Creating a vibrant ecosystem for aerospace
Join us for the first New Zealand Aerospace Summit on 21st February 2022. Be inspired by trailblazing innovators and renowned speakers showcasing aerospace in New Zealand. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to connect with more than 300 delegates, including aerospace entrepreneurs, investors, professionals, and government agencies.
About the event
Something For Everyone!
With a focus on creating a vibrant aerospace ecosystem in New Zealand, the Summit is designed to showcase New Zealand aerospace capabilities, inspire new innovation, and maximise networking opportunities.
One of the first events to be held at the world-class Te Pae Convention Centre, the Aerospace Summit will bring together industry-leading innovators, key aerospace figures, government agencies, researchers, investors, and more.
We will be joined by many outstanding speakers, including Astronaut Pamela Melroy (Deputy Administrator, NASA), Peter Beck (CEO, Rocket Lab) and Anna Kominik (Asia Pacific Region Director, Wisk), with panel discussions throughout the day on a range of aerospace topics.
United States Air Force / NASA Astronaut serving as the Deputy Administrator of NASA
Pam Melroy is an aerospace executive with government and industry experience across civil, commercial, and national security space. She is a retired Air Force test pilot and former NASA astronaut and Space Shuttle commander.
Colonel Melroy received a Bachelor’s degree in Physics and Astronomy from Wellesley College and a Master of Science degree in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
She flew the KC-10 for six years at Barksdale Air Force Base as an Air Force co-pilot, aircraft commander and instructor pilot. Colonel Melroy is a veteran of Operation Just Cause and Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, with more than 200 combat and combat support hours. After attending the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Colonel Melroy was assigned to the C-17 Combined Test Force, where she served as a test pilot until her selection for the Astronaut Program. She has logged more than 6,000 hours flight time in more than 50 different aircraft. Colonel Melroy was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in March 1995.
Founder and Chief Executive / Rocket Lab
Peter Beck is the Founder and Chief Executive of space systems company Rocket Lab, the world’s leading dedicated small satellite launch provider. Rocket Lab provides end-to-end mission services, including complete satellite build and launch solutions that provide rapid, frequent and reliable access to space. Rocket Lab has been launching since May 2017, delivering satellites to orbit for commercial and government customers, including DARPA, NASA, the United States Air Force, and more.
Since founding the business in 2006, Peter has grown Rocket Lab to become a globally recognised industry leader in space, and a billion-dollar company employing hundreds of world-class engineers.
In addition to creating Electron, the world’s first fully carbon-fibre, orbital launch vehicle, Peter also oversaw the development of the world’s first and only private orbital launch range, located on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula. He played a crucial role in establishing international treaties and legislation to enable orbital launch capability from New Zealand.
Under Peter’s guidance, Rocket Lab will launch thousands of small satellites to orbit, enabling vital science, research and services from orbit including weather monitoring, communications, technology demonstrations, and Earth-observation.
Genetically Modified Optimist
David has had a successful career in the private and public sector, with senior roles at organisations such as Microsoft and New Zealand Trade & Enterprise. David is a published author on New Zealand Innovation, with two highly successful books – No.8 Re-wired, and No.8 Recharged.
He’s an ex-comedian, TV and Radio actor, semi-finalist for New Zealander of the Year, and a genetically modified organism who documented his battle with cancer in his book A Mild Touch of the Cancer.
David co-founded SOS Business, a not-for-profit initiative to help cafes and other small businesses during COVID-19. It quickly became a huge hit and to date has sold over $2 million in vouchers for over 2,500 small businesses.
David released a new book, Silver Linings, in March 2021, and continues to act as a consultant for government and industry, as well as a director on a number of boards. David is now CEO of The New Zealand Story, an ambitious organisation marketing New Zealand to the world.
Asia Pacific Region Director / Wisk New Zealand
As the Asia Pacific Director of Wisk, Anna is working with Wisk’s multinational team to bring one of the world’s first self-flying, electric, VTOL air taxis to market.
Before joining Wisk, Anna held senior management roles in the public and private sectors across Australasia, and served as a consultant to boards, governments and businesses. Anna has worked in organisations at all stages of the business cycles, from startups to large corporates, including developing and implementing go-to-market strategies, regulatory engagement, brand building, engaging with community, and nurturing strategic relationships to create business and social outcomes that make a difference.
Anna is currently the independent Chair of the Electricity Retailers’ Association of New Zealand (ERANZ), and sits on the board of the New Zealand United States Business Council and the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts. Anna was a Commonwealth Foundation Emerging Pacific Leader, has a master’s degree from Northwestern University, Chicago, and was a Rotary International Scholar. She also currently serves on the Vertical Flight Society’s Board of Directors as the Director for the Asia-Pacific region.
Investment Manager / Pacific Channel
Dr. Ashwath Sundaresan, Ph.D., MBA (Investment Manager) leads Pacific Channel’s investments into cleantech/ advanced engineering opportunities and supports work in medical devices. Ashwath joined Pacific Channel in July 2021 and has over 10 years’ experience across technology and deep IP based business.
Immediately before to joining Pacific Channel, Ashwath spent three years as a Senior Commercialisation Manager at Wellington UniVentures (the commercialisation company of Victoria University of Wellington) focussing on developing academic entrepreneurs and university spinouts. Prior to that, Ashwath was a strategy and technology advisor with Accenture and Google with significant expertise in the healthcare and energy industry. A
shwath is passionate about early-stage deep technologies and businesses and is also a director of Vortex Power Systems (a Pacific Channel portfolio company). Ashwath holds a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and PhD in mechanical engineering from University of Canterbury and an MBA from INSEAD.
Dr. Avinash Rao
CEO / Argo Navis Aerospace
Avinash has been involved in the New Zealand space scene since 2009. He completed a B.E. Hons in Mechatronics at U.C. before going on to doctoral research in robust rocket attitude control systems between 2010 and 2014. From 2013, he began working on the Electron program at Rocket Lab as one of the earliest employees, going on to lead the GNC Team throughout the R&D phase, before moving to Director of Mission Delivery. In 2020, Avinash co-founded Argo Navis Aerospace with Dr. Malcolm Snowdon.
Argo Navis is redefining rocket propulsion with technology that performs beautifully, scales gracefully, and can be manufactured more cost-effectively and reliably than anything else on the market. Avinash also holds the role of Co-Founder and Principal of IDS Consulting, a boutique deep-tech and aerospace engineering consultancy.
Deputy Chief Executive, System and Regulatory Design
/ Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport
Bronwyn joined Te Manatū Waka, Ministry of Transport, to lead the System and Regulatory Design Group following leadership roles at WorkSafe NZ, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the previous Ministry of Economic Development.
Prior to joining the Ministry she led the Regulatory Effectiveness and Legal Groups at WorkSafe New Zealand, where she also had experience leading the policy, guidance and education functions. She has led significant pieces of regulatory reform and supported their effective implementation.
Bronwyn has a strong background in regulatory policy with a particular interest in regulatory stewardship and effective regulatory design.
CEO / Pyper Vision
Emily is the CEO and Founder of Pyper Vision, delivering the world’s first fog dispersal system to market. Her mission is to develop weather-controlled hubs, where visibility can be guaranteed to ensure the safe arrival of flights, on-time, every time. Before founding Pyper Vision, Emily was the inventor and CEO of Flatpak and Researcher for Holmes Solutions.
Emily comes from a long line of aviators, most notably is her great-great-grandfather, who contributed to one of the world’s first Commercial Flights in 1911 London. Emily herself has been flying since 12 years old, is an active inventor, and serial entrepreneur. Through all her work, Emily shows a strong commitment to lifting the standards for our environmental sustainability, working towards a mission to leave our world in a better place than we found it.
Emily is currently a Future Director on the board of Spidertracks, Committee Member at the National
Aerospace Executive Committee and was nominated as a Semi-Finalist for the New Zealand Innovator of the Year.
CEO / Outset Ventures
CFO / Dawn Aerospace
James Powell is passionate about building systems and epic machines. As the General Manager of Dawn Aerospace, James looks after finance and manages spaceplane certification. Prior to Dawn, James spent ten years in aircraft design, manufacture and certification for a range of global customers, and quickly became one of the youngest Delegates of the Director of Civil Aviation, an authority he still holds.
James also spent time building an investment portfolio to allow focus on growing Dawn, rather than year to year income. James’ engineering career began with Lego and garage-based projects, before studying Mechanical Engineering at The University of Canterbury. Outside of work, James spends his time with family, snowboarding, and travelling.
Senior Associate, Systems Engineering / Beca
Jess is a senior associate in systems engineering at Beca Applied Technologies. She specialises in systems engineering and systems assurance for high-integrity, safety-critical and mission-critical applications across aerospace and other sectors.
Jess’ career in aerospace started over 20 years ago in the US in a role with an R&D company providing mission assurance support to the US government space missions. In her current role at Beca Applied Technologies, Jess helps organisations to understand and define their most critical problems, and to develop and deploy robust solutions to meet them.
Jess holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from University of California at Santa Barbara, and a Master of Science in Physics from California State University Long Beach.
Investment Manager / WNT Ventures
In his role as Investment Manager with early-stage, deep tech, VC WNT Ventures, Jon Sandbrook leads investments into new technology companies across New Zealand. Jon has a background in investment, corporate strategy, M&A, and consulting across a range of sectors, and a career spanning New Zealand and the US.
He also co-founded and built a successful animal health vaccine and diagnostic biotechnology company. Jon has a passion for innovation and start-ups with global potential, as well as an interest in social ventures and purpose-driven projects.
Kate de Ridder
Program Manager – Bridgewest Ventures
Kate de Ridder, (BE(Hons) Elec Eng, PGDipBus, AdvDip Aeronautics, MSc Aerospace Vehicle Design), is responsible for pipeline management at Bridgewest Ventures NZ LP, a Deep Tech Incubator in partnership with Callaghan Innovation. Her key goal is to take science out of the labs and into global markets, creating highly skilled New Zealand-based jobs and a more resilient New Zealand economy.
Prior to working for BVNZ, Kate spent 17 years’ serving in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, where she had a varied engineering career, from managing the maintenance of aircraft flying Antarctic resupply missions, to leading a team of engineers developing the airborne mission system for surveillance and reconnaissance.
Junior Software Engineer / Rocket Lab
Lara Collier is a junior software engineer at Rocket Lab. She is a 2021 Space Ambassador for the company, meaning Lara visits schools to encourage interest into STEM careers. Lara has a degree in engineering and psychology, and is am a key establishing member of New Zealand’s first formal Women in Space Aotearoa network.
Linda Falwasser (Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Awa)
Project Leader – Project Tāwhaki / A unique partnership for Kaitōrete
Linda is the leader of an incredibly exciting project that is set to develop regenerative economic and environmental opportunities on Kaitōrete, for Aotearoa. This is an innovative and unique commercial joint venture partnership between the Crown and Kaitōrete Limited (representing Te Taumutu Rūnanga and Wairewa Rūnanga). The two main directives of the project are to: protect and rejuvenate the Kaitōrete environment; and develop aerospace activities and R&D facilities.
Through a hugely diverse career, Linda has held senior management and contractor roles spanning public, private and Iwi organisations. She has also served as a strategic advisor to several boards and chief executives.
The diversity of Linda’s experience is evidence of the innovation and adaptability that she brings to everything she does. Linda has a values-led approach, an entrepreneurial spirit, a real knack for building enduring partnerships, and getting things done!
Kea Aerospace / CEO
Mark Rocket was the seed investor and Co-Director of Rocket Lab from 2007 to 2011. Rocket Lab went from startup phase to New Zealand’s first space launch, going on to win contracts with international aerospace agencies. This established an entirely new space industry in New Zealand.
Mark has also been operating internet and data companies for over 22 years, and was a Founder of New Zealand Tourism Online, which became New Zealand’s leading commercial tourism directory, before being sold to Telecom Yellowpages in 2006.
Kea Aerospace / CTO
Philipp’s passion is to explore and stretch the boundaries of unmanned aircraft systems, which perfectly fits Kea Aerospace’s mission of becoming a world leader in stratospheric flight operations.
Researcher and Lecturer / University of Auckland
Dr Priyanka Dhopade is a lecturer in thermofluids at the University of Auckland and a founding member of the Women in Space Aotearoa New Zealand network (WISANZ). Her research expertise is in aerospace thermodynamics and fluid mechanics.
Priyanka’s current research focuses on sustainable engineering across space, environmental engineering and te ao Māori: quantifying the environmental impact of space infrastructure; thermal measurement techniques for atmospheric re-entry to enable rocket re-usability; working with iwi and hapū on renewable energy options for Māori housing; and understanding systemic barriers to recruitment, promotion and retention of minorities in engineering
Previously, she held a senior research position at the University of Oxford from 2013-2020, where she developed computational models for cooling systems in modern jet engines, in collaboration with industry and academia, to reduce the environmental impact of aviation.
Merlin Labs NZ Limited / CEO
CEO of Merlin Labs NZ Limited, Shaun is a senior aerospace professional, who has held a number of technical and leadership roles across the New Zealand Defence and civil aviation sectors over the past 32 years.
Shaun served as an Engineering Officer with the Royal New Zealand Air Force for 27 years. During this time he filled numerous technical and programme engineering and leadership roles, including secondment to the Ministry of Defence in support of major capital acquisition projects.
After retirement from the RNZAF, Shaun led the aircraft, product and organisational certification teams at the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand.
In 2005, Shaun was appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and current President of the New Zealand branch.
CEO & CTO / Dawn Aerospace
Stefan Powell has been building rockets since his early student years, and has spent his entire career in both rocket and satellite start-ups that push the envelope, including being on the Rocket Lab team testing the first firings of the electron rocket.
CTO of Dawn Aerospace, Stefan now heads various technical teams building reusable launch vehicles and new space transportation technologies. A Kiwi at heart, with a dash of Dutch eccentricity, Stefan is currently spending his spare time exploring all ways his green thrusters can be used to cook the company’s weekly BBQ, or dance the dance to classic music.
Moonshot / Founder
Troy is the founder of Moonshot, a company growing technology businesses that leverage and integrate frontier locations into our world, ranging from physical spaces to cyberspace. Moonshot focuses on developing opportunities presented by space through broadening understanding, and cultivating investment and research in space technology through incubators, accelerators and investment funds.
With over 13 years’ experience in technology and entrepreneurship spanning multiple diverse businesses and industries, Troy has developed a framework for supporting the growth of commercial solutions to humanity’s most difficult challenges. Moonshot’s model represents the world’s first international network of prestigious partners and industry pioneers, including the Aldrin Space Institute and Axiom Space, the company behind the world’s first commercial space station. Troy was ranked the 13th most influential global new space business leader of the sector in the NewSpace People Global Ranking Report for 2020.
With a practical and approachable interpretation of what constitutes space, Troy is able to translate the intangible into very real opportunities that have clear commercial application across industries, from health to telecommunications and business functions, such as supply chain. Satellite imagery, zero gravity manufacturing, robotics, drones and Artificial Intelligence are all technologies that are innovating and maturing with application in the space industry. JigSpace, a company involved in Moonshot’s accelerator program, was showcased by Apple in the recent launch of the iPhone 12, to demonstrate the capability of technology convergence in spatial computing for more accurate and immersive Augmented Reality.
Acknowledged for his differentiated expertise, Troy is sought after globally as a speaker and advisor by organizations and Government on the space industry and the emerging technologies that are enabling commercial optimization for both countries and businesses.
Troy has an extensive background in computer science and holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronic engineering from The University of Melbourne. He was invited to participate as an Engineer in Residence at The University of Melbourne, coordinating a practical, final semester Master of Engineering course and sharing industry experience with over 100 students to ensure industry readiness for Melbourne School of Engineering graduates.