Monday, June 03, 2013

Neptec CEO Joins AIAC as Executive VP

Iain Christie at the 2012 Canadian Aerospace Summit, where he gave a presentation "Celebrating 50 Years of Canada in Space."

As outlined in the May 30th, 2013 press release from the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) titled "Iain Christie Joins Aerospace Industries Association of Canada as Executive Vice President," the long serving CEO of Ottawa based Neptec Design Group will be joining the AIAC as its new executive vice president, effective June 17th.

But while his formal role will cover small business, defence procurement, space and issues related to AIAC growth and development, there will also be substantial advocacy for the Canadian space industry.

"Anyone who doesn't think there is a strong public consensus for a continuing Canadian role in space doesn't know the number of people following Chris Hadfield on twitter," said Christie during a phone interview on Monday.

According to Christie, "there are a number of not terribly expensive things we need to do at the Federal level" in order to "avoid a precipice," where the high quality jobs and opportunities in this growing international sector begin to migrate to other countries and jurisdictions.

Christie singled out the implementation of both the 2012 Federal Review of Aerospace and Space Programs and Policies (usually referred to as either the "Aerospace Review Report" or the "Emerson Report" after review head David Emerson) and the 2011 Review of Federal Support to Research and Development programs (often called the "Jenkins panel" after panel chair Tom Jenkins) as being key requirements to continue to grow the industry.

Christie, who was last interviewed for the January 6th, 2013 post "What's Next for Neptec," said that he believes that the Canadian space industry is at "a crucial moment in time."

As outlined in the October 31st, 2012 Ottawa Business article "Canadian space sector stalls," the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) once managed the space industry in Canada:
(CSA) used to plot the space industry’s course through frequently issued long-term plans and by contracting out well over half its annual budget to Canada’s 200-odd private space companies.

But it’s been years since the CSA floated any plan the feds endorsed, and its budgets dwindled over the past five years. “Canada retains a skilled space workforce,” observed Futron Corp., a consultancy, in its latest report on global space competitiveness. But delays in updating space policy “are significantly offsetting these competitive advantages,” it observed.
Commercial organizations and advocacy groups like the AIAC are clearly attempting to fill in the gap between the traditional government role of guiding space policy and the current realities. These are indeed crucial times.

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