Building startups in the SA Space Industry

South Africa has a long and storied history in the space industry, going back to the late 1950s. As a country, South Africa has played important roles in early space exploration, mission operations, and satellite development and tracking.

Yet despite this history, the South African space industry is remarkably small, with only a few, important, exceptions.

Together with the SA National Space Agency and various other partners, RIIS has helped to design a multi-year space startup support programme. The aim is to build local skills and capabilities for SA entrepreneurs to participate effectively in the global space industry.

Since 2015, we have helped over 50 entrepreneurs develop viable business models and technologies, mostly focused on earth observation / remote sensing. In doing so, our partners have established partnerships with global aerospace giants such as Airbus, and accessed market opportunities in industries as varied as mining, video games, and human rights.

The programmes continues into 2018, with new partners coming on board including groups such as the WITS Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct, the Technology Innovation Agency, and Canadian aerospace multinational MDA (through their subsidiary, Digital Globe).