Top telecom executive joins UNIO as new CEO to build Europe’s first commercial satellite constellation for mobility industry
Katrin Bacic – Top manager of the world’S largest corporate accelerator Telefónica Wayra – becomes new CEO of UNIO
As joint venture of Isar Aerospace, Reflex Aerospace, Mynaric and SES, UNIO builds satellite constellations for high performance and secure connectivity.
Focus areas: Automotive and mobility industry as well as B2B and B2G communications.
Munich, March 1, 2023 – Katrin Bacic becomes new CEO of the European space start-up UNIO. Most recently, Bacic was Managing Director and Chief Strategy Officer at Wayra Germany, the innovation and investment unit of telecommunications group Telefónica. She succeeds Christian Lindener, who had led UNIO as interim CEO since its founding and will now focus on developing the European business of US venture builder Mach49 as its partner. UNIO’s goal is to build and operate Europe’s first commercial constellation of communications satellites with a dedicated focus on enabling new services and products in the automotive and broader mobility sector.
“From the ivory tower into everyday life: space is shaping all areas of life. Top position in the `space race´ requests agility, diversity and cross-industry vision. Katrin Bacic combines all of these.”
Bulent Altan (UNIO Chairman)
Upon taking office, UNIO CEO Katrin Bacic emphasized the company’s mission: “Communication fuels business, science and society. Particularly the last few years have clearly shown us: The demand for secure and high-performance connectivity is growing exponentially.
Ground-based infrastructures alone can no longer meet these demands. A competitive and sovereign Europe therefore needs an independent communications infrastructure in space.”
With regard to UNIO’s partners and concrete plans, she added: “Satellite communications is one of the most exciting but also most dynamic technology stories of our time. I am therefore very excited and proud to tackle this challenge with the strong UNIO team, which brings together the most innovative players in space under one roof. Together, we will launch a first demo mission into space in 2025. Our goal is to start building the final infrastructure in 2026 in order to offer the first commercial services as early as the following year. That’s record speed.”
UNIO Chairman Bulent Altan welcomed Katrin Bacic to UNIO and added: “Particularly in Europe, space is still often an industry in the ivory tower. Yet applications in space are already fundamentally shaping our everyday lives on earth – across all areas of business and life.
To be at the forefront of the new global ‘space race’ and unleash our full innovative power, we need agility, diversity and the courage to embrace a cross-industry vision. These are precisely the qualities that Katrin Bacic brings to the table: As the previous Managing Director at Wayra, she combines deep scaling expertise with a broad tech network in the international start-up scene. With nearly 20 years of experience at Telefónica, she enriches the space industry with the innovation speed and know-how from telecommunications, digitalization and AI. And with her strong commitment to diversity, Katrin Bacic brings a breath of fresh air to our industry that we so desperately need to overcome old structures, accelerate our processes and attract the best talent.”
Turning to UNIO’s outgoing interim CEO, Bulent Altan added: “We expressly thank Christian Lindener for his great commitment and engagement. By setting up the company structures last year, he created a first-class launch pad for UNIO, on the basis of which we are now taking off.”
“A sovereign Europe needs its own satellite constellation. UNIO unites most innovative space players. Targets at record pace: demo mission in 2025, infrastructure deployment in 2026, commercial services in 2027.”
Katrin Bacic (UNIO CEO)
Prior to joining UNIO, Katrin Bacic was Managing Director and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) of Wayra Germany from 2018 to 2023, where she led all of the company’s start-up programs. Under her leadership, the company increased the proportion of women-led start-ups in its portfolio to one third. As the innovation and investment unit of telecommunications group Telefónica, Wayra is the world’s largest corporate accelerator. Previously, Katrin Bacic held various management positions at Telefónica for over 13 years, primarily in the areas of business development and innovation. In addition to Germany, she has also lived and worked in Spain and Hong Kong.
UNIO is a `new space´ system house founded in Munich in 2022. As a joint venture of Isar Aerospace (the manufacturer of Europe’s most versatile launch vehicle for small payloads), Reflex Aerospace (Europe’s first venture capital-funded satellite manufacturer), Mynaric
(the global pioneer in scaling laser communications) and SES (the world’s leading satellite operator and content connectivity service provider), UNIO is currently the only company to combine the expertise of leading players from all core areas crucial to satellite communications.
UNIO’s goal is to build Europe’s first sovereign, commercial satellite constellation for high-speed, high-performance and high-secure connectivity with a main focus on enabling new products and services in the mobility industry. In the European automotive sector alone, the market volume of satellite communications is estimated at around 14 billion euros by 2030. Other areas of application could include direct communication between companies (B2B) or between companies and public administrations (B2G).
In view of the role of space as a key technology for almost all core industries, estimates predict that the global space market will triple to around one trillion euros by 2040. Broadband connectivity via satellites is expected to account for just under half of this growth. Unlike
other regions of the world, Europe does not currently have a large independent network of communications satellites.
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