Sunday, January 03, 2016

Canadian Space Agency Finally Releases 2013 Space Sector Report

          By Chuck Black

Cover art c/o CSA.
It's a year late, and already superseded by an expected 2014 report on the same topic completed by a Canadian Space Agency (CSA) subcontractor using a different methodology.

But the 2013 State of the Canadian Space Sector Report was finally and quietly released for public consumption on December 23rd, 2015.

Yeah, you read that correctly... The 2013 report.

As outlined in this "sorta" new assessment, the space sector generated approximately $3.49Bln CDN in 2013, which was a solid 5% increase over the $3.34Bln CDN generated in 2012, but only a marginal gain when compared to the $3.48Bln CDN generated in 2011.

Gains were also concentrated among the top 30 companies, a survey result which would normally indicate unfavorable conditions for small aerospace and space businesses focused around niche areas, which are typically the places where new ideas and processes are perfected and commercialized.

Of course, this isn't the first time that conditions within Canada's space economy have appeared to favour the largest players.

As outlined in the 2012 State of the Canadian Space Sector Report (which was released in January, 2014) the ten biggest space companies in Canada accounted for almost 88% of revenues and 64% of space industry employment in 2012. These earlier figures have changed only incrementally for the latest report.

The space workforce also grew by 3% in 2013, as compared to 2012. But the new positions were mostly added in administration, marketing, management or other areas of employment and were not generally considered to be "highly qualified positions."

The CSA has traditionally taken pride in the high percentage of highly qualified personnel (HQP), which are defined on the December 1st, 2008  the Statistics Canada webpage, "A profile of Canada's highly qualified personnel," as being "vital for innovation and economic growth."

Ten year trends in the Canadian space industry as outlined on page 21 of the 2013 State of the Canadian Space Sector Report suggest an industry in a state of stasis since 2010. As outlined in the November 21st, 2015 post, "Two New Government Players Looking to Prove their Usefulness," there is little indication that the new Liberal government is prepared to offer up any new solutions. At least they're bringing the paperwork up-to-date. Screenshot c/o CSA.  

Of course, the CSA isn't the only organization tracking the state of the space sector. According to the Space Economy at a Glance 2014, a publication from the Paris, France based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD):
Canada has a well-developed space industry, including about 200 private companies, in addition to research institutions and universities, some of which have some commercial activities...
The data used in the OECD publication had to come from somewhere, and most of the OECD numbers were referenced from the 2012 State of the Canadian Space Sector Report. For more details on this 2012 report, check out the January 24th, 2014 post, "Canadian Space Industry Shrinks While International Markets Grow!"

All of which suggests that there is scope for further research on the topic, and the generally acknowledged best way to begin this research is to explore something called the Handbook on Measuring the Space Economy.

The free for download publication is designed to provide a summary of the key metrics surrounding the indicators and statistics on the space sector and the larger space economy.

Cover art c/o OECD.
It's also meant to be complementary to the Space Economy at a Glance, which is updated every few years and published through the same Paris, France based OECD.

The CSA certainly respects the methodologies contained within the OECD publications.

As outlined in the August 24th, 2014 post, "Space Agency Seeks Insight into Space Industry," the CSA even explicitly referenced the Handbook the last time it solicited bids of up to $250,000 CDN from "qualified suppliers," able to undertake a "comprehensive socio-economic impact assessment" of the Canadian space sector.

The final deliverable for that CSA contract, originally expected to be completed in January 2015 (last year, not this year) by winning bidder Euroconsult-EC, has so far not been released for public consumption.

But that could also be about to change. As noted in the 2013 State of the Canadian Space Sector Report, the space ecosystem is evolving:
The OECD will shortly be issuing a new version of its Handbook on Measuring the Space Economy reflecting this ongoing effort to which the CSA has made significant contributions. 
In parallel to the collaborative effort with the OECD and the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (the ex-Canadian Industry Ministry), the CSA commissioned work in 2014–2015 to better understand the socio-economic impacts of Canadian space activities and investments (the Euroconsult-EC report discussed above). With this work, we gained valuable information on ways to characterize the space economy. 
To better reflect the current best practices and for matters of consistency with the approach recommended by the OECD, the CSA will, as of next year, transition to a new methodology that characterizes Canadian space activities on the basis of an Upstream-Downstream Value-Chain approach (an approach referenced in OECD methodologies). The CSA will provide the reader with tools to help bridge the historic data and reporting with the new methodology.
This new methodology should also cause an immediate, one time jump in total dollar amounts of space industry activity, since the industry suppliers and customers (the "upstream" and "downstream" components of the analysis) and not just the direct industry players, will be tracked for future reports.

Chuck Black.
Now that the paperwork trail is being brought up to date, can the capability to perform useful science and build world class, competitive "newspace" companies be far behind.

Yeah... Right...

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.


  1. Laugh? Cry?
    A full year to create a report - and perhaps I was looking for something different, but I saw not reference to the current state of activities to bolster and better support aerospace activities. Where would one go to find evidence of changing grants/rebates, or the state of efforts in Parliament to encourage and develop a workforce in this field?

  2. You'd most likely need to continue reading the Commercial Space blog to learn more about that type of information ;-)

  3. The implication is that jobs created in management, marketing, etc., are a disappointment. These positions might also reflect investment in stronger infrastructure as a platform for future expansion. The ratio of "HQP" to support staff taken in relation to headcounts might provide a better read on both innovation and the efficiency of commercialization.


Support our Patreon Page