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Casey DeRaad on NewSpace Nexus and navigating government procurement.

Casey Anglada DeRaad, CEO at NewSpace Nexus, a non-profit company dedicated to helping new space companies get to market.





NewSpace Nexus is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit that is accelerating the pace of space innovation by uniting and igniting the industry. NewSpace Nexus CEO Casey Anglada DeRaad walks us through the Unite & Ignite Space, a first-of-its-kind co-innovation hub where stakeholders gain access to workspaces, equipment, programming, rapid prototyping and demonstration, and resources needed for innovation and rapid progress.  

You can connect with Casey on LinkedIn and learn more about NewSpace Nexus on their website.

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>> Maria Varmazis: Welcome to T-Minus Deep Space from N2K Networks. I'm Maria Varmazis, host of the T-Minus Space daily podcast. Deep Space includes extended interviews and bonus content for a deeper look into some of the topics that we cover on our daily program.

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While starting a new company is daunting at the best of times, aerospace companies have the hurdles of raising capital, navigating R and D to validate their products, and then finally getting their business to market. Now, NewSpace Nexus is offering up a one-stop shop to help these companies figure out their propositions, and help them navigate the dreaded valley of death, AKA the government procurement process. CEO Casey Anglada DeRaad joins us to explain the NewSpace Nexus mission from New Mexico to Nationwide.

>> Casey Anglada DeRaad: Okay, well, I have to give a little background about myself to tell you how it came about. I have a long career with the Air Force Research Lab working on space systems, and later partnerships, had a time with working with NASA, and helping with investment funds between NASA, Navy, NRO. So I had this long career at the latter part working partnerships with trying to help space industry, space companies be able to navigate and work with the government systems, and then - and also university partnerships. Also did some kind of growing the STEM workforce. So that was sort of my career, but I just saw so many challenges for our companies to understand where the resources are, and especially our New Mexico companies. And so I hit the early retirement date, jumped out of Air Force research lab and decided to tell the story about the possibilities and the opportunity in space. And at the time when I first, you know, was working within the Air Force, a lot of the space funding came from government, the government side. But here, the commercial and the private space industry is really thriving for about, you know, the last 10 years. If you take 2010 and earlier, it was mostly just government funding. So this commercial space, this new space was coming forward and really expanding, and so the opportunity was there. So we put together you know, a public-private partnership where we really studied who are all the partners? And we put out a report, it's on our website. It was in 2019 where we really looked at here's the opportunity, New Mexico's position to take a leadership role with all the various assets we have here between the Space Force organizations, White's has missile range, NASA, Space Port America, our universities all have great resources in that area. So we're positioned to lead. And so with that, we came up with some strategy where we really need to put together some kind of council, figure out how to do, you know, put a business connector together, a workforce connector, and then also figure out the funding. So with that, we started non-profit organization, New Space New Mexico it started out. That's the corporate name. Right now, we're doing business as NewSpace Nexus, but - so we started it basically to do those three things. We put together an alliance that NewSpace alliance has now grown to over 250 space organizations. We put together some - that business connecting. We have our - what we call our NewSpace Igniter program to help companies navigate through the valley of death, and then we also have some great resources, like we have an open prototyping event, workspace called the Launch Pad. And the basics of it all, though, is we say we unite and ignite space. So on the unite side, of course, we have our alliance where we bring people together, but we also do some networking events. Locally, we call it the T5 third - thirsty Thursday tech talks, and everyone comes together. And then we also lead national level forums on the space industrial base. So this is the unite side, like I said, and I think the key thing about NewSpace Nexus is that we are here to listen to the companies. We bring them together in many different forums, and we really look at like what are the challenges, the gaps, the issues that need to be solved, and then put together, you know, work locally but also nationally with some of our regional partners with okay, how do we go address this certain area? And what are the recommendations? And who needs to hear these recommendations and put some resources to it? So that's the unite side. The ignite side is we have a partnership intermediary agreement with the Air Force research lab funded through an appropriation by Senator Heinrich's office. Thank you, Senator. And it basically is a 5-year agreement to put together the resources to help the companies ignite, accelerate faster, their innovation faster. So we have this launch pad that is this co-innovation, open prototype being the companies can come work there, we can have events there, and it's a really cool space. You've got to visit us sometime. It's in Albuquerque in the airport. We also to ignite is we set up the NewSpace igniter program, and that is where we have 23 companies in the program, and they come in at different levels. We basically help navigate. First, you know, do an assessment, help them get their messages clearer, figure out what kind of hardware, software, experts that they need, and we help navigate with them, we say through the valley of death. And then the last part of the program is we showcase them. We do what we call show spaces, and we might showcase them to the different funding sources like investor, our investor network, we have government customers, or even other prime contractors that they can partner with. So those are kind of like our two sides of the story that we're just here for the space companies. We don't do it all, but we help either connect them or help represent them to get to work force, to get to experts, to get to economic development types. And a lot of our companies -- we work nationwide, but a lot of our companies, once they see the resources and the great ecosystem we have here with the various organizations, you know, they want to come here. So they'll try and set up. So we just help make that path very easy.

>> Maria Varmazis: That's amazing because you mentioned the valley of death, and that is a phrase that has come up so many times in this podcast, and to have the expertise to help guide you through that. And not just that, but before and after. I mean, that's an amazing service to be providing. I know you have some great success stories of companies you've shepherded through. Are any that you can talk about or tell me about a little bit?

>> Casey Anglada DeRaad: There's actually a few that are in the works of getting some funding support. We have - we just started that igniter program in October, and we're tracking - we're at 7.3 million of different contract wins that they've gotten since and because of working with us. So that has been really good, and if you think about New Mexico and even when Senator Heinrich wanted to do this appropriation, the key part is like help put resources together like the launch pad, but also put together some kind of industry demonstration program that helps them get out of R and D, or you know, beyond R and D, because you know, New Mexico is very well known with the different national labs, federal labs, that you know, we have a lot of great R and D, but how do you take these - what we call the concept, so it's in that R and D, and make it get to a product, then get it to sales, and so with that, like some of our companies are RS21, , Charles [inaudible], they've gotten a couple contracts from our help with that navigating them to the government customers that they could get a win. O ANALYTICS, BlueSpace, Goodman Technology. I wasn't ready for this one, but we do have a number of wins, and the companies love us because we have this - what we say our secret sauce is is our team. You know, our NewSpace Nexus team, we have over 90 years of experience in military, civil, and commercial space. We have some expertise in strategic sales and product development, and then our engagement team is just the best at putting on events and like, we're one of the first hybrid virtual conferences, and then hybrid when things opened up. So our team has this expertise, and then we have a consulting team that we bring on for like, just you know, real specific needs that can help the companies. And then after that, we have what's called our igniter expert network, which we have over 45 people in it now and it includes, you know, previous commanders of Air Force research lab, and chief scientists, and investors, and so our companies have this wealth of expertise when they come to us that they'll be able to get what they need.

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>> Maria Varmazis: We'll be right back after this quick break.

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I know you mentioned at the beginning that NewSpace Nexus is also a nonprofit, so I'm curious. That is quite a different tactic, quite a different thing from many organizations that I speak to. I imagine - that does make you quite unique. Can you talk a little bit about that?

>> Casey Anglada DeRaad: Well, I think one of the key things is you know, the companies see us as part of their team, and that we can help, you know, get them through these processes. One of our companies has said, you know, working with us has cut at least a year off of their development cycle because they get to the needed resources faster. But the reason we wanted to do a nonprofit is we want to be this trusted resource to the space companies, and I think they value us, they know that we're, you know, we're not here to compete with them. We're here to help them. And so that's where it's been beneficial to be a nonprofit.

>> Maria Varmazis: I wanted to switch gears a little bit about the state of the space industrial base. Could you tell me a bit about what that is? Because I know it's pretty major, so I'd love to learn more about it.

>> Casey Anglada DeRaad: Right. Well, we started in actually 2019. It was one of the DIU - Defense Innovation Unit - some of the companies, Air Force resource lab got together and really looked at what the challenges were for the space industrial base. The next year, Peter Wagner, one of our advisors, was saying KCU, you know, NewSpace New Mexico, at the time, really needs to be involved in this because it's all about - you are all about the space industrial base, and this is a workshop to really, you know, not just identify the challenges, but start figuring out the solutions. So in 2020, we started hosting the State of the Space Industrial Base, and it - we did this with our key partners, the Defense Innovation Unit, the Space Force, and the Air Force research lab. The basics of the conferences, we host the conference, we set up working groups in topics that need, you know, that there's challenges and we need addressing. There's usually like the space policy and finance, there's remote sensing launch. Now, work force, STEM, and education. So the working group, you know, will bring in speakers in all of these areas, keynote speakers, but then we go off and have these working groups. It's kind of cool, we do [inaudible] house rules so no one can attribute, you know, what's been said. And so there's a lot of really great, open discussion. We call it - it's kind of like an unconference. It's not a bunch of talking heads telling you the way things are. It's where it's a participatory workshop, and so this year, we had about 300 participants, and usually about 100 primarily probably 75% industry. So it's not a bunch of government, even though the government, you know, the government leaders are partners. This year, NASA was a key participant, as well. We have great leadership from commerce, NASA, DOD that all get involved. Last year, we ended up doing a specific workshop in Cape Canaveral partnering with Space Florida. So NewSpace Nexus is kind of like the glue behind the scenes on the external workshops, but so Dale Ketcham from Space Florida ran that workshop. This year, we also partnered with Space Northwest and again, we - NewSpace Nexus was kind of behind the scenes helping run that. And then the main conference is hosted by us, so we're definitely more out front with doing it. But after the workshop, they - all these working groups get this awesome information, and then it's put together in a report that comes out, usually about August timeframe each year, and I -

>> Maria Varmazis: So you're working on it right now.

>> Casey Anglada DeRaad: Yes. I was just going to say that the last two years, I led the workforce education working group. And literally today, after this, the rest of my day is to finish up the workforce part of the report.

>> Maria Varmazis: Thank you for taking your time out of your day. I know that those deadlines are hard when you're right up against them, so thank you for speaking with me in length. I was going to say, can we get a little preview of what's coming out in August? Any insights that you can share?

>> Casey Anglada DeRaad: There's just been so much, I think so much going on, especially in commercial space that one of the things - I think what's been really cool about these workshops and these conferences and these reports is that you know, once you see it come out, you really start seeing the actual recommendations in the international conversation. I think like, for example, space should be considered critical infrastructure, and we're getting more and more and more to that point. But you know, we had a doctor [inaudible] speak at our conference in June, who is a space policy leader for the White House. And with that, you know, she has put out some policy papers, and I think we're getting closer and closer to where, you know, space with how it's so linked with the banking, with you know, sensing, the Ukraine conflict. There's been huge, huge challenges and accomplishments from using space. So some things that will come out of that report are recommendations such as that. In the workforce area, I know I'm really happy. A lot of the space companies have put out a space workforce challenge to be able to bring in more diversity, to include more. You know, we have these workforce shortages, but are we tapping our whole - everyone out there to be able to be part of it? So there's some really cool things in that area that we're going to be, you know, putting out in the report. And with that, one of the things from the workforces that NewSpace Nexus is - we've sort of been studying the issue and we're really going to move out on it this next year, is what we're calling pathways to the stars. And you know, there's a lot of programs, especially in STEM that are just really good pockets of programs, but there's not this connectivity to an actual industry base. So we're looking at, you know, going in and mapping out those different programs that, you know, started at the inspiration level of third through fifth, and then maybe some curriculum programs in middle school, internship and apprenticeships in like the high school, early college, and to the final point of job placement. So we've gotten a number of companies that are sponsors to sign on and say yes, we'll help. Because I tell them, "You can't expect - you can't complain that there's not a workforce pipeline, a talent pipeline and then just expect to help at maybe the internship level and job placement; you need to get down here in the trenches with us." So we're setting up where the companies support us financially together, but also through mentorship. And so we will draft off of some of the things happening with the space workforce 2030 initiative, but also just really trying to look at like how do you take one industry sector and make this pathway? And if it works, you could do it in other industry sectors. So let's talk in about a year and let's see how much progress we make.

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>> Maria Varmazis: And that's it for T-Minus Deep Space for July twenty-ninth, 2023. We'd love to know what you think of this podcast. You can email us at space@n2k.com or submit the survey in our show notes. Your feedback ensures that we deliver the information that keeps you a step ahead in the rapidly changing space industry. This episode was produced by Alice Carruth, mixing by Elliott Peltsman and Trey Hester, with original music and sound design by Elliott Peltsman. Our executive producer is Brandon Karpf. Our chief intelligence officer is Eric Tillman, and I'm Maria Varmazis. Thanks for listening.

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