Kris Kimel

“Houston, we have a competitor.”

We have to say we didn’t see this potential game-changer coming.

IL just got a news release announcing Kentucky Space LLC is creating Space Tango, one of the nation’s first business accelerators specifically for space enterprises and entrepreneurs.

Kentucky Space is an ambitious enterprise focused on R&D, talent development, commercial and entrepreneurial space solutions, according to a news release.

Space Tango, according to the release, is an early-stage venture fund, business accelerator and community of entrepreneurs for space-driven startups, with the goal of assisting businesses in developing innovations, novel applications and diverse markets.

This is a Kris Kimel innovation, according to the release, from the creator of IdeaFestival. During the last few years, IdeaFestival has grown from a small meeting of the minds to an event so large and innovative Fischer Administration econ-dev Czar Ted Smith has embraced IdeaFestival as the calendar bookend for the Kentucky Derby.

Kimel also is president of the Kentucky Science & Technology Corp., one of the most innovative parts of state government.

So, for us, Kimel’s involvement makes it real for us ….

Since we’re neither aerospace engineers nor astronauts, we’ll give you the crux of the release unabridged:

The global space marketplace is now poised for significant growth and opportunity. Unprecedented access to space coupled with the rapid advancement of micro technologies and other innovations are combining to create a dynamic space industry. The 2013 report from the Space Foundation noted that “The global space economy grew by nearly 7% in 2012 reaching a new record of $304.31 billion. As in previous years, the vast majority of this growth was in the commercial sector, which now constitutes nearly three-quarters of the space economy, with government making up the rest”.

Opportunities (including adjacent applications) lie in developing entrepreneurial ideas, companies and products that enable the further exploitation of space. Possibilities involve small high-value satellites and space platforms, the International Space Station (ISS) and opportunities in biotechnology, exomedicine, novel materials, energy, education, and game design and development…as well as areas and applications not yet imagined.

“The successful development of a commercial and sustainable space marketplace is in large part dependent on disruptive thinking and novel experimentation outside of the traditional boundaries” said Kris Kimel, president of Kentucky Space.

In the initial round, Space Tango will invest in as many as six companies from across the United States, according to the release.

These startups will participate in an intensive 12-week, on-site program, centered in Lexington, Ky., complete with the business services, advisers and networks necessary to successfully start and expand space-driven business.

Companies will be selected primarily on the basis of their idea, science, technology, market fit, customer understanding, management team, and readiness level, according to the release.

Selected companies will have access to a full team scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, sales and marketing professionals, facilities and – most importantly – investors.

Incubator assets include the Exomedicine Institute, Kimel’s Lexington-based, private research and commercialization effort, technical and ground operations centers at Morehead State University Space Science Center (21 meter tracking station) and the University of Kentucky Space Systems Lab and offices at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley in Mountain View, Calif.

“The Office of Commercialization and Innovation is excited about playing a role in the further development of a global space marketplace…as well as a dynamic entrepreneurial space industry cluster in the region” stated Gene Fuqua, KOCI executive director, in the release.

The marketing and due diligence process to select the initial companies will begin immediately, according to the release.

More as we know more.



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