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Isle Of Man Space Sector Outperforming Peers

by Jason Gorringe,, London

16 November 2012

US-based aerospace consultancy Futron Corporation, has released a new report updating progress made by the Isle of Man's niche aerospace sector since February 2011.

Futron's latest research comes as an update to an earlier report provided for the government last year to assist in the development of a strategic direction for the industry.

Based on qualitative and quantitative research, the report found that the Isle of Man was the only jurisdiction that had not seen any negative changes to its competitive position during the period October 2010 to October 2012.

The report assessed the Isle of Man's industry against competing jurisdictions such as Bermuda, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Singapore, Jersey, Guernsey and the United Kingdom, with regard to a number of quantitative indicators, which measure the growth of the industry in terms of economic activity, the number of companies active, human capital development (education programs, and the presence of research institutes), and global visibility, including involvement in conferences and award ceremonies and promotional activity on social media platforms.

The report states: "The first edition of this study identified that, compared with its peers, the Isle of Man consistently “punches above its weight” in the impact of its space sector activities. Our October 2012 findings indicate the Isle of Man has maintained, and strengthened, its competitive position in the space sector vis-a-vis its competitors. The [Isle of Man] continues to drive forward as a niche innovator in the global space sector."

Of particular note, the number of companies engaged in the aerospace sector in the Isle of Man grew from 25 in October 2010, to 33 in October 2012, a growth rate only bettered by Bermuda which saw the addition of four new companies over the period to 11 in total. Jurisdictions which share the Isle of Man industry's size saw stagnant growth or a decline in the number of companies active. As of October 2012, 293 companies were active in the aerospace sector in the United Kingdom (down from 302 in October 2010); in Hong Kong there were 27 active companies (unchanged); and in Singapore 26 (-1). Jersey and Guernsey added their first aerospace companies during the period, and Gibraltar continued to host two aerospace entities.

The report highlighted that: "The competitive advantage the Isle of Man enjoys against its peers derives from a unique business model the Manx government has adopted in developing the space sector in the island. The Isle of Man has developed a distinctive approach to involvement in the space industry. Rather than operating a government space program, the Manx government focuses on providing a regulatory level playing field while cooperating with industry to provide financial, legal, and orbital slot filing assistance as well as strategic support services for telecommunications, aerospace, banking, and manufacturing companies within the international space industry."

The report added that: "This approach is operationalized through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with a private company - ManSat Ltd. and complemented by a tax regime that provides for a zero corporate income tax rate for space companies. The PPP operates in two primary areas: orbital slot preparation and marketing and industry development."

The Isle of Man has made attracting satellite operators to file their orbital slots through the island a key tenet of the development of its space sector. This is a highly competitive area of activity and a relatively small number of satellite operators make International Telecommunication Union (ITU) applications through jurisdictions other than their home jurisdiction. Of the jurisdictions studied, the Isle of Man trails only the United Kingdom in terms of the number of commercial communications satellites registered. Communications satellites for which the launch was registered through the Isle of Man represent 22.7% of the satellites carried on the official UK Registry of Space Objects, despite no satellite operators being headquartered in the jurisdiction.

Notable achievements for the Manx space industry include the following:

  • In October of 2011, ViaSat-1, the first satellite to use a Manx-licensed orbital slot, was successfully launched and brought into use serving the North American market;
  • During summer 2012 NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) joined the Isle of Man-based Space Data Association - the cooperative organization of satellite operators aiming to reduce the risk of orbital collision and interference between satellites;
  • Laser optics components manufactured by a Manx company landed on Mars as a key component of the scientific instrument package on the Curiosity rover; and,
  • Isle of Man-based Odyssey Moon announced a partnership with NSL Satellites and Nanoracks to place experiments on the International Space Station, and followed through with the current operation of those experiments on the International Space Station.

Welcoming the findings of the latest Futron report, Tim Craine, Director of Business Development, Department of Economic Development, said: "The latest findings from the Futron study highlight the continued growth and success of the Isle of Man's space sector over the last 18 months. This success is testament to the unique approach we take focusing on the public/private partnership between government and industry. Since the last Futron study carried out in February 2011, there has been a number of exciting developments. Looking ahead we hope to continue innovating in the sector and strengthening our competitive position through attracting new business to the island and widening the scope of activity."

TAGS: Isle of Man | tax | business | banking | aviation | international financial centres (IFC) | offshore | manufacturing

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