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Microsoft becomes Australian space hub's first 'Constellation Partner'

As part of the agreement, the tech giant will provide hub members with Microsoft Azure Space engineers as they build products for commercial use

Microsoft has been selected as the first “Constellation Partner” at the National Space Industry Hub (NSIH) in Australia.

NSIH launched in February 2022 and is delivered by Cicada Innovations, a Sydney-based incubator that develops deep tech ventures, with seed funding from the New South Wales government. Its goal is to support the growth of a connected, capable and collaborative space sector that's independent, industry-led and supported to thrive by providing a physical space, resources, mentoring, and connections for emerging space ventures and researchers in Australia.

The tech giant is set to be the exclusive Constellation Partner in the cloud technology category. It’s set to invest its time, capabilities, and capital in the innovators, entrepreneurs, and researchers who form the NSIH community.

The partnership is set to enhance the NSIH’s commercialisation programmes, including through events and workshops, free technology credits for participants, and mentoring. NSIH members will also be supported by Microsoft technology advisors and Microsoft Azure Space engineers as they build products for commercial use.

Lynn McDonald, Azure space lead at Microsoft Australia, said the partnership reflects Microsoft's approach to making space accessible and affordable. It will integrate the Azure cloud platform with an ecosystem of space partners to develop a “multi-orbit, multi-band, multi-vendor, cloud-enabled capability".

"We are very excited about the calibre of early-stage space tech innovations being built and commercialised,” said McDonald. “This partnership will help catalyse further industry engagement and investment into building the Australian space industry."

Strengthening ties between space innovators and industry will be critical for building a local space industry that is globally competitive, according to Sally-Ann Williams, CEO of Cicada Innovations.

"To be globally competitive in the space industry, Australian organisations need to work collaboratively in the pursuit of a thriving ecosystem,” added Williams. “Initiatives like the National Space Industry Hub, with the support of industry partners like Microsoft, are critical to this.”

This isn’t the only way Microsoft has got involved with the space industry in Australia. It also launched the Microsoft for Space Startups Australia programme in August 2021 to support emerging enterprises focused on cloud-powered innovation on and off the planet. Additionally, it partnered with Nokia and the Government of South Australia in September 2021 to innovate with space technology and 5G communications.

The tech giant also has a memorandum of understanding with the Australian Institute for Machine Learning, signed in September 2021, to jointly explore how advanced cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), computer vision and machine learning can be applied in space. Lastly, it’s also working with CSIRO, the Australian government agency responsible for scientific research, on an initiative to use AI, space technology, and cloud capabilities to track feral buffalo.

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