Dear Friends and Supporters of the Center for Space Commerce and Finance:
This have been a difficult time for all of us. I hope all you reading this are safe, well, and hanging in there as best you can. I want to begin by taking a brief step back, then continue forward with a discussion of future plans.
We founded CSCF near the end of 2015, when we were encouraged by our main patrons, back then, to “go solo”, as opposed to simply being a project of another advocacy group. It was a struggle to let go, as it were, and find our own footing, but over 2016, we did just that. We built our team and resources, built our first website, and were on our way.
In 2018, we hosted two more NSBPC’s and rebooted the dormant Space Investment Summit (SIS), to great accolades. In November of that year, we co-hosted our first international event, a Space Investment Summit – Europe, in Luxembourg, as a prequel to NewSpace Europe.
Last year, we hosted the business track at ISDC, a Space Investment Summit at NewSpace Conference in Seattle, and a NSBPC at New Worlds Conference in Austin. We also inaugurated the very successful “Mission Eve” podcast, hosted by Co-Founder Meagan Crawford.
We’ve done pretty well over this time on a tiny budget and with a small volunteer staff. But we’ve always yearned to do more and better things. To that end, a lot of ambitious ideas have been put on the table. But of course, those things require time, resources, and people interested in participating.
Last November in Austin, we celebrated 10 years of the NSBPC, helping build great new companies via our competition, but also by providing the personalized coaching and “bootcamps” we held along the way. Our “secret sauce” for a great NSBPC event has yet to be successfully emulated by anyone else. We stand apart, and still at the top of our game. A lot of that has to do with the great present/past sponsors we have had, including, Heinlein Prize Trust (our longest), NASA, SpaceFund, and Orbital ATK (now Northrup Innovations)
But again, we want to do more, and want to do better, and serve our great space business community, as the longest running NSBPC and SIS around.
2020 has presented us with a unique set of challenges and opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly everyone’s plans for 2020. The challenge the Center faces in particular is that in order for us to host events such as these, we require a conference to host them at. As most of the major space conferences have been either cancelled or “gone virtual”, we don’t have a stage to gather upon. While, thankfully, NewSpace Conference in Seattle has formally announced a change of date, it remains to be seen whether we will be able to host a NSBPC or an SIS there. These events cost a lot behind the scenes to produce, take some significant lead time, ergo, there’s more to it than prize money alone. We are running on a lean budget at this stage.
However, the opportunity afforded us from the forced national shutdown, and the cancellation of major conferences around the world, is that we can take a breath, make new plans for 2021, and work on larger and more comprehensive sponsorship initiatives. Not only are we reaching out for corporate support for the podcasts and other events, we are actively applying for grants from a variety of institutions engaged in promoting business development and entrepreneurship in a variety of related industries. I myself have been taking a key role in that latter initiative. It’s a hard slog, but I’ve done it before. So the goal for 2021 is to come back, with new innovative program offerings, better funded SIS and NSBPC events, along with sufficient resources to expand operations. I am confident we have the team and the talent to achieve those ends.
I want to now close with an announcement.
I have a lot on my plate these days, between building my company, Avealto, Ltd., and finding grant support for the Center. But now, and again, given the opportunities emerging from our nation’s present situation, I’m also focusing on a new initiative, one which may, in the long term, also engage the space business community. Stay tuned!
But this also means, I can no longer hold the responsibility of Chairman of the Board for the Center for Space Commerce and Finance, and I am resigning from that position forthwith. I will still retain a Board seat, but we are transitioning to have the energetic and superbly talented Co-Founder Meagan Crawford assume that role.
While I’m closing a chapter, expect to hear from me – a lot – in the coming years. I still have a great deal to give to the space community, and I’ve always been a believer in the adage, “the best is yet to come.”
All the best,
Thomas Andrew Olson
Co-Founder and (former) Chair
Center for Space Commerce and Finance
April 29, 2020