Isle of Man At The Forefront In Hunt For Space Talent

By | October 30, 2007 | Feature

[10-30-07 – Satellite News] Finding the next generation of executives and talent is one of the key challenges facing the space industry, and the Isle of Man is set to play a pivotal role in the space education arena.
The International Space University (ISU), located at the International Business School on the Isle of Man, has launched the International Institute of Space Commerce (IISC) with the intention of making it the world’s leading authority on space commerce.

"We want the Institute have an influence in the thinking, the writing, the critical ideas that will shape the creation of sound commercial ventures involving space," Michael Simpson, president of the ISU, said. "When you look at the commercial side you are looking at the extent in which we become the go-to organization for large companies with transition issues when they want new analysis as well as for start-up companies who are seeking help.”

Satellite News
spoke with Simpson and Chris Stott, CEO of ManSat, about the significance of placing the IISC in the Isle of Man and the hopes and expectations for the first year.

Michael Simpson, President, ISU

Chris Stott, CEO, ManSat

Satellite News: What is the significance of locating the IISC in the Isle of Man?

Stott: The founding of the Institute represents the next stage in the growth and evolution of the Isle of Man in space. It was a next logical step for us to give something back to the industry and to do our part in working together to build its future together. It’s what we do on the Isle of Man; we give back and we invest in the future. The Institute is a perfect example of such investment.

Simpson:
I think the announcement is a major one in terms of adding the commercial aspects of space to the education of students and practioners who will increasingly become part of the leadership of the space sector. There has been a tendency for space education to be focused on engineering and hardware. But increasingly interesting things are happening on all levels in commercial activities — whether entrepreneurial or in more established industries. We want to be providing an increasing source of investigation, insight, research and opportunities to the market. The space market is only going to get bigger. The first year we plan to have at least one significant gathering of major players in the space commerce sector.

Satellite News: What does it mean to the Isle of Man from an economic perspective to have the Space Institute based there?

Stott: I believe the island has much to offer the space industry and having the Institute based on the island grants us a whole new opportunity to add value and focused input to the broader discussion of economics and space. On the island we’re focused on the daily bottom line of lowering costs and increasing profits, but that doesn’t mean we don’t look ahead and think to the future and seek proactive solutions to the issues we see facing the industry. The Institute gives us a platform to make this an inclusive and international discussion drawing together the very best the industry and the world of economics has to work on this.

Simpson:
The Isle of Man has done so many things in so many commercial areas. These are exactly the skills that we want to see translate into the space sector. We need that kind of expertise. We are looking for ways in which that knowledge can be acquired in the space sector. Hopefully, we can also find new opportunities so we can reciprocate.

Satellite News: Has there been a change in what the industry believes is needed in terms of space education?

Stott: I think so. The creation of a new Institute of Space Commerce is a reflection of the need within the industry. The Isle of Man is just the right place for this as well. The space industry has gone from just being about engineering and science to financial engineering and commerce and looking at the revenues that can be generated by an asset. In the last couple of years, as the industry has matured, this has become more relevant. It is about profit. This is why the Isle of Man is the perfect location because this is exactly what we are looking to do.

Simpson:
CEOs in the space sector not only have to have an understanding of the engineering and technical aspects but also know the business plan. The International Institute of Space Commerce will enable people, CEOs and those who want to be [CEOs] to explore all of those different pieces together. CEOs have to ask just as tough questions to the financial and marketing people as they do of the engineering teams. That will separate the really great businesses in the future from the ones that just have great ideas.

Satellite News: Will a commercial focus widen the range of possible students that may take courses at the Institute?

Stott: One of the key reasons the island has built its relationship with ISU is that ISU represents the only graduate school in the world where the business of space is discussed in an international, interdiscliplinary and intercultural setting. Space engineering and science are taught at many schools, but ISU is the only school that teaches space business

Simpson: Many engineers are expressing interest in learning the business side of space. One way we work to maintain quality control is to keep in touch with your market, both students and employers. Both sectors have been knocking on the door and telling us that they wanted us to take a more specific view of the commercial side of space. It was out of this dialogue that we evolved the Master of Space Management four years ago. We are also hearing increasing interest in the more entrepreneurial aspects of space [such as] start-up aspects, regional aspects of operations ,and the Institute is a response. We are learning from the people we have taught.

Satellite News: When we going to have that first major success story in terms of a high profile CEO having studied at the Isle of Man?

Simpson: It will probably be 10 to 15 years before we have that cachet. That will be useful. It will be useful to show how the educational process has worked. Testimonies are very important. We have done things that were thought impossible through the International Space University. We have had visits to the astronaut training center in Beijing. Part of that is because we have some marquee students that have made the ministerial level in China. Some people have kicked down doors for us. We have had a visit from the president of India. That was helped by ISU graduates who could get the message out that we were worth the investment. I think we will have marquee students from the Institute within a realistic timeframe as well.

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