rocket fueled collaboration
New strategic partnership sets out to bolster Houston's space economy
The Ion innovation district and NASA’s Johnson Space Center are setting up a pipeline for Houston-area entrepreneurs to share ideas and intellectual property with the space agency.
The Ion and NASA are collaborating with Rice University on the new project, which is aimed at creating events, programming, and initiatives to promote the aerospace sector and the use of NASA technologies in the broader economy.
Vanessa Wyche, director of Johnson Space Center, says in a news release that the alliance will “help NASA solve challenges, develop spinoff technologies, grow minority entrepreneurs, and accelerate innovative and tech-forward solutions in Houston.”
Innovations developed through the new project will propel commercialization of space, Wyche says.
Much of the focus of the new alliance will be on minority-owned businesses, as well as aerospace and tech entrepreneurs. The Ion’s Aerospace Innovation Accelerator for Minority Business Enterprises will play a part in this strategy.
As part of the new collaboration, NASA and the Ion will open an application process for interested startups and entrepreneurs in the fall of 2022. The selected applicants will participate in programming through mid-2023.
“NASA’s Johnson Space Center has led the U.S. and the world on an ongoing journey of human exploration, and the Ion is here to accelerate tomorrow’s space endeavors. … Together we will safeguard Houston’s title as ‘Space City’ and advance the global space industry for future missions,” says Jan Odegard, executive director of the Ion.
Houston stands to grab a sizable share of the continuously growing space economy.
A Space Foundation report shows the value of the global space economy rose to $447 billion in 2020, up 4.4 percent from $428 billion in 2019. Morgan Stanley estimates the global space economy could generate revenue of $1 trillion or more by 2040, with satellite broadband representing nearly 40 percent of the sector.
Meanwhile, a report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis indicates the U.S. space economy accounted for $125.9 billion of price-adjusted GDP in 2019.
In Texas, the annual GDP of the space economy is estimated at $11.7 billion. The Perryman Group, a Waco-based economic analysis firm, forecasts this figure could soar to more than $27.3 billion in 2030 and nearly $57.6 billion in 2040.
The Perryman Group says the Texas space economy is expected to expand about 120 percent faster than the U.S. space economy, with the state’s portion of this economy potentially approaching 15 percent by 2040.
“Texas already plays an important role in space exploration and related industries,” the firm says in a report. “With a major public-sector presence, large and growing private-sector initiatives, and aggressive development efforts, the state is likely to significantly increase its share of the [space economy].”