Interview: Jeroen Rotteveel, CEO and Co-founder, Innovative Solutions In Space BV

JRotSpace Tech Expo Europe got the chance to find out more about first-time exhibitor Innovative Solutions In Space BV (ISIS) by talking to the CEO and Co-founder Jeroen Rotteveel.

Jeroen Rotteveel is the CEO and co-founder of Innovative Solutions In Space BV (ISIS) a 85 FTE small-satellite company based in Delft and South Africa. Having graduated with a degree in Aerospace Engineering from Delft University of Technology, he has used his expertise in a number of positions including Treasurer of Holland Space Cluster, Chairman of SpaceNed (Netherlands branch organisation for space companies) and Roadmap Coordinator Satellite Constellations (NSO Roadmap).


Please tell us about your current role. What are your key focus areas and responsibilities?

As CEO I am mainly focused on the long(er) term of the company: where can we make an impact in the space sector in the years down the road, and what do we need to start doing now to make that happen.

 

What inspired you to join/start this company?

We started this company 12.5 years ago as we believed that the nanosat approach to space had tremendous value in shortening the innovation cycles in the space business and maximising technological progress without unsustainable financial risk. At the time, we were the third company in the world to fully focus on the nanosatellite domain and it is great to see how far we have come, both as a company and as the entire nanosatellite community.

 

What do you think sets your company apart from your competitors?

We started out as a full solutions provider and as such a systems approach to space projects permeates the entire company. We like to work together with customers to realise a satellite mission within the constraints of budgets and timelines. Our multidisciplinary team is really our main strength here. We manage to help our customers focus on their core business more and more as we include more and more space infrastructure elements in our turnkey solutions offering. In fact, most satellite contracts we sign these days involve some sort of extended services, from launch services and ‘in-orbit delivery’, all the way to fully managed infrastructure on behalf of the customer.

 

What are the key opportunities and challenges your company faces at present?

After growing steadily at 30-35% a year for the last decade, we are now at the next stage to really establish us as a significant SME player in the space domain. We have a strong growth ambition in the small-satellite field and will have to work hard to realise that together with our team and our partners and suppliers. Finding the right talented engineers and managers to help us achieve that is a challenge, as talented staff remain hard to find these days.

 

Are there any new technology developments that you are working on at the moment? Can you tell us about them?

We are working on many new technologies to further integrate functionalities and improve our core satellite avionics. However, the most interesting development is to get our avionics qualified for use outside of low Earth orbit. We have had the opportunity to fly some of our equipment on a Moon mission in May 2018, and from there we are investing in a cubesat avionics line suitable for lunar and interplanetary exploration, spreading the cost-effectiveness of nanosatellites throughout the solar system.

 

What would you say most excites you about your role?

Being at the forefront of new developments, whether it is within our organisation or within the larger space community, is tremendously exciting. Being a space systems engineer by training, I am very broadly interested in all sorts of technological developments; as an entrepreneur, I cannot help but see interesting commercial opportunities. Being able to operate right at the bleeding edge of what is possible or just around the corner is therefore very rewarding.

 

How do you think the industry will develop within the next five years? Can you tell us about the key trends emerging?

There is certainly a lot going on in our niche market at the moment. On the satellite manufacturing side, I expect the recent wave of consolidation to continue for a while before that stabilises again. On the launch service provider side I am particularly looking forward to seeing new entrants coming into the market, as access to space is still one of the main barriers to the success of small satellites.

From the customer side, I see an interesting new market in the scientific and exploration missions from space agencies. With distributed sensor systems and miniaturised co-passengers, small satellites may have an impact on robotic exploration and science similar to the impact it had on remote sensing. Also, the advent of more commercial customers with business models that build on networks of small satellites offers a great opportunity.

 

What do you hope to achieve at the show next year, and what connections do you hope to make?

As a systems integrator and seller of spacecraft modules, we have two main objectives for the show next year. First, we hope to get in contact with potential new partners and suppliers for our cubesat components, modules and technologies that we can use in our small-satellite missions. Second, we hope to meet a lot of potential customers for our solutions and cubesat systems and services.


ISIS - Innovative Solutions In Space BV will be exhibiting at Space Tech Expo Europe 2019 on Stand 3020