At the conclusion of the first Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator in October 2019, companies pitched their ideas to investors and industry partners during an event in Los Angeles. In 2020, the event, known as Demo Day, will take place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator

SAN FRANCISCO – The Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator and Techstars Allied Space Accelerator announced the names June 8 of companies selected to participate in their 2020 classes.

The Techstars Allied Space Accelerator, established late last year with the support of the U.S. Air Force, Netherlands Ministry of Defence, Norwegian Ministry of Defence and Norwegian Space Agency, selected ten startups for its inaugural class.

The 2020 class includes: AlphaBBL, a New York firm developing multi-source imagery data fusion and predictive analytics to monitor oil storage facilities; AnsuR, a Norwegian communications software company; Arway, a London firm creating location-based tools; Houston-based Cognitive Space, a company harnessing artificial intelligence for autonomous satellite operations; Ellipsis Earth Intelligence, a Dutch firm focused on geospatial monitoring; Boston-based Hosta Labs, a company that provides structural assessment with artificial intelligence;  Kayhan Space, a space situational awareness firm based in Boulder, Colorado; SaltyCloud, an Austin, Texas, cybersecurity company; Germany’s Space Products and Innovation GmbH, a firm developing plug-and-play satellite manufacturing tools; and Vake, a Norwegian startup applying artificial intelligence to satellite imagery.

The Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator, established in 2019, named ten startups to participate in its second class. They are Singapore-based Bifrost, a firm using artificial intelligence to label datasets;  Holos, a Madison, Wisconsin, augmented and virtual reality startup; Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Infinite Composites Technologies, a developer of composite pressure vessels and structures; Lux Semiconductors, an Albany, New York, firm developing system-on-foil electronics; Natural Intelligence Systems of Boise, Idaho, an artificial intelligence startup; Prewitt Ridge, a Los Angeles engineering software firm; Satim Inc., a Polish, satellite monitoring firm; Urban Sky, a company collecting Earth imagery with balloons;  vRotors, a Los Angeles remote control drone company; and WeavAir of Toronto, which developed a platform to monitor air quality.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced both accelerators to modify their programs. The Techstars Allied Space Accelerator was designed as a virtual program prior to the pandemic but was expected to culminate in an in-person event in September.

“Due to COVID, we’re going to be baselining a virtual Demo Day,” Jonathan Fentzke, Techstars Allied Space Accelerator managing director told SpaceNews. “Our goal is to engage people in some live-action events that culminate on Demo Day.”

In contrast, the Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator intended to bring participating companies to Los Angeles for the three-month program as it had with its inaugural class. While COVID-19 makes that impossible, Matt Kozlov, Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator managing director, sees some advantages to becoming a virtual accelerator.

In 2019, most Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator partners and mentors traveled to Los Angeles to participate. Now that the accelerator is virtual, “mentors and partners are much closer to the program,” Kozlov said. “We think there will be a lot more connectivity as a result.”

The Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator is sponsored by NASA headquarters, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, Maxar Technologies, SAIC, Israel Aerospace Industries North America and the U.S. Air Force. The Aerospace Corp. also supports the program.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...