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Growth outlook for space enterprises: turnover, exports and employment on the rise

Publication date 27.3.2024 15.16
News item

The New Space Economy has become one of the most promising sectors, offering new opportunities for both small and medium-sized enterprises and large global companies. Based on Business Finland's customer data, more than 200 companies have been identified as potential actors in the value chain of space technology and satellite services.

The offering of the Finnish space sector has been summarised in the publication “Finnish New Space Economy Landscape”. The companies participating in the New Space Economy program (2018-2022) have focused on innovative solutions, such as small satellites, commercial space services and sustainable research and education.

These 70 enterprises (*) presented generated a total turnover of EUR 4.33 billion, of which EUR 3.07 billion came from exports and employed 12,794 persons in 2022. For the sake of comparison, the turnover of the same enterprise group was EUR 3.24 billion in 2018 and exports EUR 2.22 billion, employing 10,510 persons. This means that turnover grew by 34%, exports by 38% and jobs by 22% during the period under review.

To monitor the development of the sector, Business Finland piloted an online survey (**) that confirmed that SME’s growth is based on space activities and that companies see the markets developing positively in the coming years. In 2022, the total space turnover of the 30 companies that responded to the survey was estimated at EUR 150 million and exports at EUR 100 million. Enterprises employed a total of 808 people in their space business.

Companies that develop technology and provide satellite services with focus on space business, have experienced significant growth. For example, Iceye Oy, Kuva Space Oy and ReOrbit Oy have multiplied their turnover, exports and number of employees during the reference period.

International growth requires bold investments and world-class competences from companies. The growth of early-stage companies is supported by increased private sector capital financing. Finland has become one of Europe's most important investment targets for New Space business. Total of 34 new companies have been established during the five-year review period, many of which have utilised the European Space Agency's Business incubator (ESA BIC Finland).

During this period, also traditional space technology companies and industries utilizing space applications have grown through business acquisitions, have strengthened their service offering and market share. Demand for satellite data and secure telecommunications solutions has increased their international trade. Typically, the applied business of satellite services is much larger in volume than technology design and construction in space.

The companies that responded to the survey forecast that their company's turnover, exports and employment as well as R&D inputs and investments would increase over the next three years. Market potential was identified especially in satellite technologies and information services in the markets of security, defence and climate change mitigation. The recruitment of experienced space sector experts and the availability of capital financing were identified as potential challenges.

The national space strategy published in 2018, “Finland 2025 – The world’s most attractive and agile space business environment which benefits all companies operating here”, set an ambitious goal to increase the role of Finnish space companies in international cooperation and markets, which can be considered to have been achieved in the light of the figures described above.

Kimmo Kanto, Senior Director, Business Finland

(*) Nokia figures filtered out.
(**) The impact of Finnish space sector companies on the economy was assessed with an online survey carried out by Business Finland at the end of 2023. As part of monitoring the objectives of the national space strategy, we wanted to understand how public funding for research and development in the space sector and supporting internationalisation promotes the competitiveness of Finnish industry, the well-being of society and security. The results of the study will be used in the updating of the national space strategy in spring 2024.