Monday, June 27, 2016

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.

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