Techstars Picked These 10 Companies to Advance the Future of Space Exploration

Techstars announced its second class of Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator on Monday, a mentorship-driven accelerator based in Los Angeles that aims to help build the next generation of space technology companies.

The class of 10 companies come from Los Angeles, Toronto, Singapore, Poland and states across the U.S. Among them is a company that provides a user-friendly AR/VR platform for use in education and training, a developer of an advanced AI system for data scientists; and an air contamination and quality monitoring system.

Due to COVID-19, the program is being run virtually this year. The accelerator's program partners include the U.S. Air Force, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, Israel Aerospace Industries North America, SAIC and Maxar Technology.

The partner agencies helped select the companies to participate in the program. Each partner agency will provide 10 to 30 mentors, usually executive level or officers from the commercial, civil and military worlds to provide guidance, contacts and help bring the early-stage company to maturity, said Matt Kozlov, the program's managing director.

"Our partners are looking for ways they can work closely not just as a mentor, but to get a commercial agreement, pilot, grant or contracts in place with the startup," Kozlov said.

While roughly half the mentors come from agency partners, the remaining half will be from the broader space and technology industry, including those with SpaceX and Relativity.

The program's predicate is helping companies achieve several years of commercial growth in three months.

Kozlov said most of the companies come in beyond the prototype stage and are about as far along in development as a company in its early commercial days.

More than half of this new class are made up of white men. Kozlov didn't specify the exact number, but said the program needed to do better.

"It's never enough," Kozlov said. "The aerospace and defense sector in particular has struggled. It has been an industry famously dominated by mostly white men. We strive for diversity of background and gender and race and geography as well. We continue to struggle and continue to strive for improvements. At the end of the day, we are not satisfied right now with how we're doing. We need to do better."

The accelerator runs for three months and its demo day is scheduled for Sept. 9.

Per Techstars, here are the 10 companies:

  • Bifrost, which lets you build AI 10x faster by allowing AI developers to generate labelled datasets.
  • Holos, which provides a user-friendly AR/VR software platform that's revolutionizing education, training, and military command and control.
  • Infinite Composites Technologies, which aims to make the most efficient composite pressure vessels and structures in the universe.
  • Lux Semiconductors, which is developing next generation System-on-Foil flexible electronics.
  • Natural Intelligence Systems, which is developing advanced AI systems that provide deeper insight and allows data scientists to focus on results instead of data prep.
  • Prewitt Ridge is developing engineering augmentation software to help engineers design and build complex engineering systems.
  • SATIM Inc., which is a fintech company providing insights on risks related to critical, linear infrastructure.
  • Urban Sky, which provides a stratospheric remote sensing vehicle, the Microballoon, delivers the lowest cost, highest resolution Earth Observation data available.
  • vRotors, which brings telerobotics to everyone: remotely control any partner robot or drone in the world from your PC or VR headset.
  • WeavAir, which offers the most accurate platform for monitoring air contamination, air quality and mechanical system failure using a combination of networked sensor modules and predictive algorithms.

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On this week's episode of LA Venture, hear from Marcos Gonzalez, the managing partner at Vamos Ventures, a seed-stage venture fund which invests in Latino and diverse founders. Over half of L.A. County is Latino. A relatively new fund, investments are in the range of $100,000 to $500,000. Seems like a great time to be investing in this community! And, Vamos is hiring...

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El Segundo-based telemedicine technology provider Cloudbreak Health and Florida-based UpHealth Holdings, a digital healthcare provider, announced they will combine and go public via a SPAC in a deal that values the combined companies at $1.35 billion.

Named UpHealth, Inc., the new company aims to streamline online health care by becoming a single provider of four different services: telehealth, teletherapy, a health care appointment and management system and an online pharmacy.

UpHealth runs healthcare platform Thrasys Inc. and MedQuest Pharmacy, along with two other behavioral health companies. The merger with Cloudbreak, which under the pandemic expanded their interpretation services to remote medicine, will give the new company a foothold in almost 2,000 hospitals.

"What we wanted to do was form a business that could really be a digital infrastructure for health care across the continuum of care, right from home to hospital," said Jamey Edwards, the co-founder and CEO of Cloudbreak. Under the agreement, he will become the company's chief operating officer.

GigCapital2 expects the merger transaction to close at the start of Q1 2021. UpHealth will be publicly traded under the ticker "UPH" on the New York Stock Exchange. UpHealth's integrated care management platform serves over 5 million people, and is expected to reach 40 million over the next three years, according to the company.

Jamey Edwards, Cloudbreak

Jamey Edwards, co-founder and executive director of Cloudbreak

COVID-19 caused a meteoric growth in the use of telehealth services. In February, 0.1% of Medicare primary visits were provided through telehealth. In April, that number was nearly 44%, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"Key stakeholders have seen and responded well to the benefits that telemedicine can bring, but they need a more comprehensive, integrated solution," said Al Gatmaitan, who has been named the co-chief executive officer of UpHealth. "This is what UpHealth focuses on, the adoption of digital health solutions well beyond the pandemic crisis."

The deal with the blank check company GigCapital2 gives the two digital health companies access to a wider network. UpHealth and its family of companies operate in 10 countries and their pharmacy has 13,000 e-prescribers in the U.S.

UpHealth will use the Cloudbreak platform as part of their global telehealth services to provide patients with round-the-clock care under a variety of specialties, including telepsychiatry and tele-urology. UpHealth also has contracts internationally, to provide country-wide care in India, Southeast Asia and Africa.

Edwards joined Cloudbreak in 2008 when it went from public to private. It has raised $35 million in venture funds, most recently in the first quarter of this year scoring $10 million from Columbia Partners Private Capital.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story identified Jamey Edwards as executive director of Cloudbreak, he is its CEO.

Ryan Edwards, the co-founder of Happier Camper, said he's asked all the time if his company leans on influencer marketing to promote their vintage-style trailers beloved by millennials.

With a waitlist six months out and demand growing from hotel-weary travelers, he said it isn't a priority yet.

"We almost don't need to," said Edwards.

That's because the $25,000 to $50,000 custom trailers have been a hit with a loyal fan base, and rising demand during the pandemic has only helped. Orders for compact trailers at the lower price end, including Happier Camper's 75-square-foot camper, are growing as newbie road trippers look for COVID-safe travels.

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