In the latest episode of Space Café Australia by Annie Handmer, she catches up with Troy McCann, for a conversation on the two things that make the world go around: space, and money. Australia’s space economy is unique, characterised by a growing class of start-ups that target the ‘NewSpace’ economy. But despite a dedicated Space Agency committed to growing the space economy, Australia’s domestic policy and funding settings are complicated to navigate. Start-ups compete with international primes for contracts and big university departments for grants. At the same time, space has become the playground for billionaires – or has it?
Money and Space – Space and Money
In this discussion, Troy, who heads up Moonshot Space, a company that grows technology businesses and helps space companies succeed, provides a raw, first-hand perspective on the experience of raising funding in a sector that seems to be awash with investment, but in which the distribution of that funding remains uneven.
Annie and Troy problematise the concept of a space industry, examining the ways in which funding and policy models define ‘space companies’, and the impact that such definitions have on start-ups and the sector as a whole. Instead, Troy proposes that we talk instead about the ‘Space Economy’, which includes law, medicine, data and other services, as well as traditional rockets, satellites, and tech.
Troy also describes his experiences working within government grant structures, and why private investment might be a better option for most companies. Annie weighs in with a discussion on value: what return on ‘investment’ is an investor looking for from space? Is it enough to think in terms of financial return, or do investors think of ‘value’ more broadly? What impact might the rise in private space stations have on space from a sustainability, security, and sociological perspective? Are we entering a post-neoliberal era, and if so, what is the role of government and regulation in space?
All this and more from Space Café Australia.
This Space Café Australia was held on 16th December 2021.