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As featured on BusinessMirror:  A galaxy of opportunities

As the commercial space industry evolves, few sectors remain untouched by its technological advances.

Commercial space is moving quickly along its inevitable trajectory from sci-fi to business reality, as pioneering companies around the world pursue vast potential markets for space tourism, space manufacturing, space-enabled connectivity and more. Barely a week goes by without the mainstream media marking another step in the space tourism journey; sector cheerleaders speak of a ‘new industrial revolution’. While hype is inevitable and real obstacles remain, it is clear to most observers that commercial space has entered a new era — viability is finally catching up to ambition. With that in mind, the time is right for other sectors to pay attention.

The implications are broad. Just as the first, government-driven wave of space exploration eventually revolutionized fields such as medical imaging, cardiac monitoring, water purification and human implant devices, so today’s private enterprise-driven space commercialization is expected to yield technology breakthroughs whose applications go far beyond their first use case.

Commercial space is therefore conceived as not a vertical but as a galaxy of multi-sectoral opportunities to be derived from accessing, operating in and connecting to space. Whole new suites of services, products and value await discovery there, representing a huge opportunity for today’s corporate leaders. But first they must understand the implications of commercial space advances for their own sectors — the earlier the better.

Two sectors facing an urgent need to engage with these questions are life sciences and healthcare, both of which are already experiencing a breadth of applicable advances, services and revenue streams made possible by technologies and infrastructure developed in and for commercial space.

In healthcare, there are new opportunities to improve patient outcomes, reduce costs and increase efficiency via advances such as satellite-based medical imaging, remote medical monitoring, device miniaturization and medical supply chain management. The COVID-19 pandemic has given new relevance to the applicability of space-created technologies to healthcare, with space assets being used to facilitate epidemic mapping, deliver health education to remote communities, quantify the impacts of lockdown and monitor post-lockdown recovery. 

  • Telemedicine
  • Clinical trials
  • Medical supply chain
  • Precision medicine
  • Remote monitoring
  • Medical imaging

Meanwhile in the life sciences, space’s differentiated gravity and radiation levels provide a unique environment for experimentation. Space-based biomanufacturing promises purer drugs, while space-based research into the effects of microgravity on the human body may yield new insights and treatments. The list of commercial opportunities is already long and growing fast.

  • Microgravity research
  • Remote monitoring and telemedicine
  • Life support systems
  • Biomanufacturing
  • Space tourism
  • Medical technology development
  • Biomedical research
  • Space agriculture

Of course, commercial space players also stand to gain from these opportunities and have a vested interest in finding appropriate partners. While they can provide the enabling infrastructure, it is healthcare and life sciences companies that are expected to identify the relevant commercial opportunities for their sectors, and that are likely to be needed to secure the data, biological and medical knowledge, and regulatory compliance necessary to safely commercialize new tech solutions. Engaging with interested parties from life sciences and healthcare is therefore likely to loom large in the strategies of commercial space industry businesses looking to develop new business models and grow their market.

What all these opportunities have in common is collaboration. Siloed activity may not build the value-creation ecosystem that commercial space promises. Spinoffs and job creation will likely emerge from the interplay of 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. Policymakers and regulators have a key role to play here, unlocking obstacles such as cross-border data access restrictions whilst finding the right balance between mitigating risk and nurturing innovation. A stable regulatory environment, giving organizations as much visibility and predictability as possible when it comes to the risks of doing business in this highly dynamic sector, is expected to be critical to the maximization of investment.

As the new space economy continues to evolve, all businesses need to consider the growth opportunities it has to offer. Those organizations that seize such opportunities today are expected to be best positioned to capitalize on the growth expected in coming years. Life sciences and healthcare businesses have much to gain from unearthing the hidden value at the intersection of space, technology and their own ambitions, but actually doing so will be challenging. Management teams should not only have a dynamic awareness of the space sector’s evolving technological possibilities, but the vision to proactively identify those most relevant to their customers and stakeholders.


The excerpt was taken from the KPMG Thought Leadership publication: https://kpmg.com/xx/en/home/insights/2023/03/a-galaxy-of-opportunities.html

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This article is for general information purposes only and should not be considered as professional advice to a specific issue or entity. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent KPMG International or KPMG in the Philippines.