OA 2024 Issue 05


Gidon joined DUCKS in 2002 and remained at the College until 2015, when he took up a scholarship to study Mandarin for a year at the Tsinghua University, Beijing. On his return he went to LSE to study Economics and Politics, and Imperial College Business School to study Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Management. He now works as a Project Manager at BryceTech. GIDON GAUTEL

Bryce Tech is an analytics and engineering consultancy that partners with science and technology clients both in the private and governmental sectors. One of their specialities is working in the space sector. They provide insight and expertise on the space economy. BryceTech provide official launch industry data to the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation; assess technology investments for NASA; deliver industry analyses and acquisition support for the Department of Defense; and provide market, investment, strategic and technology analyses for leading aerospace organisations worldwide. The company’s resources promote the technological and economic growth of the industry, informing the decisions of satellite operators, launch vehicle manufacturers, and government agencies.

it more, both from a theoretical and a practical perspective, so that’s really what drove me to study for a Master’s. It was a brilliant opportunity because it covered such a wide range of subjects, including technology management and venture capital, and a whole host of transferable skills that I still use today. So what was it that directed you away from becoming an entrepreneur and setting up your own company at the end of that year? One thing that became very obvious on the course was that it is best to start a business in order to solve a problem you are truly passionate about, and not to become an entrepreneur just for the sake of it. Also, the average successful start-up founder is usually around 40 and not a 20-something entrepreneur. Of course, there are those that are much younger, but it takes a lot of experience within a particular industry, especially in the highly technical areas in which I am interested, before you're in a position to understand it deeply enough to identify the problems around which to innovate and build a business. So having thought long and hard about what to do, I decided not to start a company straightaway. It is definitely something that I would be open to in the future, maybe once I have more experience, but only if there is a problem that I am deeply invested in, and that I’d be in a particularly good position to solve. How did you find your way to working in the space industry? I had always been interested in space, including throughout my time at school. While I was at the LSE, however, I started to see the concrete roles and opportunities for me personally. I became aware of the incredible innovation happening in the space industry, and really started to get actively engaged. I co- founded an ‘Innovation in Space Society’ at LSE for students who were interested in commercial space and was lucky enough to do an internship at my current company, BryceTech, having invited the CEO to come and speak to the society. What was it about you that Bryce saw as your potential? I don’t think it was any one thing in particular. My time at LSE had taught me how to approach problems analytically, which is crucial in consultancy. Also, right from College, through my career at LSE, and especially through working at the think tank LSE IDEAS, I have enjoyed analytical writing. I like to think that I have got pretty good at it, particularly at explaining complex issues in a

You studied Chinese to AS level and then took up an opportunity to go to a Chinese university before returning to attend LSE. Could you tell us about that? I had two very supportive Mandarin teachers at school and they encouraged me to apply for a Confucius Institutes Scholarship to study in China, allowing me to go to the Tsinghua University for a year before heading to LSE. Although my degree at LSE was in government and economics, I continued learning Mandarin, taking classes wherever I could to keep the language alive. I did an internship in Hong Kong during my first summer, and then the year after I did a data science course in Beijing. So throughout university, I tried to maintain my Mandarin. I also read a lot of Mandarin as a Project Coordinator at LSE IDEAS, which is the university’s foreign policy think tank, for whom I still write strategic policy pieces on China’s space industry and its international relations. My long-term goal is still to continue to speak it fluently. Many people would struggle to study for a degree and learn a language at the same time. Did you find it difficult? It certainly requires time, but it helped that the language was complementary to my work. During my internship in Hong Kong I read announcements about business regulation across China, and then as the Coordinator for the China Foresight project at LSE IDEAS, I read Chinese language news articles and policy announcements. The broader importance of knowing the language also keeps me motivated. In today’s changing world it’s critical that the aims and thinking of states are well understood. Getting your information from primary language sources, rather than abstracted interpretations, is the best way to do that. Your degree finished at LSE in 2019 and you then went on to do an MSc at Imperial College Business School. What made you decide to do this? LSE had given me a great background in economics and politics, but I was keen to explore how that theoretical knowledge could be put to practical use in running a business, which is why I chose to do a course in innovation, entrepreneurship and management at Imperial. I had written a piece in my final year at LSE on innovation in the unmanned aerial systems industry in China (put simply, why does China build such good drones?), and I was extremely interested in how businesses innovate, and how innovation ecosystems are built up. I wanted to understand

clear and straightforward way. This is crucial in a rapidly changing technological context such as we often have in the space industry. I think it also helped that I am a bit of a space geek. I love hard sci-fi. All of my favourite books and movies tend to be in that genre. I’m also really passionate about the industry and seeing it progress. I am pretty sure I would not have got the role at Bryce if I had not shown that I was personally invested in driving the industry forward. Can you give us an example of a project you have been involved in? One really great project was the UK Nanosat design competition. It was an initiative by LaunchUK, which is a joint effort by the UK Space Agency and the Department for Transport. The competition encouraged young people (16+) to design a nanosatellite (weighing less than 10 kg) that could be used to inform innovative solutions to support the UK’s climate change or decarbonisation efforts. There was a prize of £600k available to the winner to enable them to develop and manufacture their satellite and to subsequently launch it from a UK spaceport. The project really caught young people’s imagination and we received over 40 applications, which were all immensely impressive, and while a lot of them were from university students, we also received some really good entries from Sixth Form students. In fact, a two-person Sixth Form team made the final. The competition was structured around the lifecycle of a space mission, and I found it fascinating to go through each stage of the mission process, working with both the mentors of the competition and with the teams themselves. We have continued to work with the winners, as well as the UK Space Agency and other partners, to build the satellite and launch it on a rocket from the UK.

I gather you were the co-chair of the Lunar Commerce and Economics Working Group of the Moon Village Association. Can you tell us about this? I was lucky to work with a group of very talented and passionate people on a report that looked at the potential pathways of commercial development in cislunar space, which is the space around the Moon and the space in between the Moon and the Earth. In 2022 we published a report called the Lunar Commerce Portfolio, which is essentially an assessment of the market sectors depicting the range of possible lunar commercial futures. We looked at the viability of nine markets in total, including transport to and from the Moon, energy and power, construction and manufacture, and habitat and storage. It was an extraordinarily fascinating project: we were not just learning about all of the different activities and initiatives that have been proposed but were also trying to put figures on activities that are literally not of this world. The plan is to update the publication every time new data becomes available, which is a really exciting initiative to be part of. It is also extremely timely. We are living in a renaissance of lunar exploration that is very different from the Apollo era. This time, far more nations are engaged in the effort, and the focus is on building a sustainable presence, enabled by commercial industry. You have just started with the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. What's your motivation behind that? I love analysing the space industry and I found myself wanting to play a hands-on role. I saw that the Royal Auxiliary Air Force had positions available for Air and Space Operations, and this was around the same time in 2021 that the UK Space Command had been formed. I am currently completing Operations training and hope to work on space operations and policy.

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