PhilSA backs DTI-backed S-booster space ideas competition

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Enterprising individuals and companies with a passion for space can have a chance to win up to 10 million yen (about 3.956 million pesos) in the S-booster contest, a press release from the Agency said. Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA).

S-Booster is a Japanese space idea competition that welcomes business ideas related to space business applications.

Cabinet Office of Japan Director General of International Cooperation Shoichiro Sakaguchi.

The pitch competition is open to individuals, companies, startups and companies from different industries in Japan and the Asia-Oceania region who are looking to commercialize their business ideas using space assets such as rockets, satellites, commercial space stations, ground systems and space technologies and data.

Applications are open to the Asia and Oceania region. The deadline for submitting applications is June 20 at 5:00 p.m. Japan Standard Time (4:00 p.m. Philippine Standard Time.)

The winning space idea will receive the grand prize of 10 million yen (about 3.956 million pesos), PhilSA said.

The annual event was first launched in 2017 by the Japan Cabinet Office, the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (Nedo) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa).

This year’s competition was launched at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) International Building in Makati City on June 1.

The event was organized by the Japan Cabinet Office and the DTI Competitiveness Bureau, in partnership with the DTI Foreign Trade Service Corps and the DTI Tokyo.

DTI Under Secretary for Competitiveness and Innovation, Rafaelita Aldaba, presented the department’s innovation programs at the event.

DTI Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba and PhilSA Director Noelle Riza Castillo.

Aldaba highlighted the importance of building a robust startup ecosystem in the country, hence the support from DTI behind S-Booster. “We have over 800 start-ups, over 50 investors, 35 incubators and accelerators, over 200 coworking spaces, over 40 venture capitalists, and right now the valuation of the [Philippine Startup] The ecosystem is about $1 billion,” she said.

Shoichiro Sakaguchi, Director General of International Cooperation of the Cabinet Office of Japan, introduced the S-Booster competition and introduced the Japanese space program.

He said: “Japan is helping many countries to deploy small microsatellites into orbit from the International Space Station using the Kibo module, this provides access to space in a cheaper way than using large ones. Japan has collaborated with the Philippines through Diwata satellites, and I hope for continued collaborations in the future,” he said.

He mentioned that Japan has invited the commercial sector for space ventures and that “S-Booster opens up new space startups in Asia by supporting the commercialization of every idea with Japanese industries.”

Noelle Riza Castillo, director of PhilSA’s Office of Space Policy and International Cooperation, highlighted the agency’s role in the development of the space industry through its various space business development projects.

One of the projects is the development of the Philippine Satellite Manufacturing Industry Roadmap 2022-2032, in partnership with the DTI Board of Investments.

It aims to support the creation of a safe, robust and conducive space business environment for the local satellite manufacturing industry and to promote the participation of local space-adjacent industries in the global supply chain.

“It is one of PhilSA’s primary goals to encourage the growth of a local space industry and economy,” Castillo said.

Previous participants shared their hackathon experiences during the event, especially the skills and mentorship acquired during the competitions.

Ellarizza Fredelices, winner of the Rapid Prototype Development Challenge award for 2021, said the competition not only provided an opportunity to gain knowledge, but also to prove their project concept. She said the experience made her feel the need to give back and start her own hackathon for local startups.

“My agenda [for joining] was simple – I just wanted to learn. But as the challenge progressed, I realized it had something bigger to offer its participants.

Fredelices also shared that the competitions give contestants the opportunity to learn from the experts themselves.

“I remembered that some of them were the authors of studies that I had cited when I was doing my thesis. I was fangirling, if I can use the term,” Fredelices added.

Video messages from Japanese corporate sponsors RiskTaker, Mitsui & Co. Ltd. and Sony Group Corp. were also aired at the event.

S-Booster candidates will go through mentorship programs from established companies to hone their pitches. In the final round, presentations will be made to investors and large corporations to promote business matching.

Picture credits: S-booster, Phil SA

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