There is a galaxy of opportunity in commercial space innovation, spanning multiple sectors across accessing, operating in, and connecting to space. And private enterprise-driven space commercialisation is expected to produce technology breakthroughs to solve challenges for life in space, as well as here on Earth. 

One aspect of this – the Earth Observation (EO) market, is forecast to be a US$4.8 billion market by 2030. EO refers to the use of remote sensing technologies to monitor land, marine (seas, rivers, lakes) and atmosphere – which is very relevant to today’s global challenges. Beyond building EO satellites, opportunities in this field are rapidly growing, as the cost of launching satellites continues to decrease, access to data increases. Sectors such as agriculture, mining and transport are already becoming more reliant on EO data and satellite communications. The need for this data is likely to increase further as extreme weather events require a pre-emptive response, and artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) facilitates technology development like precision agriculture. 

Key points

  • Opportunities are endless in commercial space innovation as the market continues to grow rapidly.
  • A range of new technologies and innovation are developing, such as digital twins, edge computing and new ways to generate sustainable energy.
  • Cross sector collaboration will be crucial to help propel growth and success in the space industry.
  • KPMG Australia and Stone & Chalk have announced the second cohort of the Future Technology Program – five game-changing space startups working on technology and data.

Space technology and innovation

As the downstream market for space technology transitions from an experimental endeavour to enable an everyday commercial use, the number of spacecrafts in use is set to grow more than tenfold by 2030. This means, being able to manage the associated risks will become even more essential. 

Digital twins are one way to rigorously test and validate a spacecraft’s design and performance before it’s even built - potential issues can be addressed before they become problems in the field. Digital twin technology can also be used to simulate a spacecraft’s environment and predict how it will perform under different conditions, allowing for more accurate design and better performance in the long run.

Digital twin technology can also be used to monitor and maintain a spacecraft in real-time, making adjustments as needed, in conjunction with AI and ML to optimise its performance. This means the digital twin can be used to identify patterns and make predictions about the spacecraft’s behaviour, helping improve efficiency, extend its lifespan and reduce the need for manual interventions or repairs.

Edge computing is another technology likely to have a significant impact on the commercialisation of the space sector. It brings data processing closer to the source for near-real-time results, and opportunities for quicker action. This will bring many benefits like being able to monitor spacecraft and produce actionable information on the spot, reducing the dependence on Earth and the time taken to get results – this can help with improving crew health and facilities monitoring. It also has implications for rapid extraction of information on EO satellites, such as identification of flooding, illegal fishing, deforestation, algal blooms, or environmental disasters.

Space technologies are also helping solve major challenges on Earth. New startups are working to find alternative ways for satellites to generate sustainable energy using photovoltaics and directed light beams to transmit energy safely to Earth — meaning solar power could be generated 24 hours a day. 

Cross-sector space collaboration

As the new space economy continues to evolve, businesses might like to consider its growth potential. Organisations that seize these opportunities today may be best positioned to capitalise on the industry’s expected expansion in the coming years.

But governments, startups and corporates will not be able to get there alone. To realise the full potential of space, it is crucial for traditional organisations to embrace the agile and innovative nature of startups. By fostering an environment that encourages collaboration and partnerships, the industry can build a vibrant ecosystem that benefits all stakeholders. Startups in turn can gain access to valuable resources, mentorship and market opportunities, propelling their growth and enhancing their chances of success.

Collaboration will also be required across sectors. Spin-offs and job creation will likely emerge from the interplay between startups, fast-growth SMEs, multinationals and regulators across sectors seeking to surface, test and bring tech solutions to market – creating a virtuous cycle of innovation, value creation, and growth.

The value of space applications is rapidly increasing across so many companies and sectors beyond non-traditional space markets. We’re excited to be working with companies in Australia and abroad at the leading edge of technology and capability development, with the aim of joining the dots between big companies and the startup community.

Stephanie Wan
Associate Director
KPMG Space Industry Lead

The KPMG Future Technology Program

Since 2022, KPMG Australia and Stone & Chalk have collaborated on the Future Technology Program, a commitment to help Australian startups succeed. This shared program, nurtures innovation, accelerate growth, and drives economic benefits in the national technology sector. 

Selected startups receive 12 months of complimentary residency at one of Stone & Chalk’s startup hubs, as well as guidance and support from a diverse array of mentors and industry experts who can facilitate client introductions and industry conversations. They also receive access to a KPMG mentor tailored to their business, to help validate, test, learn, and explore genuine opportunities for growth.

From Earth Observation solutions to dynamic, wireless energy distribution, the potential of these companies is limitless. We’re thrilled to be supporting five hugely exciting ventures with the second iteration of this program and look forward to seeing what we can help them achieve.

Sarah Vega
National Managing Partner
KPMG Futures

2023 recipients: space technology

In June 2023, KPMG Australia and Stone & Chalk announced the second cohort of the Future Technology Program – five game-changing startups working in space technology.

  • Arlula is an EO data management platform, enabling users across various industries to seamlessly access, procure and manage EO data.
  • Ozius Biome brings deep knowledge of the natural environment to commercially accessible EO analytics. The company uses data from space, fused with on-ground intelligence, to provide a comprehensive three-dimensional overview of the environment to unlock opportunity and knowledge about natural assets.
  • Spiral Blue’s Space Edge computing technology uses cutting-edge machine learning technology and hardware to improve affordability, lead times, and accessibility for EO data.
  • Aquila is creating the internet of energy. The company’s goal is to build and operate an infinitely scalable energy network by using photovoltaics and directed light beams to transmit energy safely and effectively at scale.
  • Nominal Systems has developed a unique digital twinning architecture that blends state-of-the-art simulation with the latest in IoT, cloud and gaming technologies to redefine the way complex systems are designed, tested and operated.

Learn more about KPMG Future Technology Program.

Frequently asked questions

What are KPMG space offerings and capabilities?

KPMG can help connect, support, and advise clients on domestic and global space endeavours across the following areas:

  • Accelerating business growth
  • Internet of Things
  • Data
  • Engineering & Asset Management
  • Process improvement and supply chain optimisation
  • Legal and regulatory
  • Deals
  • Cyber security

We also have a deep network of partners across the globe, offering insights into international best practice, global markets, and helping facilitate international collaboration. Learn more about KPMG's Space Industry Advisory service.

What will the space industry look like in 2030?

With the increased number of countries signing the Artemis Accords, aimed to foster international space cooperation for the moon and Mars over the past several years, we believe people will return to the moon and set up a more permanent base. As continued space exploration investments increase, such technological innovations will benefit use cases on Earth.  For example, as space travel requires developing the necessary critical infrastructure, this translates to our reliance of connectivity from satellites in space for affordable communication to previously ‘off-grid’ areas on Earth.  But there are many other views - read our 30 Voices on 2030: The Future of Space report.

What is the KPMG Future Technology Program?

KPMG Australia and Stone & Chalk joined forces to help Australian startups succeed. This partnership combines Stone & Chalk’s innovation community with KPMG’s industry knowledge.

Five startup founders and their teams will receive complimentary residency at one of Stone & Chalk’s startup hubs located nationally for 12 months. Plus a personalised support program across areas such as investor readiness, industry insights, potential client connections and mentoring on working with corporates.

Learn more about KPMG Future Technology Program.

How do I apply for the KPMG Future Technology Program?

You can apply via the Stone & Chalk website: KPMG: Future Technology Program | Stone & Chalk.

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