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Space and Innovation

image of Space and Innovation

After decades of innovation, satellites now play a discrete but pivotal role in the efficient functioning of modern societies and their economic development. This publication provides the findings from a OECD Space Forum project on the state of innovation in the space sector, with a view to examine how space innovation may impact the larger economy. New analysis and indicators contribute to answering some of the following questions: is the space sector still a driver for innovation in the 21st century? What are the determinants for an innovative space sector? And what are the policy responses to encourage and harness better space-related innovation?

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Executive summary

Known for its high technology dimensions, the space sector is currently experiencing an innovation-driven paradigm shift, both from within and outside of the space domain. “New space”, “small satellites for all”, “broadband everywhere”, “space tourism” represent some of these most recent evolutions. But one particular dynamic and transformative factor is the (r)evolution in downstream space applications, attracting new governmental and commercial entrants at both ends of the space sector’s value chains (from satellite and rocket manufacturing to satellite services). The availability of satellite positioning, navigation and timing signals, telecommunications connections in isolated locations and on mobile platforms (smartphones, ships at sea, aircrafts) and the growing access to satellite imagery combined with advances in miniaturisation, computer processing power and analytics are leading to new products and services, as entrepreneurs begin to seize satellite signals and data to create new businesses (e.g. the Pokemon Go application uses satellite positioning).

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