Monday, January 23, 2012

NewSpace Investor Says Governments Running Out of Money

Tom Olson.
"Build it and they will come has never been a good business model," at least according to Thomas Andrew Olson, who spoke last week in Toronto at the Astronomy and Space Exploration Society 9th Annual Expanding Canada's Frontiers symposium.

Of course, Olson should know.

He is a founding partner of Exodus Consulting Group, which currently offers independent due diligence for tech sector venture capitalists but once played a key role in the success of early Space Investment Summits by helping to craft them into "frank" dialogues on investment opportunities surrounding newspace related ventures.

Today, Olson is a project manager for the NewSpace Business Plan Competition, a project of the Space Frontier Foundation. According to the July 14th, 2011 Space Frontier Press article "NewSpace Awards Gala Honors the Stars of Commercial Space," the purpose of the competition is to have space industry investors critique business plan submissions and "highlight the stars of commercial space."

According to Olson, what he does isn't "rocket science."

It's simply a question of finding the appropriate tools, some of which may be derived from the various worldwide space programs, to solve existing problems and help to develop the space infrastructure. He uses the analogy of the gold rush to make his point.
Most people generally don't make a lot of money during a gold rush.

The ones who do make the money are the people who sell the workers pickaxes, or food and provide them with the lodging and all the other sundry infrastructure items needed in order to allow the search for gold to continue.
This likely places Canada in a good position for the future, since our space projects have always focused on solving terrestrial problems (such as continental communication, which was addressed by the creation of Telesat Canada in 1969)  and building out infrastructure for other projects (like the International Space Station, which was built using the Canadian CanadArm).

However, one core component of Canadian space focused projects up until now has been the judicious use of Federal government funding and Olson doesn't think government support for space activities is going to continue.

"Governments are running out of money" he states and any cursory review of the recent media is likely to re-enforce this viewpoint.

Perhaps that's why we need to take people like Tom Olson a little more seriously.

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