen Invest)
Tel: +49 421 96 00 10

The Disrupt Space summit is a unique event designed to connect aspiring entrepreneurs and startups with decision makers to collaboratively solve today's industry and sustainability problems using space. The event begins on Thursday morning with highlight panels and speeches. In the afternoon the work starts: aspiring entrepreneurs break off to work on industry and sustainability challenges submitted by select organizations and startups mingle with decision makers to show off their products or services. Workshops designed for non-space decision makers will be held to provide an overview of current opportunities and challenges in the commercial space sector. On Friday startups will pitch to decision makers followed by final presentations by aspiring entrepreneurs to the full audience. The summit is centered on action, innovation, and education. Whether you are already working in the commercial space sector or have never heard of it, the Disrupt Space summit is the perfect environment for you to get a more thorough understanding of the potential of commercial space.