Sinead O Sullivan

Fusion Space Technologies – Chief Executive Officer

Sinead is an aerospace engineer and an Entrepreneurship Fellow at the Harvard Business School, with previous experience at NASA, the European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency.

She is currently CEO of Fusion Space Technologies, where she leads a team of engineers to integrate data from satellites and drones. By combining space technology with Artificial Intelligence, her company is challenging the status quo of humanitarian disaster relief.

Sinead was appointed both a Sainsbury Management Fellow by the Royal Academy of Engineering and an Emerging Space Leader by the International Astronautical Federation in 2016. She also currently co-leads the Space Generation Advisory Council’s international research group “Space Technologies for Disaster Management” as well as advising the US Center for Climate and Security on satellite technologies that can mitigate against climate change risks.

Sinead believes that the Young Innovator Awards is an excellent way to promote creativity and entrepreneurship at an early stage. She is particularly interested in promoting programs in New Zealand as she sees it as a country that is far ahead in terms of innovation, and that the young people of New Zealand have the culture and passion to drive forward future-thinking projects.
Sinead has many personal connections to New Zealand through the space industry and friends she has met, and believes it is important to support the program based on how much New Zealand contributes to global technology innovation.

We spoke to Sinead about innovation and YiA and why she wants to get involved in this year’s awards. Take it away Sinead…

Q: Why did you want get involved with YiA?

A: I think that the Young Innovator Awards is an excellent way to promote creativity and entrepreneurship at an early stage. I am particularly interested in promoting programs in New Zealand as I see it as a country that is far ahead in terms of innovation, and I believe that the young people of New Zealand have the culture and passion to drive forward future-thinking projects.

I have many personal connections to New Zealand through the space industry and friends that I have met, and I would love to support this program as I know how much New Zealand contributes to global technology innovation, and I fully believe that this will increase over the next few years. Apart from that, I support many STEM programs across Europe and the US because I always learn something new and exciting from working with school students!

Q: What’s your favourite innovation of all time?

A: My favourite innovation is something that plays a large role in our lives, all day every day- the internet. It has facilitated an entire ecosystem of technologies that have improved the lives of people all over the world; it provides education, communication and knowledge sharing. Almost every aspect of business or social relations today is touched by the internet and the subsequent industries that the platform has created on an international scale.

Q: What’s the piece of work you’re most proud of?

A: A couple of years ago, I was the Project Manager for a space mission design in conjunction with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. As a team, we did a rapid design of a mission that would capture an asteroid that would do a close fly-by of Earth, and put the asteroid into orbit around the moon (Cis-Lunar Retrograde Orbit). With the asteroid captured, a secondary mission to send human astronauts to the asteroid to mine it for material and return the samples to Earth would be performed. Asteroid mining is becoming an important project in the Space community, and being a part of this large mission was a lot of fun!

Q: What’s the most expensive innovation you’ve ever splashed out on?

A: I think this probably has to be the series of Apple products that I own. Apple have created some fantastic, easy to use and very innovative products, and I own so many of them because they integrate so easily with each other, my office and my home. It makes working on the go easier and switching between devices seamless! I have also dual-booted my products so that I can use Linux and Windows operating systems on them.

Q: What’s your one piece of advice to our entrants?

A: I’m going to sneakily give two pieces of advice! Firstly- make sure that your innovation solves a problem that affects people; make sure it’s relevant. Secondly, work on a piece of innovation that really inspires you. Taking an innovation from idea to reality is a lot of hard work- doing it for something that you are passionate about makes it a lot easier and fun!