Atlanta is about to embark on its own type of space race, thanks to a new program housed at Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business.
Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), an international organization for startup founders, is expanding its Space Stream into Atlanta and Paris. It aims to be the largest concentration of seed-stage space-focused ventures in the world.
The Space Stream has operated in Toronto for the last four years under the leadership of former NASA astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield and has worked with 27 space-related startups to date.
CDL will look to recruit 20 new ventures through the international expansion. Lydia Turkié, CDL-Atlanta’s Director, said the program’s overall goal is to launch 150 companies that create over $700 million in equity value by 2026.
Space is one of 16 overall focus areas for CDL, a non-profit, nine-month-long mentorship program. The program looks to “match science-based innovations born in labs with the right business perspective,” said Turkié.
“The new Global Space Stream will bring together the wide and strong network of space professionals in Atlanta: astronauts, entrepreneurs, space investors, and scientists,” Turkié told Hypepotamus. “Through our mentorship program, founders will get the chance to benefit from the expertise of this network to accelerate their ventures, raise capital and conquer the market.”
The Space Stream will look for startups building in both space-based and Earth-based technologies, be it in analytics, satellite hardware, navigation, manufacturing, space situational awareness, robotics, or so-called “moonshot” projects in deep space exploration.
“My long-term dream has always been space colonization,” JP James, chairman and lead investor at Hive Financial Systems and a CDL-Atlanta mentor, wrote in a statement. “But the path from here to there requires a combination of expertise, entrepreneurship, capital, and government support. CDL connects all of these components in a transformative way.”
The program will also link together the emerging space communities in Atlanta, Toronto, and Paris. This is particularly important as startups navigate the different commercialization landscapes and international space regulations. Turkié added that the Space Stream will “nurture transatlantic synergies between talents on both sides of the pond.”
Atlanta’s Global Impact On The Space Community
Atlanta is a natural expansion site for CDL’s cosmic ambitions.
Georgia Tech alone has 1,400 current students studying in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering, making it the largest of the top US university programs. It has also produced 14 astronauts and multiple space-focused and aerospace startup ventures.
The US Space Force also heavily recruits out of the university through its new partnership program.
The wider Georgia Tech community is also invested, as Turkié said Scheller College of Business recently launched a Space Club for students interested in the industry.
The Southeast’s wider space community was another draw for selecting Atlanta. Six out of NASA’s fifteen centers and facilities are located in the region, including the famed Kennedy Space Center and the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.
Other Southeast space hubs include Florida High Tech Corridor, the Tennessee Space Institute, Huntsville’s Cummings Research Park, and multiple universities with aerospace programs and majors.
CDL-Atlanta’s International Reach
Atlanta is no stranger to CDL and its international connections. Georgia Tech is one of ten universities around the globe to house a CDL program. Others schools include the University of Oxford, Dalhousie University, Rotman School of Management, UBC Sauder, HEC Paris, University of Calgary, HEC Montreal, University of Washington, and the University of Wisconsin.
To date, CDL-Atlanta has focused on ecommerce-related startups, which attracted founders from England, Canada, Israel, and across the US.
The program grew out of Atlanta’s evolving e-commerce founder and investor community. Key partners in the Atlanta Commerce Stream are Frank Blake, The Home Depot’s former CEO, and Sid Mookerji, founder of Atlanta-based VC Silicon Road.
Current Georgia Tech MBA and Ph.D. students work with CDL companies from across the globe through TI:GER (Technology Innovation: Generating Economic Results), a competitive, transdisciplinary program designed to prepare students to work in high-growth technology fields.