UniSA’s new scaleup pathway for space startups


The University of South Australia’s Innovation & Collaboration Centre (ICC) and Australian Centre for Business Growth (AuCBG) have joined forces to offer space startups a fully funded scaleup pathway on top of a $10,000 equity-free acceleration stipend.

Supported through South Australian Government funding, companies that graduate from the ICC’s six-month Venture Catalyst Space accelerator program and other space companies ready to scale, are now eligible to apply for the AuCBG’s six-month Growth Ramp scaleup program to take their business to the next level.

South Australian Deputy Premier and Minister for Defence and Space Industries Susan Close says the new space scaleup offering amplifies commercial viability for companies and their technology once exiting the Venture Catalyst Space accelerator program.

“Space startups are shaping the future space economy and bringing incredible new technologies to life,” says Close.

“Through the Venture Catalyst Space program, South Australia is ensuring that we have a mechanism to harness emerging talent with these innovative companies revolutionising the way we use space, while fostering a culture of collaboration across the space ecosystem.

“Now with the addition of access to UniSA’s Growth Ramp program, we will be able to support businesses to scale up their operations; a key activity as our space ecosystem matures.”

Since 2018, Venture Catalyst Space has supported 36 space startups. Program alumni have collectively raised more than $31 million in declared additional investment and gone on to create more than 220 new space jobs.

The tailored program is one of a handful worldwide that specialises in developing commercial space ventures, supporting participants via equity-free funding, industry mentorship, business development support, access to university resources and a bustling startup community.

The new space scaleup pathway is a game changer, explains ICC Deputy Director Craig Jones, creating even greater scope for space companies to achieve sustainable, long-term success.

“As Australia’s space industry continues its upward trajectory, the demand for timely and tailored support for emerging businesses becomes increasingly crucial,” says Jones.

“The Venture Catalyst Space program has played a pivotal role in nurturing space innovators, providing them with invaluable opportunities to test their products, refine business models, and secure their first customers.

“The addition of the Growth Ramp program provides a truly unique offering, charting a clear pathway for these ventures to transform into scalable and thriving businesses.”

The pathway from Venture Catalyst Space to Growth Ramp is driven by strong appetite for space companies to expand and entice investment in the state’s growing space ecosystem.

Growth Ramp is aimed at companies with between five to 11 employees who want to scale, supporting them to refine product/market fit, determine an optimal customer base, identify best strategies and tactics for growth and hire executive teams.

AuCBG Director Ryan Williams is no stranger to business ventures on an international scale and says Adelaide is primed for success.

“The journey of entrepreneurship is an incredible experience, and one that truly requires an ‘always on’ approach to learning,” Williams says.

“At the very beginning, a founder’s focus is rightfully on product, viability, finding customers and getting the show on the road. When you enter the scaleup phase, the skills related to planning, organisational design, financing growth, managing people, sales and marketing, and developing processes and systems to support growth kick up several gears.

“We’re very excited to be able to work with CEOs through Growth Ramp, helping them scale great space companies and build South Australia.”

Current Venture Catalyst Space participant AICRAFT last week signed a Memorandum of Understanding with program alumni ResearchSat to use their edge computing technology—enabling data processing at greater speeds and volumes—to assist with biological and scientific experiments in orbit.

For space tech startups like AICRAFT, CEO Tony Scoleri says the option of a scaleup program could propel investment potential.

“Building a company is a journey and having a program that helps CEOs consolidate and discover how to best scale up their operations is a significant piece in that journey,” says Scoleri.

“Some investors only consider companies that are ready for scaling up and can prove their growth path. Having the mentorship of experts will provide the guidance to build awareness, avoid pitfalls and focus on strategic elements for growth to the next level.”

Applications for the 2024 Venture Catalyst Space program open today, Monday 29 January, and close at 11.59pm ACDT Sunday 17 March. Startups can apply via the ICC website.

For more information about the Growth Ramp space pathway, visit the AuCBG website.


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