Denham Sadler
September 18, 2018

Victoria makes space agency bid

Space Race

Victoria makes space agency bid

Ben Carroll: Putting Victoria's best foot forward in the race for a space agency

The Victorian government has officially made its bid to host the Australian Space Agency, putting an emphasis on its advanced manufacturing and tech credentials.

The state flagged its intention to heavily lobby to play host to the headquarters in June, a month before the Australian Space Agency opened its doors under interim CEO Megan Clark.

State government ministers have since met with former innovation minister Michaelia Cash and Dr Clark, and the government has now released a research paper that aims to prove why it is the best location for the agency.

The Australian Space Agency was launched in July, with its first task being to decide where it should be permanently based. It will make this decision by the end of the year.

Nearly every state and territory has thrown their hat in the ring, with some committing significant funding to the cause.

Victoria’s bid is all about job creation, and is based on the state’s credentials in advanced manufacturing, research and technology.

“Our bid for the Australian Space Agency is all about Victorian jobs and the future of the economy. We’re already a leader in aerospace research and development – which makes us an obvious choice to help coordinate national and international collaboration on space,” Industry and Employment Minister Ben Carroll said.

The Victoria: The Place for Space paper, released by the state government over the weekend, lists how it would promote collaboration and talent in the state, its ability to attract large tech companies, and Victoria’s world-class R&D education facilities – as well as its existing space ecosystem.

“Victoria has the expertise, the skills and the industry capability to drive and realise the vision of Australia’s new space agency,” Mr Carroll said.

“Victoria has the strong capabilities in data, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, technical services, research and development, and design and engineering,” he said.

“This is backed by our world-class educational institutions and skilled workforce. Victoria is ready to be a part of a national effort to contribute to Australia’s new space agency.”

The paper points to the University of Melbourne’s partnership with Lockheed Martin and La Trobe University’s with the German Space Agency, along with the FrontierSI initiative, headquartered in Melbourne since 2003.

“Victoria actively encourages and supports a startup culture and is inspiring our future workforce through unique education experiences, focused on space,” the paper said.

“Victoria has long been a place for collaboration and innovation and offers a supportive environment where industry, research and education sectors are integrated, not only with each other, but also with a large number of national and international partners.”

Victoria’s pitch is similar to its neighbour, the New South Wales government, with a focus on connections with the public sector and private industry.

Other states, including South Australia and Western Australia, have instead focused their bids on their proximity to potential launch sites and existing space sectors.

The Space Agency is an “incremental step in the maturation of what is a vibrant and exciting space industry in Australia”, the Victorian government paper said.

“It presents the opportunity for dedicated coordination and advocacy in a way as yet unrealised within the country’s space sector.

“It provides Australia with a chance to identify and lever points of alignment and opportunity between our industries, among our institutions and across the borders of our states and territories such that we can make the most of our unique geography, our finite resources and the deep potential of our people,” the paper said.

“Victoria is ready. It can make Australia’s industry grow. The best place for the Australian Space Agency is the place where all facets of our country’s space potential can be understood, leveraged, connected and advocated for. It’s where cooperation and innovation are embedded in the way that things are done.

“Space, though, is not linear – and nor is Victoria’s view on the role that we can play in Australia’s endeavours in space. For Victoria, the establishment of the Australian Space Agency is a new chapter in what is already an exciting story for our nation.

The NSW government also recently launched its own bid for the agency, led by Australian astronaut Paul Scully-Power.

This month’s South Australian budget included $1 million over four years to establish an Australian Space Innovation Precinct at its new innovation hub, which it said is the “perfect location to house the Australian Space Agency”.

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