The socio-economic impact of space activities

The socio-economic impact of space activities [Oct/2019]

Space activities and capabilities fuel industrial competitiveness, economic growth and innovation and are today essential to the European economy, reaching well beyond the aerospace sector.

As space becomes more integrated into the daily lives of citizens, the impact of space activities on economy and society is growing stronger and reaching further.

With an investment worth a movie ticket per citizen per year, ESA is delivering on some of the greatest challenges in science and technology and fostering European scientific excellence, building on 50 years of experience and preparing for the future decades.

In addition, ESA’s spending in industry and academia ripple throughout the European economy, supporting critical industries, creating new businesses and jobs, and attracting students to science and engineering.

Every euro invested in ESA programmes has a significant impact on the European economy, with up to 4 euros created in the broader economy. Investing in ESA programmes also generates significant governmental revenues: up to 90% of the funding of ESA programmes are returned to governments as income tax, taxes on products (including value added tax) and social security contributions.

The economic impact of space fares very well when compared to other key industrial sectors, which demonstrates the strong performance of the space industry in creating additional value for the European economy. A key reason for this high impact comes from the fact that the European space industry covers the full value chain. In addition, the European public funding for space is mostly spent in the domestic industry.

The Member States’ investments in ESA programmes generate a succession of economic impacts, i.e. direct, indirect, and induced ones, from the economic impact of manufacturing and launching space systems to the value created in the wider economy. Space infrastructure also delivers essential public services and is an enabler of other domains. Additional value is therefore generated by revenues that are uniquely supported by space systems. In addition, ESA programmes generate strategic impacts. For instance, they foster European leadership and promote international cooperation. They also produce scientific and technological benefits well beyond the programmes’ objectives, as well as numerous societal impacts, including attracting students to science and engineering.

In the context of the preparation of the Council meetings at Ministerial level, ESA contracts out socio-economic impact assessments now on almost all of its domains of activity, demonstrating the emphasis given to the socio-economic benefits of space activities and to their independent evaluation.

It is important to note that there is no standard approach to assess the socio-economic impacts of space programmes in general and even more so to assess the impacts of all ESA programmes. The methodology of all the assessments conducted is harmonised to the extent possible, in line with recognised standards, but also tailored to the mandate and strategic objectives of the programmes and respective stakeholders’ interests. The specificities of the programmes imply differences in the scope and parameters of the impact assessments, be it the timeframe for the analysis, the availability of underlying data and data sources or an emphasis on certain types of impacts. For that reason, the results of the various assessments are independent for each study and a direct comparison between the results is only possible to a very limited extent.

ESA invests in technologies and discoveries for the future, and in the process, delivers social and economic impacts that benefit Europe today. No single metric can capture the returns from ESA’s activities, as their many dimensions and benefits extends far beyond space.

ESA invests in technology and the European industry in all important areas to foster competitiveness: R&D, technology, manufacturing. This investment generates know-how, new markets, spin-offs and technology transfers, improving the daily life of European citizens.

ESA stimulates innovation and business growth. Each euro invested in ESA programmes attracts up to 2.8 euros of additional investment from third parties. Investing in ESA programmes generates significant commercial revenues for European industry and operators.

ESA promotes collaboration and supports international relations strengthening European and Member States’ space diplomacy through collaborative research and development with international partners, supporting the European industry on the export markets, fostering a strong, innovative economy, and advancing international order that promotes peace and security.

ESA inspires people and young generations as a valued source of scientific data and knowledge, reaching out to scholars, students and teachers, as well as to the public through social networks and international public events.

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