The space sector is one of the most exciting segments of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland's economy – and it's worth even more when broadened to aerospace. Find out about the huge variety of businesses contributing to aerospace and why it's important to Auckland.
A 2019 report commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment shows the New Zealand space sector was worth $1.69 billion in 2018-19 and supported 12,000 jobs. Adding ‘aero’ to the mix at least doubles the size of the sector.
The New Zealand Government sees significant opportunities in further developing the country’s aerospace sector. The Aotearoa New Zealand Aerospace Strategy, released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, provides a strong vision and foundation to drive the growth of the sector through to 2030 and beyond. The strategy aims to establish a distinct New Zealand approach to developing the aerospace sector, by building on national strengths, while managing national security risks.
Aerospace in Auckland
As New Zealand's largest and most globally connected city, Auckland plays a central role in growing the sector and creating close relationships with other industry players across the world, now and into the future.
While a rocket launch inevitably garners the most attention from the general public, Auckland’s growing aerospace sector covers a wider spectrum of space and aviation activities.
Along with engineering, design, technical consulting and research and development (R&D), Auckland has a strong space manufacturing and space applications sub-sectors. These subsectors include the testing of flight vehicles, space launch vehicles, spacecraft and non-aerospace products, as well as systems that make use of aerospace technology, including sustainable fuel alternatives.
Space sector businesses are growing with the most established and recognisable player in the industry, Rocket Lab, now sitting alongside exciting startups, such as Zenno Astronautics, Argo Navis Aerospace and Astrix Astronautics, who are developing state-of-the-art solutions for satellites, as well as advanced suppliers of components such as Zenith Technica and coating materials such as Cirrus Materials Science.
Auckland’s space community is thriving – with the introduction of Aerospace Auckland.
Meet Auckland startup - Argo Navis Aerospace
New startup Argo Navis Aerospace is a commercial supplier of upper-stage rocket engines and one of Auckland's innovative aerospace startups.
As part of Tātaki Auckland Unlimited's recent international tech talent attraction campaign, Argo Navis Founder and Director Dr Malcolm Snowden shared what the company does, how it tests its products, its diverse team, and where he sees the future of the industry.
Hear the Argo Navis story and see behind the scenes of a rocket launch in Auckland.
Why is aerospace a big deal?
The aerospace industry brings significant economic, cultural and social benefits to Auckland and Aotearoa.
The space sector contributes over $1.69 billion dollars annually to the national economy and is expected to grow rapidly.
Global connections and reputation:
Aerospace is, by nature, global, and Auckland's status as a globally connected city stands us in good stead for potential partnerships or sharing of information and technology. Rocket Lab put Auckland on the map as a serious player and has opened the door for others to make their mark on the world stage. Our reputation for innovation and creativity will only grow stronger.
Tech development and R&D:
The sector is actively engaged in R&D and has strong R&D capability within universities and the private sector. Advancements and innovations in technology not only grow the sector but have the potential to cross over into countless other industries. This could be as simple as improvements in construction materials through to communication networks and AI.
Space currently supports around 12,000 jobs nationally, but this will grow rapidly as more businesses connect to the sector, either directly or in adjacent roles, from telecommunications and data analytics to logistics and transport.
Aerospace startups are among priority investments for such venture funds as Nuance and Outset Ventures. Auckland startups Zenno Astronautics and Argo Navis Aerospace have created breakthrough technologies for rockets and satellites, and Zenno Astronautics recently received over $10 million in investment funds.
Upward trajectory – the future of aerospace
Those already working in the aerospace sector in Aotearoa know just how thrilling it is and what it contributes to our economy. What many businesses may not know is that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to be part of the sector’s present and future.
As aerospace continues to expand, more people, services and products will be needed across more diverse functions – manufacturing, marketing, logistics, communications, construction, finance, software, environmental specialists and many more. Auckland businesses may be able to commercialise or pivot their own expertise to benefit from becoming part of this growing sector.
Marissa Brindley, Head of Tech and Innovation – Tātaki Auckland Unlimited
Introducing Aerospace Auckland Inc.
Aerospace Auckland Inc. is a newly formed independent society that facilitates connections and knowledge sharing in the Auckland aerospace sector.
Founding members of the society included representatives of Argo Navis, Astrix Astronautics, Auckland Council, Auckland University of Technology, Bank of New Zealand, Dotterel Technologies, MartinJenkins, Outset Ventures, Rocket Lab, Rotoiti, Te Pūnaha Ātea - Space Institute by UoA, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, Zenith Tecnica and Zenno Astronautics. In the first year since incorporation Aerospace Auckland has significantly grown its membership by adding representatives of BECA, Callaghan Innovation, Emrod, Fi Additive, NZDF, Otago University, RAM3D, Space Base and University of Auckland.
Tātaki Auckland Unlimited was proudly involved in the formation of Aerospace Auckland and continues to work with the community to support development, growth and connection in Auckland’s space sector.
Find out more and get involved
The possibilities for Auckland's aerospace industry are infinite. Want to find out more? Check out the Aerospace Auckland website and sign up to the Tech Tāmaki Makaurau newsletter to stay in touch with Auckland’s tech sector news.
*Image: Aotearoa New Zealand from space, NASA.