The Creative Destruction Lab has helped build dozens of futuristic companies over the years – now it’s seeking entrepreneurs whose ideas are literally out of this world.
Working closely with former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, the seed-stage accelerator affiliated with the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management is launching a dedicated stream for space startups working on everything from interplanetary transportation to asteroid mining.
The new stream seeks to attract space-focused entrepreneurs from around the world while providing entrepreneurial minded Canadian researchers at places like the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies, or UTIAS, with another way to get their innovative ideas off the ground.
“We see a next-generation of space entrepreneurship on the rise,” says Sheret Ross, a Rotman MBA alumnus who is leading the new CDL stream. “Yet, despite amazing talent in Canada, relatively few of those companies are being created here – we want to change that.”
With a goal of launching 60 successful space startups over the next five years, Ross says CDL plans to build a network of corporate partners, space agencies, astronauts, investors and seasoned entrepreneurs who can support these “really amazing PhD or master’s level students who want to commercialize their research” in the space realm.
A key ingredient will be the stream’s fellows – starting with Hadfield, one of Canada’s most accomplished astronauts and a founding fellow. The Sarnia, Ont., native has served in a variety of roles at NASA including as commander of the International Space Station, making him the first Canadian to command a spaceship. He will be joined at CDL by Anousheh Ansari, the co-founder of the Ansari X-Prize and the first self-funded woman to fly in space, and Christine Tovee, the former CTO of Airbus Group North America.
“We are at the frontier of a new space economy,” Hadfield said in a statement. “Now is the time to place a bet on the next generation of space entrepreneurs.”