SATCAN TOWN HALL

On April 9, 2020, at 11:00am (Eastern Time), Iain Christie moderated an online, virtual town hall, where space industry professionals and stakeholders had a candid discussion about the current and future state of the space industry in the challenging era of COVID-19.

The below represents a summary of discussions that took place at the Canadian Space Town Hall. It
was noted during the meeting that the host and its guests would adhere to Chatham House Rules and
therefore none of the notes below are attributed to the speakers. You can also view our PowerPoint presentation

and our stakeholder survey.


Many participants expressed thanks to SatCan for hosting the Town Hall, stating it was much needed
and helpful to, once again, reunite with the community.

STATUS OF COMPANIES

  • Some SME companies reported they are doing well.

  • There have been adjustment how all companies are working, but no downturn thus far.

  • Most are fine in the near term but will need assistance in the long term.

  • There are concerns about future contracts and keeping those contracts on schedule.

  • Some companies are having difficulty supporting global projects that continue to have aggressive timing.

  • Impacts on other sectors, which anchor revenue for some companies, have created a downturn in R & D and commercial space activity.

  • For companies that work in the secular (non-space) technology sector and the downstream space markets, there has been little impact.

  • Those with ground stations in the North continue to serve seeing little impact.

  • Companies are depending on previously scheduled government programs and procurements to keep to schedule.  There was significant concern that if those efforts slip, the outlook for many will take a significant turn for the worse.

 

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

  • There have been difficulties arranging demonstrations and business development die to the cancellation of conferences and meetings. 

  • It was noted that if conference and network activities do not restart in the near term, a strong reduction of business will be seen in 6-12 months.

 

FINANCE & ACCOUNTING

  • Governments postponement of tax filings has created difficulty for those that rely on SR&ED credits.

  • For some cashflow is fine now, but organizations foresee issues in the next 4-8 months.

  • Some start-ups are in a holding pattern as they are finding it difficult to find venture capital or any other investment, causing them to dip into their runway of funds.

  • For not-for-profits, sponsorships have been difficult and existing sponsorships/supports have been retracted until there is more certainty on the outcome of the crisis.

  • Start-ups and SME’s, that have been working on investment/investors, have found that there is little appetite to continue discussions and investing has been put on hold.

 

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

  • The smaller companies have found it difficult to navigate the support programs.

  • Organizations all found the programs and the supports being offered to individuals and business very difficult to understand, if they are eligible or not. 

 

SPACE SECTOR ADDED VALUE

  • There are several companies, large and small, that have already retooled at least part of their facilities to make more PPE.

  • Some companies would find it useful, as an intermediary measure, to pivot to COVID-19 manufacturing.

  • Commendations were made to all IT support, in all firms, that have supported remote workers.

 

YOUNG PROFESSIONALS/STUDENTS

  • This crisis is hitting students hard where they cannot work on their projects and cannot gain much needed experience. 

  • A suggestion was made to pivot toward providing educational programs and content to support students.

  • Organization were encouraged to hire or involve students who have just graduated in commercial, research and scientific activity.

 

GOVERNMENT 

  • The public sector continues to work outside the norm to keep the sector moving. 

  • The industry was encouraged to reach out their representatives to provide information on the health of their company and business pipeline.

  • Clients of Government departments and programs may rely on the government to help guide them through the stimulus and other bespoke programs available.

  • Those in Government departments would be interested in any input for future activities and would like to learn more about methods and opportunities to connect with the space community.

 

RESOURCES

  • Some suggestions for creating opportunities for the community to meet online were discussed to foster networking and collaboration.

  • A discussion of Lunar Gateway took place. Of particular concern is Its impact on Canada since it has been taken off the critical path while NASA is still pushing for lunar landing funding. It was noted that a discussion about the Lunar Gateway could be hosted by SatCan.

  • One of the participants suggested "Managing the Crisis you Tried to Prevent". There are some universal lessons/suggestions for most any crisis - including now.

© Satellite Canada Innovation Network 2020

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