Accepted Paper:

Innovation meets Outer Space: transforming networks, organisations and people  


Matjaz Vidmar (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

The "New Space" era is noted for a paradigm shift in the Space Science, Exploration and Industry. This paper examines how this "inward and outward encounter with Outer Space" affects innovation networks, SMEs and, finally, people.

Paper long abstract:

Space science, exploration and industry is said to be in a transition from state and corporate monopolies towards "New Space", an altogether more democratised and de-centralised enterprise based on academic research and small-to-medium-size enterprises (SME). This innovativeness is built upon a significant change in the Space industry itself, on one hand, by cheapening and miniaturisation of space technology, and on the other hand, by an increasing openness and accessibility of public space data. Furthermore, these developments are expanding into "new" countries and regions, for example, Scotland in particular is becoming widely known as a "New Space hub", with leading upstream and downstream New Space companies emerging over the past ten years.

The findings of my research are showing that the New Space industry has indeed brought about a new innovation paradigm, with a loosely co-joined vertical value chain being integrated in a dynamic (eco)system of players, which are more agile to respond to new customers and markets and who have largely adapted the innovation process to address these new opportunities. Interestingly, the New Space firms' partners are far more concentrated in public and academic sector.

In order to achieve this, the SMEs have had to adapt their organisational structure by simultaneously unpicking their hierarchical structure as well as formalise their innovation process. This paper is outlining preliminary findings from an in-depth study based on a two-fold enquiry into the innovation networks and the direct effect they have on new product development in Scottish Space Sector firms, specifically SMEs.

Panel A21
Outward and inward encounters: STS meets Outer Space