By Chuck Black
Commercial space activities are often a collaboration between academics, business and government organizations. With that in mind, here's a preliminary list of government agencies you need to know if you plan on building a Canadian based space company.
The Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) - Established in 1946, the CCC is a federal Crown corporation mandated to promote and facilitate international trade on behalf of Canadian industry (particularly within government markets).
This is quite useful since Canadian space firms, typically sell half or more of its products on the international market.
The CCC's two business lines are structured to support Canadian companies contracting into the defense sector (primarily in the United States) and into emerging and developing international markets.Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) - Set up by the Federal government in 1997 to build Canada’s capacity to undertake world-class research and technology development.
CFI funds a variety of state-of-the-art equipment, laboratories, databases, specimens, scientific collections, computer facilities and organizations which support innovative research.Canadian Government Concierge Service - Tired of all the research which goes into accessing the appropriate government program?
The mandate of this government organization is to help users find and access programs and services in all those other government departments, which are evidently considered to be less effective at answering the phone and replying to the e-mails of those looking to learn more.The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) – The federal government agency responsible for Canada’s civilian space program.
The CSA was established in March 1989 under the Canadian Space Agency Act and works with the Department of National Defense (DND) on military space focused activities and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) on activities related to international cooperation and technology transfer.
As per the 2012 Federal Review of Aerospace and Space Programs and Policies (or "Emerson Report"), the CSA acts "as a technical supervisor" to support specific committees, to the Minister of Public Works in order to help negotiate "co-operative agreements with other countries' space agencies," co-manages space technology development (along with the National Research Council), conducts its own research, operates its existing satellite inventory and maintains the Canadian astronaut program.
CSA programs are often funded only partially through the CSA, but instead depend on funds from other areas, such as other Industry Canada departments, academic institutions and the private sector.
The current chief executive officer of the CSA is president Sylvain Laporte, who reports directly to the Minister of Industry.Department of National Defence (DND) - Home of the Canadian Armed Forces and a variety of other sub-groups and departments, such as Defence Research and Development Canada which are either tasked with responsibility for the various components of our national defence or else with developing and/or procuring the appropriate tools to assist with this mission.
Of course, one might reasonably assume a DND requirement to develop the command, control, communications and situational awareness capabilities provided by the appropriate space based satellite systems, as outlined in documents like the April 21, 2015 Strategic Studies post, "Evolving Army Needs for Space-Based Support."
And sometimes that's even the way it works. But not always and not often in Canada.
Essentially, the DND has a 45 year bipartisan history of being consistently starved for funding from the Federal government, which has forced it to borrow a variety of tactical assets for specific missions from other (mostly American) partners, much to the detriment of Canadian based programs and our international reputation.
For example, the first annual Defence Acquisition Guide, released to moderate applause on June 16th, 2014, was an almost totally unfunded, $100Bln CDN wish list of DND pet projects (included several military-related space projects totaling some $5.9Bln CDN) which will likely soon join the $490Bln CDN Canada First Defence Strategy, another unfunded 2008 military program which eventually crashed against the shore of harsh government austerity.
For an overview of the current DND procurement requirements, plus an assessment of the increasing importance of government off-set credits, job creation expectations and economic development requirements in overall Federal government procurement policy, its worth taking a look at the May 28th, 2015 IHS Janes 360 article, "Canadian defence industry overview [CAN2015D2]."Export Development Canada (EDC) - Canada's export credit agency, this crown corporation works with the CCC and other government agencies to offer up "innovative financing packages" to those looking to expand their international business.
In 2013, EDC claimed over $5Bln CDN in support to the Canadian aerospace sector, mostly in the form of financing and alternative financing solutions, accounts receivable insurance and bonds to ensure supplier obligations.Industry Canada (IC) – The Canadian government department charged with fostering a growing, competitive, knowledge-based Canadian economy.
The head of the CSA reports directly to the head of IC and both agencies are governed by a variety of existing IC policies on science and technology such as the Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage Report (May 2007) and the Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage Progress Report (June 2009).
These policies enjoy wide support across among all Canadian political parties and were most recently reviewed by the 2012 Federal Review of Aerospace and Space Programs and Policies (or "Emerson Report," presented to then Industry Minister Christian Paradis in November 2012) and the Review of Federal Support to Research and Development (or "Jenkins panel," which was presented to then Minister of State Gary Goodyear in October 2011).
IC also manages the National Research Council (NRC) and various other organizations relating to science and technology.The National Research Council (NRC) – The primary Canadian government resource for science and technology (S&T) funding.
The NRC works with the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) and the Networks of Centres of Excellence.
The NRC reports to Industry Canada (IC), which tends to focus Canadian spending in this area around questions of commercialization, rather than basic research.Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) - A collaborative network of organizations across Ontario designed to help entrepreneurs, businesses and researchers commercialize their ideas.
One of the better provincial government offerings in this area although other provincial governments offer many of the same services with greater or lesser degrees of success.
Collaborative organizations include the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), the Centre for Commercialization of Research (CCR), OMERS Ventures, the Ontario Aerospace Council (OAC), the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE), the Network of Angel Organizations - Ontario (which administrators the Ontario Angel Network Program) and quite a few others.
Many Canadian space companies (and even a few academic institutions) receive funding through the OCE or through organizations affiliated with it.
United States Office of Space Commercialization – Only in Canada would it be possible to suggest that one of the best places to find information on government space policies and initiatives would be a foreign government website.
But in an age focused on the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and its Canadian equivalent, the Controlled Goods Program (CGP), this site provides great background material from the US Department of Commerce relating to commercial space activities, general policy information affecting all areas of commercial space activities and documents related to the US National Space Policy.
Highly recommended for space geeks and business entrepreneurs looking to sell into, but not necessarily live in, the highly lucrative US market.