4 minority companies tapped to tackle aerospace-related challenges through new innovation accelerator

FILE - In this image taken from NASA video NASA astronaut Jessica Meir works to finish upgrading the International Space Station's power grid, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. NASA is in the midst of replacing decades-old nickel-hydrogen batteries outside the sprawling space station with more powerful, longer-lasting lithium-ion batteries. The batteries are part of the station's solar power network, keeping everything running when the outpost is on the night side of Earth. It was the second pairing of Meir and Christina Koch outside the orbiting lab. (NASA via AP)
FILE - In this image taken from NASA video NASA astronaut Jessica Meir works to finish upgrading the International Space Station's power grid, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. NASA is in the midst of replacing decades-old nickel-hydrogen batteries outside the sprawling space station with more powerful, longer-lasting lithium-ion batteries. The batteries are part of the station's solar power network, keeping everything running when the outpost is on the night side of Earth. It was the second pairing of Meir and Christina Koch outside the orbiting lab. (NASA via AP) (NASA)

HOUSTON – Four minority companies were selected to develop solutions to tackle aerospace-related challenges, in partnership with NASA, DivInc and Houston’s new innovation hub The Ion.

The Ion announced Wednesday the launch of the Aerospace Innovation Accelerator for Minority Business Enterprises or the AIA for MBEs. Through the 12-week program, the companies will develop innovations, grow their businesses and strengthen relationships with a broad range of individual mentors, corporate partners, and stakeholder networks.

According to the press release, those companies are Axialnics Systems Inc., Boozed Beverages LLC, NANCo Aero, and Stratos Perception LLC, which are owned by Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC).

Officials said the startups will tackle aerospace-related challenges, ranging from an aircraft that mitigates airport congestion to a contactless cocktail vending machine to an AI solution that monitors the multiphase flow.

“The Aerospace Innovation Hub came from the idea that the aerospace industry is well-known in Houston but for many people, particularly underrepresented communities, there have been barriers in entering the aerospace industry,” said Dr. Jan E. Odegard, Executive Director of The Ion. “By offering mentorship, introduction to capital and training opportunities, with significant backing from Microsoft, The Ion is working to remove the barriers.”

The AIA for MBEs is part of The Ion’s Aerospace Innovation Hub, which focuses on aerospace innovation through networking, outreach events, education and training. The Hub is supported by NASA’s Johnson Space Center, and strategic partner DivInc, which transforms the existing tech entrepreneur ecosystem into a more authentically inclusive environment, per the release.

The accelerator’s programming is made possible by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, per the release.

“Aerospace contains a myriad of dimensions and by demystifying the industry in the form of the AIA for MBEs, we are able to build a more inclusive innovation ecosystem,” said Dr. Christine Galib, Senior Director of Programs at The Ion. “It’s our goal to not only support participants to be successful, but to open the playing field for other minority business enterprises hoping to enter the space.”


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