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news | Sep 22, 2022

Reef Starter Announces Innovation Challenge to Increase Access to Space for Startups

Orbital Reef’s Reef Starter to Support the Launch of Breakthrough Innovations in Low Earth Orbit

Reef Starter today announced applications have opened for the first annual Reef Starter Innovation Challenge. The global challenge, in partnership with TechConnect, will select several early-stage companies to receive awards of up to $100,000 and customized workshops with the Orbital Reef team to accelerate their access to space.

Startup applicants from various sectors are invited to demonstrate how they will leverage a low Earth orbit (LEO) destination, including its unique resources such as the microgravity environment and hard vacuum, to introduce new innovations in space for the benefit of Earth. The unique properties of Earth’s orbit provide a wide range of potential benefits in multiple markets, including biopharma, materials science, agriculture, in-space manufacturing, and quantum.

“This Reef Starter Innovation Challenge supports our goal of creating a vibrant community of innovators on Orbital Reef, truly commercializing LEO,” said Shahir Gerges, Director of Business Strategy for Orbital Reef. “The winners of this challenge will create new products and services only possible in space.”

Reef Starter was established to reduce barriers of entry for startups to become users of Orbital Reef, the commercially developed, owned, and operated space station to be built in LEO. The Orbital Reef team is increasing awareness of the benefits of in-space operations for commercial business, providing expertise to advance the next generation of solutions and sparking investment in innovative ideas.

“We created the Reef Starter Innovation Challenge to make a broader impact on the startup community,” said Hyder Alabed, Head of Reef Starter for Orbital Reef. “There’s a wide range of startup sectors that can benefit from working in microgravity, and we’re excited for the opportunity to support founders building in these diverse industries.” 

Innovative companies and aspiring founders with solutions that can leverage an in-space environment are encouraged to apply. Winners will be announced on December 6, 2022.

Visit here for more details on the challenge, application process, and opportunities in microgravity.

About Orbital Reef

Led by principal partners, Blue Origin and Sierra Space, Orbital Reef will open the next chapter of human space exploration and development by facilitating the growth of a vibrant ecosystem and business model for the future. Designed to open multiple new markets in space, Orbital Reef will provide anyone with the opportunity to establish their own address in orbit. This unique destination will offer research, industrial, international, and commercial customers the cost-competitive end-to-end services they need including space transportation and logistics, space habitation, equipment accommodation, and operations including onboard crew.

About TechConnect

With 25+ years of experience connecting emerging technologies with unique funding and partnership opportunities, TechConnect boasts the most robust research and innovation network in the world. It employs a broad scope of tools to deliver top technologies, including open innovation programs, conferences, and open-access publications. Each year, TechConnect prospects, vets, and connects thousands of emerging technologies with corporate, investment, municipal, and national defense clients. TechConnect ( is a division of Advanced Technology International (