We caught up with Nick Trudgen, Co-Founder of SpaceChain MENA and CCO of SpaceChain – a platform that offers space-as-a-service for modern businesses, enabling companies to explore and realise the great potential of space and Blockchain technologies. The company has recently announced the opening of its UAE office in Abu Dhabi to mark its foray into the burgeoning space sector in the Middle East.
The new office is located at Hub71, Abu Dhabi’s global tech ecosystem, where the company will spearhead the planning and development of integrated space-blockchain projects and initiatives in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Why have you chosen to base your Middle East headquarters in Abu Dhabi and specifically at Hub71?
We chose Abu Dhabi as the location of the SpaceChain Middle East headquarters because of the hugely ambitious programs set out by the UAE Space Agency in the National Space Strategy 2030. The Emirates Mars Mission has inspired people around the world, and SpaceChain is determined to play its part in the development of the UAE’s space sector by contributing to exciting space missions which encourage the public and future generations to further explore space technologies.
Initiatives such as the Mars 2117 project is a plan to establish the first inhabitable human settlement on Mars by 2117 and has positioned the UAE as one of the most ambitious spacefaring nations in the world. This aligns perfectly with SpaceChain's ambitious goals to remove barriers and allow a global community to access and collaborate in the space sector.
Hub71 provides access to the region's most respected and dynamic technology ecosystem, and SpaceChain places a strong importance on partnering with leaders in technology and investment. Therefore, we are proud to join the Hub71 community and establish long term partnerships with Mubadala, Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and other strategic partners.
How will your business contribute to the Middle East and the UAE’s growing Space sector? What do you aim to achieve from your new presence in Abu Dhabi?
SpaceChain has successfully built a spaceflight heritage over the past four years through a number of satellite launches and was involved in space projects in the US, UK, China and Singapore.
We plan to leverage our world-class technology expertise and build a tech team here in the UAE made up of engineers who are passionate about advancing space technologies.
SpaceChain has developed strong international partnerships across the globe with national space agencies, launch companies, LEO satellite companies, payload providers and universities. Space missions are always collaborative and international in nature, and SpaceChain has led space projects with the European Space Agency, Innovate UK and other partners from the private sector such as NanoRacks, SpaceX, Elecnor Deimos, Alba Orbital and Spire.
So, we hope to initiate and lead ambitious space missions here in the UAE, including expanding our Decentralized Satellite Infrastructure (DSI) project into the MENA region alongside partners here in the UAE. DSI is an ambitious project supported by the UK's national innovation agency Innovate UK, whose goal is to create an open-source, peer to peer, and collaborative satellite constellation. This constellation will provide applications across digital banking, FinTech, Blockchain, VR, metaverse and other Web3 industries, where Abu Dhabi is leading the way.
How will being part of the Hub71 ecosystem help you attract startups that operate in Space, Blockchain and FinTech?
The Hub71 ecosystem is comprised of leading space startups like StarLab Oasis and Precious Payload, as well as a number of leading FinTech startups. This provides a strong foundation for SpaceChain to engage with partners, customers and investors in the UAE and the MENA region in general.
Being part of the Middle East's leading tech ecosystem at Hub71 will help SpaceChain attract new talent, market our projects, connect with investors and establish new partnerships in the region.
What untapped opportunities in the UAE and MENA’s Space sector do you aim to address?
The UAE National Space Strategy is extremely ambitious, so there are many opportunities for SpaceChain to contribute to achieving the UAE's space objectives.
One area of great importance is leveraging a range of communication channels to raise public awareness on the UAE's space ambitions. In this respect, SpaceChain is well aligned to contribute by engaging with the community via social media. Our satellite launches are being broadcasted on social media in order to raise awareness and stimulate interest in the space industry, especially among the younger generation.
There is also untapped potential in the UAE for developing CubeSats, in particular, student-led small satellite missions with universities, to help train young engineering students in the design and implementation of satellite missions.
One of the most exciting untapped opportunity in the space sector in the UAE, is the development of spaceports for commercial launch. An important part of the development of a spaceport is the growth of an adjoining space cluster, made up of satellite companies, a satellite AIT facility, launch companies and satellite applications.
We believe that with our strong international partnerships across the global space sector, we will be able to help attract space startups to the UAE’s spaceport, facilitate partnerships, plan and initiate missions and help develop the UAE’s spaceport into a world class space cluster.
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