Katrin Bacic to become CEO of UNIO Enterprise

For five years, Bacic led the innovation and investment unit of telecommunications company Telefónica. Now she will bring a much-needed breath of fresh air to an industry that, according to Bulent Altan, is still in an ivory tower in Europe. She takes over from interim CEO Christian Lindener, who is now a partner at US venture capital firm Mach49, where he will build up the company's European business.

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Katrin Bacic is to become the new CEO of European space startup UNIO. Bacic was most recently managing director and head of strategy at Wayra Germany, the innovation and investment unit of telecommunications group Telefónica. She succeeds Christian Lindener, who has led UNIO as interim CEO since its inception and will now focus on building 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. A particular focus is on new applications for the automotive industry and the broader mobility sector.

Upon taking office, UNIO CEO Katrin Bacic reiterated the company's mission: "Communication is a pulse generator for the economy, science and society. The last few years have clearly shown this: The demand for secure and high-performance connectivity is growing exponentially. Terrestrial infrastructures alone can no longer meet these demands. A competitive and sovereign Europe therefore needs an independent communications infrastructure in space.

"That's record speed"

Commenting on UNIO's partners and concrete plans, she added: "Satellite communications is one of the most exciting and dynamic technology stories of our time. I am very excited to take on 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 demonstration mission into space in 2025. Our goal is to have the final infrastructure in place by 2026 and to offer the first commercial services the following year. That's record speed."

UNIO President Bulent Altan welcomed Katrin Bacic to UNIO and added: "Especially in Europe, space is still an ivory tower industry. Yet space applications are already having a fundamental impact on our daily lives on Earth - in 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 exactly the qualities that Katrin Bacic brings to the table: As the former Managing Director of Wayra, she combines deep scaling expertise with a broad technology network in the international startup scene. With nearly 20 years of experience at Telefónica, she brings the speed of innovation and know-how of telecommunications, digitalization and AI to the space. And with her strong commitment to diversity, Katrin Bacic brings a breath of fresh air to our industry that we so desperately need to break down old structures, turbo-charge and attract the best talent."

Commenting on UNIO's outgoing interim CEO, Bulent Altan added: "We would like to expressly thank Christian Lindener for his great commitment. By setting up the corporate structures last year, he created a first-class launch pad for UNIO, on the basis of which we are now taking off".

From Telefónica to spaceflight

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 startup programs. Under her leadership, the company increased the proportion of women-led startups in its portfolio to one third. As the innovation and investment arm of telecommunications group Telefónica, Wayra is the world's largest corporate accelerator. Prior to joining Wayra, Katrin Bacic spent more than 13 years at Telefónica in various management positions, primarily in the areas of business development and innovation. In addition to Germany, she has lived and worked in Spain and Hong Kong.

Header Image Credit: UNIO Enterprise
Written by M. Weissflog
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