Since 2014, the Colorado aerospace economy has grown by nearly 20% and, as of 2019, supplies almost $15B to the state economy. Until recently, this growth has been fueled through investments in heavy engineering and scientific disciplines to build things like rockets, satellites, new sensors, etc.; all of the pieces that make up our data-driven and connected world. It might seem like those investments would fuel the region’s future growth. However, at RIoT LX: Ticket to Launch, attendees learned that we are entering a new era of opportunity in space.

RIoT welcomed Mark Sirangelo to The Dome at AMG. Mark highlighted his work that helped establish Colorado as the country’s second-largest aerospace economy. From his time as the Chief Innovation Officer for Colorado, and CEO at the Sierra Nevada Corporation, the audience heard the context behind where the industry stands today and where it is heading. Spearheaded with opportunities through the University of Colorado, entrepreneurs saw the expanding horizons and growth within aerospace.

This message of opportunity was expanded by the second speaker of the afternoon, Shelli Brunswick, COO of the Space Foundation. Shelli discussed the education initiatives aimed to train and develop the new skills needed for the growth of space businesses and the need to encourage those under-represented groups to think beyond terrestrial roles. New jobs are emerging in data analytics to ground control system design, implementation, and maintenance that need new skills.

The topic then shifted toward the entrepreneur’s perspective. Justin Cyrus from Lunar Outpost gave his thoughts on the current landscape for entrepreneurs. After outlining his own journey with creating a new aerospace business, he closed with a challenge to representatives currently in economic development roles to drive future growth. A planetary-body test facility would cement Colorado as a leader in new space opportunities for Justin and other companies.

German Nunez closed out the event.  German is a veteran in the industry who took a different path throughout his career. He spoke of his realization that there are many jobs within the aerospace industry that people are responsible for, but it’s nobody’s expertise to accomplish those tasks. This insight will only grow more prominent as the capabilities and scope of our endeavors in space broaden. New specialties will emerge, and people with expertise in data processing, cybersecurity, and other data-driven skillsets will be needed to drive value from generated data.

Join our next Colorado event, RIoT LXII: Colorado Tech Showcase, as we open up to the broader tech community in the Rockies on September 16th.