“This means twice the potential, and twice the possibilities for participating ventures.”
Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) is taking its space stream to the global stage as it expands the accelerator program to Atlanta in the United States as well as Paris, France. This marks CDL’s first globally-spanning stream.
After four years of operating the space stream at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, CDL will be bringing the program to Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business and HEC Paris. The accelerator first opened Atlanta and Paris locations in 2019.
“You’ve got to be innovative about what you do to prove the value of your product … CDL helped us think about that.”
– Chris Robson
CDL’s space program is led by Colonel Chris Hadfield who is the first Canadian to walk in space and the former commander of the International Space Station. Throughout the nine-month program, CDL provides pre-seed to pre-Series A tech startups with capital, as well as technical and business support.
Founders also receive mentorship from astronauts, entrepreneurs, investors, and scientists from fields related to space exploration and transportation, satellite communications, Earth observation, automation, and robotics.
As CDL space goes international, Toronto will offer its existing network of mentors and investors, which include former Shopify Plus general manager and current Podium COO Loren Padelford; SpaceFund general partner Luke Moloney; Kepler Communications co-founder and CEO Mina Mitry; Silicon Valley Robotics managing director Andra Keay; and more.
In addition to their business experience, mentors in all three cities will also bring to the table what they know about their countries’ space industries, venture capital ecosystems, and regulatory environments.
CDL claims that the global space stream also bridges the gap between North America and Europe, which have different landscapes in space exploration and commercialization.
“This means twice the potential, and twice the possibilities for participating ventures,” CDL said.
Christine Tovee, a CDL-Paris mentor who’s been involved in a number of space projects, said that space is a relatively small sector with really particular skills that are needed. “If you don’t have a global perspective from the start in the space sector, you’re limiting your horizons,” she said.
When the space stream launched in 2018, CDL said it wanted to launch 60 space companies in the following five years. As it approaches its proposed timeline, 100 startups have been accepted to join the program and 35 companies have graduated from the space stream to date.
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Satellite intelligence firm Wyvern is one of CDL’s notable space alumnis. CDL noted that when Wyvern’s co-founders first entered the program in its first launch, they were only working on the venture part-time. By the end of the program, Wyvern had full-time founders, an employee, an advisory board, and interest from a dozen customers which includes one that is worth tens of millions of dollars.
Earlier this year Wyvern secured a $4 million investment from the federal government’s Sustainable Development Technology Canada. As it joined Y Combinator’s 2022 cohort in January, Wyvern also revealed that it raised $4.5 million USD across its pre-seed and seed funding rounds.
“Space is not a typical industry,” Wyvern CEO Chris Robson said. “You can’t just make a product in your garage or on your computer, and send it up on a rocket. You’ve got to be innovative about what you do to prove the value of your product to customers and to get customer traction. CDL helped us think about that.”
Feature image from Creative Destruction Lab