Monday, June 27, 2016

The 2002 Liberal Innovation Strategy

          By Chuck Black

Canada's Innovation Strategy. Graphic c/o Gov't of Canada.
It's worth noting that 2016 isn't the first time we've had a Liberal government in power in Ottawa, nor the first time there have been concerns over our Canadian "innovation agenda."

As outlined in the June 13th, 2016 post, "Government Announces Comprehensive Review of Canadian Science," the current Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced an independent review of billions of dollars of federal funding for science and academics currently in place to support scientists in Canada.

That review is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

But, in February 2002, the governing Liberal party under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien was dealing with much the same problem.

Under his administration, the Canadian ministers of industry and human resources development released two interesting policy papers on innovation strategy.

The first, Achieving Excellence: Investing in People, Knowledge and Opportunity recognized the need "to consider knowledge as a strategic national asset" and focused on "how to strengthen our science and research capacity and on how to ensure that this knowledge contributes to building an innovative economy that benefits all Canadians."

The second, Knowledge Matters: Skills and Learning for Canadians proposed a series of national goals and milestones against which progress can be measured over time and reported on regularly to Canadians.

Chuck Black.
Of course, neither of those policy papers ever turned into government policy and are mostly forgotten today. Figuring out why this happened is something the Trudeau government needs to do as it moves forward with its current review.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

2016 Listing of Canadian Business and Entrepreneur Focused Organizations in Space

          By Henry Stewart

The space industry in Canada is a strange and often confusing combination of business and entrepreneur focused organizations, educational facilities, government departments, and the advocates, activists and groups who provide the political support for the others.

With that in mind, he's a partial listing of the Canadian business and entrepreneurial focused organizations you'll need to know about, if you're planning to build a space company.

Most are very practical and more than happy to make a little money off the high frontier, or anywhere else there's a profit to be made.


The Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) - A not-for-profit business association advocating on aerospace policy issues that have a direct impact on aerospace and space companies and jobs in Canada. Heavily involved in the November 2012 Aerospace Review, with the first volume focused on the aerospace industry and the second  focused on space. The organization has also worked with the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Québec (CRIAQ) on the development of the Consortium for Aerospace Research and Innovation in Canada (CARIC).

The Canadian regional chapter of the Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME) - A part of the larger Association of Manufacturing Excellence, with chapters across the US, the UK and Australia. Whether on Earth or in space, things still need to be manufactured and AME is the leading industry-diverse community with more than 4,000 professionals dedicated to enterprise excellence, continuous improvement, lean methodologies and kaizen techniques in manufacturing.

The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA Alliance) – The largest hi-tech association in Canada. Originally focused on software and telecommunications, CATA provides good background materials on government programs related to innovation, such as the Federal government Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credit and others. Currently focused around its Competitive Innovation Nation Campaign, designed to boost Canada’s competitiveness and innovation rankings.

The Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute (CASI) - A nonprofit technical organization for aeronautics, space and remote sensing. The organization hosts a variety of events including the bi-annual CASI Aero and CASI Astro conferences.

The Canadian Accelleration and Business Incubation (CABI) Association – Dedicated to the development of new enterprises and supporting the growth of new and emerging businesses, this organization has access to over 60+ Canadian business incubators and accelerators with a broad range of expertise.

The Canadian Association of Defense and Security Industries (CADSI) – The “voice” the Canadian defense and security industries, the organizers of the annual Canada Global Defence and Security Trade Show (CANSEC) and the authors of the 2014 State of Canada's Defence Industry.

Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA) - An industry lobby group representing 500 solar energy groups throughout Canada formed in 1992 from the amalgamation of the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CSIA) and the Canadian Photovoltaic Industries Association (CPIA).

The Canadian Space Commerce Association (CSCA) – A "registered Canadian not-for-profit industry organization existing to advance the economic, legal and political environment for space and aerospace focused companies." Organizes intimate bi-monthly meetings and larger national events for the hobbyist and (sometimes) entrepreneur.

The Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA) – With over 2000 members with over $105 billion in capital under management, the CVCA represents the majority of private equity companies in Canada. Focused on venture capital (investment in early stage, mostly technology based companies), mezzanine financing (subordinated debt or preferred stock with an equity kicker) and buyout funding (risk investment in established private or publicly listed firms that are undergoing a fundamental change in operations or strategy).

CANEUS International - A non-profit organization of professionals involving public/private partnership, serving primarily the needs of aeronautics, space and defense communities by fostering the coordinated, international development of micro-nano technologies (MNT) for aerospace and defense applications.

The Center for Space Entrepreneurship (eSpace) – Although not a Canadian example, this Boulder, CO based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization supports the creation and development of entrepreneurial space companies, the commercialization of the technologies they create, and the workforce to fuel their growth. Well worth using as a model for further Canadian development.

The Commercial SpaceFlight Federation (CSF) – Another non-Canadian example worth emulating. The 40 businesses and organizations who are members of the CSF provide a comprehensive snapshot of the emerging international NewSpace industry. Canadian members include MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) and others.

The Consortium for Aerospace Research and Innovation in Canada (CARIC) – CARIC is a joint initiative of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) and the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Québec (CRIAQ) to create "a national research and technology network that unites stakeholders from industry, universities, colleges and research institutions" across Canada. Uses the CRIAQ, funding and collaborative model.

The Delta-V Space Accelerator - Australia's first space start-up, industry led accelerator is a partnership between Saber Astronautics Pty LtdLaunchbox Pty Ltd, the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the SpaceNet group at Sydney University. Focused on developing start-ups building  lightweight, 3-D-printed nanosats, low-cost, re-usable launch systems, smart sensors, machine learning, big data and/ or autonomous robot development.

Deltion Innovations – Billed as "Sudbury's first aerospace company" and focused on the design and fabrication of terrestrial and space mining systems, the organization also helps to organize the annual Space Resources Roundtable and Planetary and Terrestrial Mining Sciences Symposium. The company was originally part of the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (NORCAT).

The various European Space Agency (ESA) Business Incubation Centres (ESI) and the European Space Incubators Network (ESINET) – The ESA spends a lot of time and effort supporting small and innovative space focused firms. The work done through these two organizations is well worth investigating for lessons which are also applicable for Canada.

The Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (IPEC) – A national association comprised of over 1,700 members from Canada and abroad. Members include patent agents, trade-mark agents and lawyers specializing in intellectual property. This is the first stop on the line if you're a rocket scientist looking to protect your trade, and any other of the secrets you might need, to run a business. 

The Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) - Not especially space related (unless you're familiar with the partnerships developed in Great Britain between the IT and space advocacy communities, which led to the creation of the UK Space Agency in 2010), but heavily involved in much the same issues of government procurement, innovation and commercialization. Even better, many of the entrepreneurial leaders in the current NewSpace community (Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, for example) started in IT. The panel chair of the 2012 Review of Federal Support to Research and Development (the "Jenkins panel," which directly effected Industry Canada (IC) and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) activities) was Tom Jenkins, then the executive chairman and chief strategy officer of Waterloo based Open Text Corporation, a member in good standing of ITAC.

Kentucky Space – Another of those international examples which ambitious Canadians need to learn more about. This US based non-profit consortium comprising the University of Kentucky, Morehead State University, the NASA Kentucky Space Grant Consortium and EPSCoR Programs plus Belcan Corporation (a Cincinnati, OH based engineering headhunting firm) is focused on the research and development issues of small entrepreneurial and commercial space solutions. Managed by the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation.

Maple Leaf Start-ups - An interactive assessment tool from start-up marketer Marc Evans, on where to go to get funding and support for Canadian start-ups. The list is divided up into business incubators and accelerators, angel investors, plus seed, series A and series B funding sources. Derived from the Canadian Start-up Financing Landscape info-graphic.

The MaRS Discovery District – A Toronto business incubator focused on the medical and IT industries but open to new ideas. Maintains the MaRS Funding Sources Directory, a listing of provincial, national and international funding sources suitable for Ontario companies in both the public and private sectors.

Mitacs – A national, not-for-profit research organization focused on building "partnerships between academia, industry, and the world – to create a more innovative Canada." Offers a suite of research and training programs "which enable companies to connect with top Canadian and international researchers."

The MoneyTree Report on Venture Capital investment in the United States - A quarterly report compiled by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and the US based National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) which tracks venture capital activity in the United States by region, industry, funding stage, financing sequence, investing fund and receiving firm.

The National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) – An organization of Canadian angel capital investors. NACO connects individuals, groups, and other partners that support angel-stage investing; provides intelligence, tools and resources for its members; facilitates key connections across networks, borders and industries and helps to inform policy affecting the "angel asset-class."

National Crowd Funding Association of Canada (NCFA) - An organization billing itself as "Canada’s crowd funding hub," the NCFA works closely with industry groups, government, academia, other business associations and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowd funding industry and voice across Canada. 

NewSpace Global (NSG) – Provides accurate and critical information on international NewSpace focused organizations and opportunities. NSG publishes a variety of items for subscribers, including the always up to date NewSpace Watch online news service, the Observer company database, which tracks the top international NewSpace companies and Thruster Magazine, the monthly market tracking report for NSG. Subscribers include Fortune 500s, universities, government agencies, small and large corporations, and space industry investors.

The Ontario Aerospace Council - One of several regional, not for profit associations of aerospace firms across Canada tasked with enhancing industry competitiveness. Others include Aero Montreal, the Aerospace Industry Association of British Columbia (AIABC), the Manitoba Aerospace Association and the Unmanned Vehicle Systems Canada (UVS).

The Space Angels Network – an American based network of angel investors that also accepts investors and clients from Canada and Europe. Sponsored by the Center for the Advancement for Science in Space(CASIS), Spaceflight Services (a one stop shop for manifests, certification and integration of small satellites into a network of established and emerging launch and space transportation vehicles), the Habif, Arogetti and Wynne accounting firm, SpaceNest (an Israeli based space incubator) and the Jones Day law firm. Strategic partners include the Space Foundation ( a Colorado-based nonprofit "advocate" for the global space industry), the Space Frontier Foundation, the UK based Catapult Satellite Applications Corporation, the Australian based Delta-V Space Accelerator and venture fund Gust. Of particular note is the discussion on Space Investing.

The Space Frontier Foundation - US based advocacy group which believes that the barriers to space exploration are "primarily found in the bureaucratic status-quo of the government space program," and that change must come externally, through entrepreneurship. Organizers of the annual NewSpace business plan competition

Space Works Commercial – A US based aerospace engineering and design incubator focused on next-generation space transportation systems, future technologies, human and robotic exploration of space, emerging space markets and their applications.

Start-Up Canada – Entrepreneur led, national movement to enhance the nation’s competitiveness and prosperity by supporting and celebrating Canadian entrepreneurship.

The TechConnex Hub - Typical of efforts across Canada (although perhaps more successful), this association acts as an industry-directed hub for small and mid-size tech businesses throughout the greater Toronto area. – An online community of over 20,000 CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs who get together to discuss fundraising, rate and review angel investors and venture capitalists, and exchange ideas for strategies to grow start-up businesses. A part of the Founder Institute.


Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

Monday, June 20, 2016

ISRO Preparing to Launch 20 Satellites Including Canadian M3MSat & GHGSat-D Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Satellite

          By Chuck Black

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has begun the final forty-eight hour countdown for its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) flight C-34.

A panoramic view of the fully integrated PSLV C-34 rocket with its 20 satellite payload being moved from its vehicle assembly building to the second launch pad (SLP) of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, earlier this month. Photo c/o ISRO.

The launcher, carrying the Indian Cartosat-2C Earth observation satellite, the Canadian Maritime Monitoring and Messaging Microsatellite (M3MSat) & the Greenhouse Gas Satellite - Demonstrator (GHGSat-D, also nicknamed "Claire"), plus 17 others satellites from a variety of nations, is scheduled to launch into a 505 km polar sun synchronous orbit (SSO) on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016 at 09.26hr IST (Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 at 11:56 pm EDT).

As outlined in the June 20th, 2016 Indian Express post, "ISRO clears 48-hour countdown for launching of PSLV-C34," the ISRO Mission Readiness Review committee and Launch Authorisation Board "have cleared the 48-hour countdown starting at 09.26 hr IST on Monday, June 20, 2016 and the launch of PSLV-C34/Cartosat-2 Series Satellite Mission for Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 09.26hr IST."

M3MSat schematics. As outlined in the EO Portal Directory M3MSat page, the "M3Msat mission was approved in 2006-2007 by the Department of National Defence (DND) and CSA (the Canadian Space Agency) as a joint microsatellite mission for maritime monitoring and messaging." As outlined in the April 28th, 2014 post, "M3MSat and the Politics of Dancing in the Crimea," the Canadian Federal government "decided not to proceed" with the planned June 2014 launch of M3MSat from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in order to protest Russian activities in the Ukraine.  Eventually the satellite ended up on the PSLV Flight C-34 Indian rocket. But only time will tell if M3MSat remains a useful addition to Canadian capabilities after all these years. Graphic c/o EO Portal.

For more information on the GHGSat-D greenhouse gas monitoring satellite, check out the November 30th, 2015 Commercial Space Special Report, "All Systems Go! GHGSat Completes Testing and is Ready for Launch."

To learn more about M3MSat, check out the June 7th, 2015 post "M3MSat Now Scheduled for Launch in 2016" and the June 19th, 2016 National Post article, "All systems go for Canadian surveillance satellite two years after launch scuttled by Russian sanctions."
Chuck Black.
EDITOR'S NOTE: As outlined in the June 21st, 2016 NASA Spaceflight Now post, "India’s PSLV-XL launches with Cartosat-2C and 19 satellites," the PSLV C-34 has successfully launched and deployed its 20 satellites.  

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Our Space Agency Needs More Astronauts & MacDonald Dettwiler Might Just Have Received $50Mln CDN for an RCM Data App

          By Henry Stewart 

Two Federal ministers made Friday announcements relating to Canadian space activities. The first announcement, made early in the day by Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, was a welcome call by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) for two new astronauts.

Innovation minister Bains announcing an open call for two new astronauts at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum on Friday, June 17th. As outlined in the June 17th, 2016 Canadian Press article, "Canadian Space Agency seeks polite astronauts to join space program,"  applications for two new astronaut openings are being accepted until Aug. 15th, and "the more stereotypically Canadian the astronaut-hopefuls are, the better." For a more formal perspective on the application process, check out the CSA web page on astronaut recruitment. Photo c/o Adrian Wyld / Canadian Press.

But the second announcement, made near the end of the day by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, was for $48.5Mln CDN to fund a simple upgrade of the the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Polar Epsilon program, to allow for the use of data derived from the upcoming RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM), and seemed a little on the pricey side.

Especially given that the last RCM contract, signed in 2012 was supposed to be a "fixed price contract," which covered final construction, launch costs and operational costs for the first year. The Polar Epsilon program currently utilizes RADARSAT-2 data to provide enhanced all-weather day and night surveillance capabilities.

The new contract, as outlined in the June 17th, 2016 Macdonald Dettwiler (MDA) press release, "MDA to deliver a broad-area maritime surveillance system using the RADARSAT Constellation Mission," would add "ground segment systems with the capability to receive and exploit information from the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites, currently being built by MDA for the Canadian Space Agency."

As outlined in the Department of National Defence (DND) website on Polar Epsilon, the original program already included the construction of ground stations at Masstown, Nova Scotia and  Aldergrove, British Columbia. According to the June 17th, 2016 post, "National Defence Awards MDA Polar Epsilon 2 Contract," the latest award included "ground receiving stations on the east and west coasts which will be designed to use data from the RADARSAT Constellation Mission satellites to detect ships. The contract also includes an option to implement infrastructure to manage data, which if exercised, could increase the total contract value to approximately $63.1 million."

Defence minister Sajjan at MDA HQ in BC on June 17th, to announce the latest MDA contract. Photo c/o MDA.

Absent further clarification relating to the physical construction requirements related to this contract, the possibility exists that MDA has been provided with a great deal of money for creating a simple data "app," the sort of thing that contestants in the NASA Space Apps Challenge creates by the dozens, over a weekend each April, for free.

And, as outlined in the January 12th, 2013 post "A $706Mln Fixed Price Contract and Hard Launch Date for RADARSAT Constellation," the last contract for RCM was pitched as being a "fixed price which covers the completion of "phase D" or final construction, plus launch costs, operational costs for the first year" plus a contractual requirement to "launch the (three) satellites in 2018."

This latest RCM/ Polar Epsilon contract seems to not have been included in the 2013 fixed pricing agreement. It would be a shame if it turns out to be only the first of many new requirements relating to RCM which weren't covered in the original contract.

For more information on the NASA Space Apps Challenge, it's worth checking out the April 26th, 2016 post on "A Weekend at the 2016 NASA Space Apps Challenge."
EDITORS NOTE: MDA director of public affairs Leslie Swartman checked in via e-mail shortly after the above article was send out in our Tuesday subscriber e-mail. She said:
I’ve attached the backgrounder on PE2. Did you try to reach anyone at MDA or DND to discuss what PE2 (Polar Epsilon 2) is before writing your blog? You must be aware that the RCM Phase D fixed price contract is something entirely different than the ground receiving stations for what is a brand new satellite constellation.
I think you need to update your story with information from the attached backgrounder.
Thanks, Leslie.
For the record, we did call into MDA last week after the Friday afternoon announcement was made and also reached out to several ex-MDA employees, but were unable to find anyone who would go on record as saying that the Polar Epsilon upgrades were not included as part of the 2012 fixed price contract covering RCM.
But now that we've connected with the appropriate person, we've also requested some background into why the Polar Epsilon upgrades weren't included in the 2012 "fixed price" contract. After all, Polar Epsilon could certainly be considered as a requirement for the ongoing operation of RCM in the first year.
We will update this post as new information becomes available.  
The MDA backgrounder on Polar Epsilon 2 has been posted online here, for those who'd like to learn more. 
UPDATE: Ottawa based Department of National Defence (DND) and CSA contractor Randy Shelly has weighed in on the issue of why Polar Epsilon upgrades weren't included in the 2012 RCM contract. According to Shelly: 
The RCM contract is for the satellites and the ground system to operate those satellites. The RCM ground system is located at CSA in St. Hubert, and in Gatineau, and uses the existing Radarsat 2 equipment. 
Polar Epsilon is DNDs ground system, which is separately funded.
In essence, according to Mr. Shelly, the new funding covers the Canadian military requirements for RCM utilization, which are funded separately and not covered as part of the 2012 "fixed price" RCM agreement. 
UPDATE 2: For more information on this topic, including some interesting comments from the PE2 project manager, check out the July 4th, 2016 post, "That 2013 "Fixed Pricing" Contract for RCM Might Not be Entirely Fixed." 

Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Audacious Visions of Elon Musk's Plan for the Red Planet

          By Brian Orlotti

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has revealed some broad details about his plan for the human settlement of Mars. The reveal serves as a "teaser" of sorts for Musk's formal unveiling this fall at the 2016 International Astronautical Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico.

A representation of the proposed 2018 SpaceX Mars sample return mission, a "Red Dragon" on Mars. Graphic c/o SpaceX.

As outlined in the June 10th, 2016 Washington Post article, "Elon Musk provides new details on his ‘mind blowing’ mission to Mars," SpaceX will begin by launching an uncrewed Dragon spacecraft to Mars in 2018. The Red Dragon flights will continue every two years, with launch windows set for when Earth and Mars are at their closest. These spacecraft will carry scientific experiments and robotic rovers to the red planet. If all goes well, these flights will build toward the first human landing on Mars in 2025.

Graphic c/o
SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft will travel to Mars on the company's upcoming rocket, the Falcon Heavy. With its first flight scheduled for later this year, the Falcon Heavy is set to become the “most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two,” according to the SpaceX website.

The Falcon Heavy's 27 first-stage engines will have more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, about the equivalent of 18 Boeing 747 airliners. During the 2020 launch window, Musk said that SpaceX will aim to fly at least two Falcon Heavy rockets and Dragon spacecraft laden with experiments.

By that time there will be quite a few organizations … that are interested in running experiments on Mars,” he said.

In addition to scientific knowledge and income for SpaceX, these first flights will let the company hone its skills in interplanetary navigation, test mission hardware and practice landing safely on the surface of Mars. Such practice will be crucial to building public and investor confidence in Musk's enterprise.

In 2024, with the first phase complete, Musk hopes to launch the long-speculated Mars Colonial Transporter, the ship that will carry the first humans to Mars.

NASA, for its part, has pledged “technical support” for SpaceX's endeavour, but no more. The space agency, soon to be subjected to another US election cycle and enslaved to the ever-shifting whims of its political masters, seems unable to do much else.

The task ahead is huge, and Musk has no illusions about the risks and complexities involved. Musk stated, “the first mission wouldn’t have a huge number of people on it, because if something goes wrong, we want to risk the fewest number of lives as possible.”

Musk also admitted that hitting a crewed flight launch window in late 2024 with a landing in 2025 will require luck as well as no major issues.

Musk went on to say:
But I do want to emphasize this is not about sending a few people to Mars. It’s about having an architecture that would enable the creation of a self-sustaining city on Mars with the objective of being a multi-planet species and a true space-faring civilization and one day being out there among the stars. 
It’s dangerous and probably people will die—and they’ll know that. And then they’ll pave the way, and ultimately it will be very safe to go to Mars, and it will very comfortable. 
But that will be many years in the future.
Brian Orlotti.
Vision and audacity; the twin pillars of Elon Musk's plans for the Red planet.

Fortune favours the bold.

Brian Orlotti is a network operations centre analyst at Shomi, a Canadian provider of on-demand internet streaming media and a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Government Announces Comprehensive Review of Canadian Science

          By Henry Stewart

Science Minister Duncan. Photo c/o Gizmodo.
The federal government has announced an independent review of billions of dollars of federal funding for science and academics.

An independent panel, expected to report "by the end of this year," will review the activities of the National Research Council (NRC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), as well as programs like the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the various Canada Research Chairs, Genome Canada and others.

As outlined in the June 13th, 2016 Canadian government press release, "Government of Canada Launches Review of Federal Support for Fundamental Science," the review, which will report to Science Minister Kirsty Duncan, will assess the program machinery that is currently in place to support science and scientists in Canada. 

The review will be chaired by David Naylor, the former president of the University of Toronto. Other panelists include:
  • Rémi Quirion, the first, and the current chief scientist of the Quebec provincial government.
As outlined in the June 13th, 2016 Science post, "Canada launches review of its research enterprise," chairman Naylor has been involved with this sort of a report before. As outlined in the article:
Last year, Naylor chaired a task force on health care innovation appointed by (then Prime Minister) Harper whose report, Unleashing Innovation: Excellent Healthcare for Canada, so angered the Conservative government that it refused to allow him to hold a press conference to announce his findings
The current review follows closely on both the 100th anniversary of the NRC, and a series of growing crises within the organization which have recently spilled over into the public consciousness.

Canada's new "innovation agenda" is expected to be largely in place in time for the 2016 Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC), which will be held in Ottawa in November 2016, at least according to the CSPC website. Here's wishing them luck. Screenshot c/o

As outlined in the April 12, 2016 post, "The National Research Council Doesn't Fit Within the Current Innovation Agenda," these crises have included concerns over how Canada was being left behind in the race to turn scientific advances into useful commercial products and how the NRC fits within the current Liberal government's innovation agenda.

Science Minister Duncan, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains and Minister of Small Business and Tourism Bardish Chagger are expected to go into a little more detail about the innovation agenda on Tuesday, June 14th, 2016 at the National Press Club in Ottawa, according to the June 13th, 2016 Federal government press advisory on, "Ministers to announce engagement on the Government of Canada's Innovation Agenda."

Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Quick Conversation with Euroconsult on the "Comprehensive Socio-Economic Impact Assessment of the Canadian Space Sector"

          By Chuck Black

Adam Keith. Photo c/o Euroconsult.
The June 3rd, 2016 release of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) report on the 2015 "Comprehensive Socio-Economic Impact Assessment of the Canadian Space Sector," originally categorized as "a sweeping study of the benefits of Canada’s involvement in space," seems to have sunk without notice into a summer news cycle more focused around terrorism, consumerism, anecdotal personal interest stories and government PR. 

But according to Adam Keith, the managing director of Euroconsult Canada (the firm which compiled the report under CSA contract), there are a number of useful take-aways which could certainly assist with the development of federal economic and innovation policy. 

Keith corresponded with the blog last week, with a little help from his colleagues and a little input from the CSA. The questions asked and the answers provided are listed below:

The objective of the CSA report is to measure, on an annual basis, changes to the baseline features of the Canadian space sector. 
Regional distribution of jobs and revenue in the Canadian space sector. Source c/o CSA Annual Survey 2013/ Euroconsult.
These baseline features take stock of the number of organizations active in the sector and their composition (i.e. the percentage of small, medium enterprises, or SMEs, the share of universities, etc), the sectors of activity (i.e. Earth observation or EO, exploration, science, navigation, satcom and other), the Canadian space workforce and composition (including its share of highly qualified personnel or HQPs, the regional distribution of the workforce and the types of jobs held by the workforce), R&D and innovation, as well as a few other baseline indicators.
The CSA report [i.e CSA's 2013 report] provided data on the sector for 20 years, following a consistent methodology, which enabled comparisons across the years and with other countries. The objective of this current report (the Euroconsult report) is to assess socio-economic impacts of the Canadian space sector.
Chart showing the distribution of companies by revenue in the Canadian space sector. As outlined in the Euroconsult report, "the Canadian space sector is characterized by the presence of a large number of SMEs (firms with under 500 employees) who account for nearly 90% of all organizations. These SMEs are primarily anchored in the engineering & research and services segments." Graphic c/o CSA/ Euroconsult.
The scope includes the baseline data of the CSA report, and is wider in that it seeks to determine the impacts of that baseline, its social (e.g. connectivity amongst participants in the sector), environmental (e.g. improved natural resource management), strategic (e.g. increased capabilities for DND); and economic impacts (e.g. GDP and stimulation of job creation in the economy)…  
The two reports are complementary and do not intend to replace one another. 
Editor's Note: As outlined explicitly in the opening "Note to Reader / Upcoming Transition" preface to the 2013 State of the Canadian Space Sector Report, the 2013 CSA report was intended to be the last to use the standard CSA methodologies.
According to the 2013 CSA report, future assessments would use methodologies developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which, as noted below, are the methodologies used in several chapters of the more recent Euroconsult report. 
It is interesting to note that a review of the graphs and tables contained in the Euroconsult report appear to terminate with 2013 data, as did those in the CSA's 2013 report. Hence, the two documents appear to cover the same time frame.
The 2013 CSA report coincides very closely with section two of the Euroconsult report (but)... there are two main differences. 
Labour productivity of the typical Canadian space sector worker as compared to other Canadian industry sectors. According to the Euroconsult report, "with a GDP per worker of roughly $123,000, space manufacturing firms had higher productivity levels than several notable manufacturing sector peers including computers and electronics, pharmaceutical and automotive manufacturing firms. Space manufacturers trailed the productivity levels of the aerospace manufacturing sector, partially attributable to the fact that space firms generally manufacture goods in smaller, less standardized batches than their aerospace peers." Graphic c/o CSA/ Euroconsult.
First, the CSA data from 1996-2013 had organized revenues into the following categories: Space Research, Space Segment, Ground Segment, Applications and Services. 
In collaboration with CSA, Euroconsult reorganized the presentation of this data into categories that align with a value-chain approach: Research, Engineering and Consulting, Space System Manufacturing, Ground System Manufacturing, Satellite Operations, Products and Applications, Services. 
This work was in line with new methodologies developed at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Global Forum on Space Economics. Details about these categories can be found in the report. 
The second difference is that, since the definitions of the value chain include an expanded view of downstream services, more organizations with broadcasting revenues were included. You will see reference throughout the report to revenues with and without broadcasting included. 
A graphic mapping of private sector and government department end users of space based solutions in Canada. According to the Euroconsult report, "there are three different segments to end users of space based solutions in Canada, falling under the categories Communications, Imagery, and Navigation. All of these segments contain private users in Energy/Mining, Forestry, and Maritime; and public users in DFO (the Department of Fisheries and Oceans), EC (Environment Canada), DND (the Department of National Defence), NRCAN (National Resources Canada), and Parks. Communications and Navigation share private users in Telecom, Air, Rail, Road, and Finance; with public users in Telecom. Communications and Imagery share private users in Media and Retail, and public users in Health. Finally, Imagery and Navigation have overlapping private users in Agriculture and Engineering, with public users in AAFC (Agriculture and Agrifoods Canada)." Graphic c/o CSA/ Euroconsult.
Section three does not have a counterpart in the 2013 CSA report.  This section is the core of the economic impact assessment which uses economic modeling to determine impacts on the national GDP and stimulation of jobs created (in addition to those tracked by CSA in the baseline features). 
Section three also captures tax benefits to the government.  The methodology for this modelling was developed in collaboration with the federal department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) and the CSA.  A description can be found on page 94 of the Euroconsult report.
  • Government space activities as outlined in section two of the Euroconsult report on "The Canadian Space Sector," seem limited to the projects listed on page 17 of the report and include no pure research or R&D functions, except as they relate to the fulfilment of the listed programs. Is this a fair assessment of the current responsibilities of the CSA?
The objective of the report was to assess the Canadian space sector, not to perform an exhaustive review or catalogued audit of the CSA’s activities. 
Section two outlines the roles of Canadian government agencies in space, including but not limited to the CSA and is certainly not an assessment of the latter’s responsibilities. 
The table specifies in its title that it represents a selection of “major current government space projects”. Impacts of the CSA’s R&D and innovation functions are described in other sections of the report, notably section 3.3.1 the “Support to Innovation” chapter. 
The Canadian space manufacturing sector and its connected sectors. According to the Euroconsult report, "For the approximately 10 Tier 1 companies, another 55 companies are estimated to be Tier 2 suppliers and over 200 Tier 3 suppliers, all in all active in well over 20 distinct sectors or industries." Source c/o CSA/ Euroconsult.
  • On page 89 of the report, it states explicitly that "this report does not aim to formulate recommendations." But let's be fair, no government spends $250K CDN without a reasonable expectation that their contracted report will at least collect together some new information useful to the development of policy. What should be the takeaways from the Euroconsult report?
Indeed, providing recommendations was not within the scope of the report. The purpose was to arm the CSA and government policy-makers with a view of the benefits derived from space activities in Canada. 
Key takeaways relevant to policy-making are detailed in section five, the “Conclusions” chapter. 
A key message/finding derived from the expanded analysis of the sector’s broader economic impacts is that the Canadian space sector, notably within its manufacturing base, is highly productive in terms of its GDP creation per worker as compared to most of Canada’s leading industries. 
This is despite the sector’s large number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which, as a group, have been historically cited as a reason for Canada’s labor productivity deficit as compared to the United States. 
Canada’s space sector also compares favorably in terms of economic (GDP) multipliers (described in the Economic footprint chapter) with the U.K’s space sector, which has benefited from heightened government support in recent years.
It's worth noting that this specific type of report might never have seen the light of day and its creators would almost certainly have felt far less comfortable discussing it publicly under the previous government.

But that was then, and this is now. The current question is perhaps a bit more prosaic. Now that this report has been released, what does the current federal government intend to do with it?
Chuck Black.

Will it contribute to policy or be ignored by the current Federal government? That's the important question, today.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

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