Adelaide Business Event Leads to Creation of Australian Space Agency


The Adelaide Convention Centre plays host to many business events, including the 2017 International Astronautical Congress, which helped spark interest in an Australian Space Agency. (AICC)

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth edition of Boardroom Spotlight, a series produced in partnership with Boardroom, a Brussels-based magazine covering the work of globally based associations. This article, excerpted by Convene, illustrates the lasting impact a global business event can have in a host destination.

By Remi Deve

In December, the premier of South Australia, in a joint announcement with the Australian prime minister, said Adelaide would be the home of Australia’s new AU $41m Space Agency. And it all began with a business event.


Elon Musk of Space X speaks during the 2017 International Astronautical Congress at the Adelaide Convention Centre. (Andy Steven/ACC)

The 2017 International Astronautical Congress (IAC) — which brought 4,500 delegates to the Adelaide Convention Centre from 71 nations — 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 prestigious event, the goal of the local IAC committee members from the Space Industry Association of Australia was to use the event to ignite discussion and enthusiasm at a federal government level with the aim of creating an Australian Space Agency.

Their goal was realized on Sept. 25, 2017 at the opening ceremony of the five-day event with the announcement that the government would indeed open a National Space Agency — and so 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 culminating from IAC 2017. Two of note that were announced on the Adelaide Convention Centre’s website include: Adelaide startup Fleet announced a partnership with French space agency CNES to track and support Fleet’s first nanosatellites once launched, and Italy’s largest privately owned space company SITAEL signed a letter of intent with local startup Inovar to jointly establish a multimillion-dollar company in South Australia. The company is dedicated to the development and integration of nano-micro and mini-satellite–based innovative satellites and space-mission concepts.

The Space Agency will be housed, along with similarly aligned businesses, innovators, and organizations, in the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site (now known as Lot Fourteen Innovation Hub) in the eastern end of the Central Business District — just walking distance or a free tram ride from the Adelaide Convention Centre and BioMed City.

Set to open this year, the agency will employ 20 people and will regulate, license, 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 center, 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 AU $4 billion worth to AU $12 billion by 2030. Adelaide Convention Bureau CEO Damien Kitto said in a press release: “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 utilize when seeking to attract space and related industry events to Adelaide.”

Remi Deve is Boardroom’s chief editor. Learn more about Boardroom.

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