It’s gotten to the point now where a handful of angel investors can put a space company on the map. But the same changes that have made the industry accessible have made it increasingly complex to track its trends. By default, all space startups are exciting, but companies vary widely in risk, capital intensity and maturity. Here’s what you need to know about the four main areas of the new space economy.
Launch: playground of billionaires and forward thinkers
Perhaps simply the most exciting industry to be a part of today, orbital launch service has gone from a government-funded niche dominated by a handful of primes to a vibrant, growing community serving insatiable demand.
There’s a good reason why it was dominated for so long by the likes of ULA, whose Delta rockets took up a huge majority of missions for decades. The barrier to entry for launch is huge.
As such there are three ways to enter the sector: brute force, stealth, and novelty.
Brute force is how SpaceX and Blue Origin have managed to accomplish what they have. With billions in investment from people who don’t actually care whether money is made in the short term (or with Bezos, even in the long term), they can perform the research and engineering necessary to make a full-scale launch platform. Few of these can ever really exist, and participation is limited when they do. Fortunately we all reap the benefits when billionaires compete for space superiority.
Stealth, perhaps better described as smart positioning, is where you’ll find Rocket Lab. This New Zealand-based company didn’t appear out of nowhere — look at its timeline and you’ll see scaled-down tests being conducted more than a decade ago. But what founder Peter Beck and his crew did was anticipate the market and work doggedly towards a specific solution.
Rocket Lab is focused on small payloads, delivered with short turnaround time. This avoids the trouble of competing against billionaires and decades-old space dynasties because, really, this market didn’t exist until very recently.
“Responsive space, or launch on demand, is going to be increasingly important,” Beck said. “All satellites are vulnerable, be it from natural, accidental, or deliberate actions. As we see the growth and aging of small sat constellations, the need for replenishment will increase, leading to demand for single spacecraft to unique orbits. The ability to deploy new satellites to precise orbits in a matter of hours, not months or years, is critical to government and commercial satellite operators alike.”
Investing in Rocket Lab early on would have seemed unexciting as for year after year they made measured progress but took on no cargo and made no money. Patience is the primary virtue here. But investors with foresight are looking back now on the company’s many successful launches and bright future and marveling that they ever doubted it.
The third category of launch is novelty: entirely new launch techniques like SpinLaunch or Leo Aerospace. The term may not inspire confidence, and that’s deliberate. Companies taking this approach are high-risk, high-reward propositions that often need serious funding before they can even prove the basic physical possibility of their launch technique. That’s not an investment everyone is comfortable making.
On the other hand, these are companies that, should they prove viable, may upend and collect a significant portion of the new and growing launch market. Here patience is not so much required as extra diligence and outside expertise to help separate the wheat from the chaff. Something like SpinLaunch may sound outlandish at first, but the Saturn V rocket still seems outlandish now, decades after it was built. Leaving the confines of established methods is how we move forward — but investors should be careful they don’t end up just blasting their cash into orbit.
Report: Women, diversity are key to rebuilding Canada's economy – Wealth Professional
Climbing the ladder
Women and diverse groups are also facing struggles to climb the corporate ladder to senior leadership roles.
“While we are making some progress with women on corporate Boards, reported at 25.3% of directors, the study highlights this doesn’t hold true for racialized women, reported at just 1.2% of directors,” said Zabeen Hirji, Executive Advisor, Future of Work, Deloitte. “White women out-numbering racialized women on corporate boards in Toronto by 12 to 1. The talent is there, it is policies and practices that need to evolve. We need to cast a wider net.”
The challenges are particularly evident in science and technology sectors (STEM).
Occupations within some of the high-growth and high-income sectors reveal the disparity of women trying to advance in STEM fields, generally filling lower-level jobs compared to their higher-level male counterparts.
However, women have made inroads into highly paid professions such as medicine and law.
Gautam Adani debunks GDP rhetoric, says India will be 2nd largest economy by 2050 – Deccan Herald
Billionaire Gautam Adani has debunked the narrow fixation on GDP numbers, saying fundamentals are intact and India will be the second-largest economy by 2050 and has an edge over global peers in terms of business opportunities.
Speaking at the JP Morgan India Summit – Future in Focus, the Adani Group chairman said the AatmaNirbhar Bharat programme will be a game-changer.
“I will state without any hesitation – that – in my view – over the next three decades, India is the world’s greatest business opportunity,” he said.
India’s geostrategic position and massive market size give it an edge over its global peers amid the fundamental political realignment of nations taking shape, he said adding opportunities for India are likely to accelerate on the other side of the pandemic.
“For the sake of the fans of the GDP metric, let’s look at some statistics. The global GDP in 1990 was $38 trillion. Today, 30 years later, this number is $90 trillion. Projecting for another 30 years, in 2050 the global GDP is expected to be about $170 trillion with India becoming the second-largest economy in the world,” he said.
The Indian economy shrank by a record 23.9 per cent in the April-June quarter because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown that followed. The economy is projected to contract for the first time in four decades, in the full year to March 2021.
But Adani said short-term setbacks due to a global crisis cannot be used to write off the country as its fundamentals remain intact.
“The current focus on standardised GDP predictions as against truly understanding what a nation could look like over a decade has unfortunately become one of the primary elements for measuring the health of an economy. In my view, patience and long-term planning and most importantly, an alignment with the government’s business agenda are what creates the greatest value,” he said.
Speaking of challenges holding back India, Adani said that India needs $1.5 to 2 trillion of capital over the next decade but despite key structural reforms such as the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund and Credit Enhancement Fund, capital structure challenges, and lack of empowered and independent regulators remain bottlenecks to nation-building and investment opportunities.
The first generation entrepreneur, who built India’s biggest infrastructure group with interests spanning from seaports to airports and energy, coaxed the audience to look at opportunities through his ‘optimist’ lenses.
“As an entrepreneur, I am an optimist, and therefore the lenses through which I see opportunities may be different than some of yours. I recognise that the view that you cannot build a long-term future on short-term thinking, may not be in alignment with the objectives of certain priorities of the investment community,” he said.
He told the forum to stop viewing all nations through old Western growth metrics.
“Democracy cannot take a cookie-cutter approach and we should accept that different nations will have their own flavour of democracy and capitalism.”
Stating that the AatmaNirbhar Bharat or self-reliant India programme will be a game-changer, he said India building a crumbling supply chain infrastructure that stood exposed to Covid-19, as also a strong head start in digital transformation will help re-build the economy.
India's central bank to keep rates on hold, provide economic forecasts – The Journal Pioneer
By Swati Bhat
MUMBAI (Reuters) – The Reserve Bank of India is expected to keep key rates unchanged this week, but may for the first time since February provide guidance on how the economy is performing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
All 66 respondents in a Reuters poll expect the repo rate to remain unchanged at 4.0% after its policy review on Thursday, and a large majority see no cuts until the January-March quarter. The RBI will then likely stay on hold until the end of 2021.
The central bank must manage high retail inflation while keeping policy accommodative to support an economy which nosedived 23.9% last quarter, the weakest performance on record.
It has so far slashed rates by 115 basis points in response to the COVID-19 pandemic since late March.
“India’s inflation-constrained central bank is unlikely to deliver a rate cut, and we expect all policy rates to stay unchanged,” said Rahul Bajoria, economist with Barclays adding that the RBI will however provide economic projections.
India is gradually reopening its economy from a lockdown but economic activity remains depressed as coronavirus cases top six million, the second-highest globally.
The South Asian country was already facing a cyclical downturn before the pandemic struck and is now expected to mark its first full-year contraction since 1979 this year as millions are left unemployed in the world’s second-most populous country.
The RBI has so far refrained from providing any forecasts on growth or inflation due to the heightened uncertainty and risk of projections having to be revised frequently.
However, the central bank is required by law to provide economic forecasts once every six months.
“Data projections from the central bank will be critical, as it would lay out the RBI’s assessment of the extent of the current slowdown and the medium-term implications of the current crisis,” Bajoria said.
The RBI has maintained that it sees the current rise in inflation as transitional and expects to see prices come down, giving it room to reduce rates to support growth.
August inflation, at 6.69%, held above the top end of the RBI’s medium-term target range of 2-6% for the fifth consecutive month amid supply disruptions.
(Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
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