Monday, January 08, 2018

Lots of AIAC "Aero" Initiatives, But Only "Hope" for Space Funding

          By Chuck Black

The incoming chair of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) has a list of priorities for 2018 which include "new investments in space capability, procurement reform, and strengthening the position of small and medium sized enterprises," which are the "key drivers for AIAC as much as they are central pieces of the government’s Innovation and Skills Agenda."

Bell Helicopter Textron Canada president Cynthia Garneau will also serve as AIAC chair in 2018. As outlined in the November 7th, 2017 AIAC press release, "Cynthia Garneau, President of Bell Helicopter Textron Canada, Elected Chair of the AIAC board," Garneau succeeded David Gossen, the president of IMP Aerospace & Defence, who served as AIAC chair in 2016. Photo c/o AIAC.

All of which sounds well and good. But the devil is always in the details, and a lack of specifics concerning those space investments is cause for concern in a Canadian space industry which doesn't seem to have been doing much growing lately.

As outlined in the January 8th, 2018 Skies Magazine post, "AIAC chair focused on innovation and diversity," Cynthia Garneau, the president of Borden, ON based Bell Helicopter Textron (the Canadian subsidiary of Fort Worth, TX based Bell Helicopter Textron) and AIAC’s incoming chair, made the comments in a recent interview.

According to Garneau:
The government’s focus on innovation as a driver of jobs and opportunity is great news... 
Our sector is a poster child for how innovation makes Canada’s economy much better. We can help lead the way and show other industries how…we contribute, how we collaborate…[to] help the government move forward with its innovation and skills agenda...
Graphic providing an overview of the October 2017 MOST21 super cluster proposal supported by the AIAC from the Project  MOST21 website. As outlined in the October 13th, 2017 post, "Short List for the $950Mln CDN Supercluster Initiative," while the MOST21 proposal and a second "agrifood" proposal to use satellite assets to improve crop yields made the shortlist for funding, a third space focused application from Satellite Canada, which put together a consortium of thirty-nine Canadian space focused corporations, associations and academic institutions willing to contribute time, effort and up to $328Mln CDN, to apply for the Federal super-cluster matching funds, was not approved for funding. Graphic c/o MOST21

However, as outlined in the article, much of the AIAC’s focus in 2018 will be a continuation of initiatives begun in 2017 including:
... more investment in the government’s five-year, $950Mln CDN Innovation Supercluster Initiative and support for an AIAC submission on MOST21, a supercluster proposal, led by CAE, on Mobility Systems and Technologies for the 21st Century that was shortlisted by the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) in October.
AIAC will also: with government to refine the five-year, $1.26Bln CDN Strategic Innovation Fund, a repayable and non-repayable funding program for a range of industrial and technology firms that, among other things, consolidates the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative (SADI) and Technology Demonstration Program (TDP) into a single program... 
As outlined on the March 10th, 2015 Government of Canada website under the title, " TDP verses SAID," relate to eligibility, project side, types of assistance provided, plus application, approval and reporting requirements. Graphic c/o Government of Canada

But when it comes to Canada's space industry, there seems to be no solid initiatives in place to point out to the government what's required. As outlined in the article, AIAC is only "hoping for new funding in Budget 2018 on a new space initiative."

Of course, hope and three bucks is really only worth a "venti" sized cup of coffee from Starbucks, but at least it always "springs eternal," especially among those who work in Canada's space industry and haven't yet moved to the US.

As outlined in the December 4th, 2017 post, "The Latest CDN Space Sector Report Notes 5 Year Slump (Except for BC) & Industry Dominates, Not Academia or Gov't," there has been a five year slump in Canadian space activities. To compensate, action will be required,

It's expected that the Federal government, as part of the 2018 Budget expected to be announced in March 2018, will allocate a few tens of millions of dollars of new funding for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to support Canadian component contributions (including a new Canadarm) to the Deep Space Gateway (DSG), a so far unfunded US proposal to build a new, smaller but slightly further away from the Earth space station when the existing International Space Station (ISS) program winds down in the 2020's. 

As outlined in the October 26th, 2017 post, "A Quick Overview of the Next Few Expected Federal Announcements Concerning the Canadian Space Industry," the DSG is designed to use existing materials and methodologies in order to save money which can be used for other programs and preserve existing jobs.

Hows that for innovation?
Chuck Black.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

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