Australian Space Agency seeks industry consultation on grant program

Australian Space Agency seeks industry consultation on grant program

Max Blenkin

The Australian Space Agency (ASA) has sought feedback on the government’s International Space Investment (ISI) initiative launched in the federal budget in April.

ASA would like to know what the industry and stakeholders think of the plan, which provides grants to strategic space projects that generate employment and business opportunities and whether it could be improved.

That funding isn’t enormous – $15 million over three years, with $3 million in 2019-20, $5 million on 2020-21 and $7 million in 2021-22.

This will target projects with a minimum of 80 per cent of the investment in Australia for the benefit of Australian space industry firms.

ASA said the Australian space sector was growing fast, with forecasts of up to 7.1 per cent growth per year over the next five years, outpacing GDP.

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However, Australia is entering a rapidly growing and fiercely competitive international market and Australian space businesses face a range of market barriers which limit growth.

That includes distance from markets, limited or incomplete local value chains, and limited connections into established international space economies like the US and Europe.

 

They also face challenges accessing investment and venture capital markets.

“Australian space businesses will need to build capability and capacity to enter international supply chains,” ASA said.

ISI objectives are to help unlock international space opportunities for the Australian space sector, expand capability and capacity and demonstrate the sector’s ability to successfully deliver space-related products and services internationally.

It also aims to support projects that will inspire businesses, the community and the next generation of the space workforce, researchers and entrepreneurs.

The ASA proposed that there should be two streams of activity for ISI funding. Through the Open Doors stream, grants would target international space agency projects that would unlock opportunities for the Australian space sector.

Under the Expand Capability stream, grants would be awarded competitively to build capability and capacity of the Australian space sector and support creation of jobs.

Grant funding could be used to support research and development, commercialisation, activities to expand Australian space industry capability and capacity, and avenues involving Australian businesses or products and services.

ASA said it would assess applications, taking advice from an expert panel. ASA plans to hold stakeholder consultations, including meetings in capital cities, in June and July.

Program design will be finalised in July and August and applications for funding will open in September. The first grants will be delivered in November.

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