The ultimate legacy

11th Jan, 2019

Legacy – the most coveted aspect of hosting any conference and highly prized by all destinations. On 12 December, the Premier of South Australia in a joint announcement with the Australian Prime Minister announced Adelaide would be the home of Australia’s new A$41m Space Agency and in doing so, created one of, if not the largest legacies of any Australian business event.    

The 2017 International Astronautical Congress (IAC) with 4500 delegates remains the largest business event won by the Adelaide Convention Bureau and Team Adelaide for South Australia.  From the outset of the  decade long process in bidding, losing, re-bidding and winning the highly prestigious event, the goal of the  local IAC committee members from the Space Industry Association of Australia was to utilise the event to ignite discussion and enthusiasm at a federal government level with the aim of creating an Australian Space Agency. Their goal was realised on 25 September 2017 at the opening ceremony of the 5-day event with the announcement that the Government would indeed open a National Space Agency -  and thus began a fierce bidding process by most Australian states to house the agency’s permanent headquarters.

The Australian Space Agency location announcement is the pinnacle of a series of legacies eventuating from the IAC 2017.  It will be housed, along with similarly aligned businesses, innovators and organisations, in the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site (now known as Lot Fourteen Innovation Hub) in the eastern end of the CBD – just walking distance or a free tram ride from the Adelaide Convention Centre and the BioMed City including the new hospital all located the West End of the city.

Set to open in 2019, the Agency will employ 20 people and will regulate, licence and assess space-related activities conducted by private industry. It gives Australia a new seat at the table in the regulation of space under international law, will include a mission control centre and will be responsible for facilitating industry growth. The Federal Government hopes that the agency will help coordinate Australia’s space industry to create 20,000 new jobs and triple its current A$4bn worth to A$12bn by 2030.

Additionally, the Federal Government announced in November 2018 that Australia’s space and machine learning industries would receive A$35 million in funding from its national science agency in another positive development for Australia’s small but growing space sector built on the momentum generated following the hosting of the IAC in September 2017.   

Of the A$35m, Space Technology will receive A$16m to identify and develop the science and find new areas for Australian industry to work in. A$19m will target AI-driven solutions for areas including food security and quality, health and wellbeing, sustainable energy and resources, resilient and valuable environments, and Australian and regional security.

This followed the announcement that Lockheed Martin Australia has become the first Foundation Partner with the University of Adelaide’s new Australian Institute for Machine Learning in South Australia. The strategic partnership will deliver world-leading machine learning research for national security, the space industry, business, and the broader community. The University of Adelaide’s new Australian Institute for Machine Learning will be also be based at the Lot Fourteen Innovation Hub. 

South Australia has long played an integral role in the nation’s space activity with the nation’s first satellite launched from Woomera in the state’s outback some 50 years ago. Currently, it is home to major Tier 1 defence companies and about 60 companies currently working in space-related industries, employing about 800 people (in SA).   

Damien Kitto, CEO Adelaide Convention Bureau, said: "The Space Agency location announcement truly is the ultimate legacy following the hosting the IAC and it presents a huge opportunity for the Adelaide Convention Bureau.  As with medical and health-based events following the massive investment in infrastructure in the BioMed City, this development has opened the doors to the Bureau now having a huge asset to utilise when seeking to attract space and related industry events to Adelaide."

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