June 2017 Astronautics

Space economics - industry trends and space investing

Dylan Taylor Founding Partner, Space Angels, USA

The economics of the space industry are changing. Within so called ‘NewSpace’ not only are new entrants being created almost daily, the business models and capital sources have proven to be dramatically different from traditional models built upon large government contracts and defence related spending. If economics is to be believed, the future of the industry will be dramatically different from anything the industry has previously experienced. This will create opportunities for industry participants including agile and well-led established companies, talented and skilled professionals as well as investors.

What is NewSpace? It is perhaps best to describe what it is not. NewSpace companies are not multi-billion multinational companies that have other commercial interests in addition to space, nor are they smaller low growth firms focused exclusively on sovereign nations as clients via grants and SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) awards.

They are typically either companies focused on commercial elements of space, or they are part of the supply chain for larger space companies and are disrupting that supply chain with innovation. They are characterised by a scrappiness and mentality which is distinctly associated with Silicon Valley start-ups and they see existing business models as broken, inefficient or outdated. Perhaps the most prominent example of a newspace company is SpaceX.

Notwithstanding the fact that their business is primarily, if not exclusively, driven by the US government, they have approached solving issues in space from a non-traditional Silicon Valley startup mind set.

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