CEBIT 2019 unveils first keynote speaker

Friday, 22 February, 2019

CEBIT 2019 unveils first keynote speaker

The first keynote speaker for CEBIT Australia 2019 has just been announced.

Virgin Galactic’s Stephen Attenborough will be one of eight keynote speakers at the event, to be held in Sydney from 29–31 October.

Attenborough leads commercial activities for Virgin Galactic, part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, which is on track to become the world’s first passenger-carrying commercial space line providing suborbital spaceflights to space tourists and suborbital launches for space science missions.

Having joined Virgin Galactic following a career in investment management in London, Attenborough now speaks regularly around the world about the importance of opening access to space for the benefit of life on Earth.

CEBIT Australia Chairperson and former Facebook CEO ANZ Stephen Scheeler said Attenborough’s keynote speech will be one of the highlights of CEBIT Australia this year.

“We’re thrilled to have Stephen as this year’s keynote speaker,” Scheeler said.

“The story of how Virgin Galactic has created a new market for space exploration in the digital age is an extraordinary one.

“Stephen will be sharing the latest news from California, where the Virgin Galactic spacecraft is going through its final testing phase. He’ll also explain the impact new technologies have on businesses and focus on how to drive business innovation and growth through the right combination of innovative people and technology.”

NSW Minister for Trade and Industry Niall Blair said given the space industry is an exciting and fast-growing tech sector, the engagement of such a learned speaker from Virgin Galactic as part of the CEBIT line-up should attract significant interest.

“Most of Australia’s space industry is based in NSW and the NSW Government is exploring development of a Space Industry Hub for space companies, research and education institutions in Sydney that can grow companies for later relocation to the Western Sydney Aerotropolis,” Blair said.

“The revamped CEBIT Australia will again be held in Australia’s tech and start-up capital of Sydney and the government is backing it, given its prominence as Asia Pacific’s leading business-to-business innovation and technology event.”

Attenborough was invited by Branson to join Virgin Galactic as the company’s first full-time employee in 2004 to put in place the commercial foundations of the business and to create a new market for private space travel. He now leads the company’s commercial activities, including partnerships for the human spaceflight business.

This work has now attracted around 700 future astronauts from 60 countries, along with $80 million in deposits. Attenborough has also been responsible for workstreams investigating, and now building, the non-tourism applications for the new space vehicles, particularly science research and small satellite launch.

Image credit: © Kermann

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