Aviation International News: Aerospace Accelerator Starburst Drives Next-Gen Disruption

Source: Aviation International News, Paris Air Show Feature – June 13, 2023


Starburst looks to cultivate new technologies in advanced air mobility and air traffic management among several other sectors. Founder and CEO Francois Chopard oversaw $1 billion in investments as of last year’s third quarter.


Calling itself the world’s first and only aerospace “accelerator,” Starburst returns to the Paris Air Show this week boasting a portfolio of more than 140 startups and an expanded footprint in key global markets. Founded by CEO Francois Chopard in 2012, the incubator aims to identify innovation in aviation, aerospace, and defense, and looks to cultivate new technologies in space exploration, remote sensing, air traffic management, advanced air mobility, and artificial intelligence.


“We scout for start-ups that are building viable businesses around innovative, feasible technologies, and we accelerate and invest in those that we believe will disrupt the aerospace industry—ultimately leading to a safer, greener, and more connected world,” Chopard told AIN.


With offices in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Paris, Munich, Singapore, Seoul, Tel Aviv, and Madrid, Starburst manages a global workforce of 70 team members with 20 accelerator programs.  Under the company’s 12-month flagship accelerator program, its top ten start-ups – Momentus, Zero Avia, Red 6, WhiteFox Defense Technologies, Launcher (acquired by VAST), Ampaire, Destinus, Morpheus Space, Orbital Sidekick, and First Resonance – raised more than $1 billion as of the third quarter of 2022.


“Mentorship is a key component of Starburst accelerators,” said Starburst Principal Nate Mason. “Drawing from our diverse community of passionate experts, we can match each start-up with a relevant mentor in any domain of technology and at any stage of maturity. The results speak for themselves—start-ups that participate in our accelerators are four times more likely to raise their next round of funding than the market.”


To drive the next era of tech innovation forward, Starburst manages two active venture funds—Starburst Ventures and Expansion—and oversees a vast network of 15,000 start-ups.  On the partnership side, Starburst is connected to over 60 government entities and corporations, including Boeing, Airbus, NASA, Lockheed Martin, Thales, Daher, Dassault, Air France, Singapore Airlines, and Hyundai.

Starburst’s deep reach also benefits entrepreneurs in Asia-Pacific. Building on the success of its electronics, IT, automobiles, and marine industries, Korea now aims to establish itself as a leader in aerospace and defense (A&D), said Sangdawn Kim, Managing Director, Korea.


“Starburst has close relationships with several leading Korean accelerators,” said Kim. “We are eager to introduce our global portfolio startups to Korea while also identifying new Korean aerospace and defense companies to join our community, with the goal of building an innovation hub in Korea.”


Starburst has also chosen Singapore as a launch pad to assist entrepreneurs to expand their business across the region, added Julius Yeo, Managing Director, Singapore.


“We are particularly bullish about the tech market for sustainability and decarbonization, which we believe holds immense potential for growth.”


Recognizing the barriers start-ups face when accessing funding, navigating local regulations, and building necessary partnerships, Starburst coordinates across government and industries to promote fresh perspectives and consensus-building. Looking at emerging technologies, Elizabeth Reynolds, Managing Director of Starburst USA, expressed enthusiasm about cross-industry/dual-use applications but recognizes the insular nature of A&D markets and the lack of cross-border and cross-industry collaboration in complex adaptive systems.


“One of the great challenges we face as an industry is that our legacy, prime, and government acquisition systems are built for linear, static relationships that don’t exist anymore,” Reynolds told AIN. “This creates friction and results in some of the best technologies being developed for other less difficult industries. It’s imperative for industry health and national security that we rethink the acquisition process.”