The company created in Mont-Saint-Guibert in 2018 by Benoît Deper has been crowned "Scale-up of the Year" 2022 by EY for its unusual and ambitious project.
EY has been organising the "Company of the Year" awards since 1996 to reward French-speaking Belgian companies that stand out for their entrepreneurial spirit and innovation, as well as for their sense of strategy and competition, their openness to the world and their exemplary management.
This is additional recognition for Aerospacelab, which had already received the "Wallonia Rising Star Award”, rewarding a relatively young company with dazzling international growth, during the Wallonia International Business Awards organised by the Walloon Export-Investment Agency (Awex).
Aerospacelab, the new rising star of the Walloon digital and technological economy, designs, manufactures and operates earth observation satellites either on its own behalf or for its clients (public and private).
This "new space" rising-star also develops software tools to process and interpret millions of pieces of data collected by satellites. What is commonly known as satellite intelligence is essential for understanding environmental protection, agriculture, site protection, surveillance, security and defence.
"Aerospacelab is an unusual project in the French-speaking economic landscape. It is an ambitious project that aims not only to develop and commercialise new generation satellites but also to commercialise data and information," underlines Pierre De Muelenaere, Acting President of the jury, EY" Company of the Year" awards.
Aerospacelab opened its mega-factory in Charleroi in June 2022. The site will be operational in 2025 and will have an annual production capacity of 500 satellites. It will be the largest satellite manufacturing plant in Europe and the third largest in the world, at no less than 16,000 square metres, including 6,000 square metres dedicated to a clean room and 3,000 square metres of laboratory space.
Aerospacelab was inspired by the automotive industry, where standardised products can be adapted to specific customer needs. For this reason, the company sets up satellite manufacturing plants with production lines that use ready-to-use components.
"The company has opted for vertical integration and is the only company in Europe to cover the entire value chain, from the construction of the satellite for remote sensing to data analysis for the customer," according to Benoît Deper, Founder of Aerospacelab
Propelled by a 40 million euro fundraising round a few months ago, Aerospacelab did not wait for the start of the Charleroi construction site to begin producing satellites. A first 2000 m2 factory, including a satellite production line, has been set up in Louvain-La-Neuve, with a capacity of 24 satellites per year and employing 140 people.
Aerospacelab has received financial support from the Walloon Region via the Regional Investment Company of Wallonia (SRIW) and from Sambrinvest for the real estate component. The start-up believes that operating in a reasonably sized region such as Wallonia allows companies to move fast. It is easy to access decision-makers and move the project forward.
Although Belgium is a small country, it is important in the space sector, as the fifth largest contributor to the ESA (European Space Agency) budget. Supported by a dynamic and involved aeronautics and space cluster, Wallonia is also full of internationally renowned companies in the space industry, located throughout the territory from Liège to Redu and Charleroi.
Aerospacelab showcases Wallonia in the Space industry and, together with the other innovative companies in the sector present in the region, positions Wallonia at the forefront of technological innovation.