Harnessing the opportunities of the space industry for Belgian companies

The fast-evolving space domain is full of potential. From strategy to execution, we help public and private sector clients solve complex and diverse problems.

The space industry is multifaceted. Influenced by overarching dynamics that extend beyond mere market forces and comprising diverse domains that each have their own distinct characteristics, it requires a comprehensive perspective.

What’s more, the development of this sector is profoundly influenced by a continually changing regulatory and policy landscape, and it holds substantial ramifications in other industrial sectors, given the services and applications it facilitates, which creates interdependencies with broader macro-trends.

In the context of Belgium, a unique angle on these dynamics can be explored, acknowledging the country's role and contributions in this intricate landscape. The evolving regulatory framework, the specificities of different segments, and the societal and economic impacts of space activities take on a distinct character when viewed through the lens of Belgium's participation in the industry. Furthermore, government spending in this field can be justified by recognising how space endeavours are crucial to address global challenges such as the demand for enhanced connectivity, environmental monitoring, and security.

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Exploring the Vast Potential of the Space Industry: A Belgian Perspective

Within the space sector, a multitude of organisations in Belgium contribute to an array of products and services, ranging from satellite communications and earth observation to space exploration and access to space. The impact of space developments, including data, innovation, and new discoveries, resonates across sectors such as agriculture, defence & security, oil & gas, and financial services. To harness the full spectrum of opportunities offered by the space industry, a comprehensive and global approach is essential.

deep space

To fully understand Belgium's involvement, we must first examine how the nation plays a crucial role in space-related endeavours. By delving into the unique contributions of Belgian businesses and the challenges they face, we can gain insights into the specific dynamics of the industry in the Belgian landscape. In addition to vast opportunities, Belgian companies encounter risks and challenges such as rapid market evolutions, disruptions, supply-chain complexities, extended product cycles, cybersecurity threats, digital transformation demands, and the imperative to address environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns. Exploring these facets through a Belgian lens provides a nuanced perspective on the complexities of the space industry.

A market facing evolution and disruption

As the landscape of space development undergoes significant evolution and disruption, traditional models led by government funding are giving way to a burgeoning ecosystem of private-sector firms. This shift creates a dynamic scenario, with constant developments and disruptions shaping the market. And against this backdrop, innovative business models and solutions are emerging with increasing rapidity.

Supply chain issues

Simultaneously, supply chain disruptions have been affecting the space industry in recent years. Geopolitical tensions, global health crises, raw material scarcities, and changing consumer demand have all contributed to weakening supply chain links. The shift towards local sourcing and therefore away from globalisation has further impacted the way Belgian businesses in the space domain access materials and resources.

Addressing these supply chain challenges is imperative for Belgian organisations in the space sector to enhance their resilience and reduce dependencies on unreliable sources. Strategic partnerships will become increasingly essential to navigate geopolitical conflicts, rising competition for materials, and other developments that are putting a strain on traditional supply chains.

Talent and skills

Shortages in talent and skills, which are perennial challenges in the space sector, have recently been exacerbated by external factors such as Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic. Organisations, especially in Belgium, are experiencing difficulties to attract highly skilled workers. What’s more, the ongoing digital transformation of the space sector is intensifying this skills crisis, and the demand for software engineers is on the rise across all sectors.

New industry entrants

Over the past two decades, the space industry's transition from government-led programmes to a market-based sector has given rise to diverse businesses in Belgium and prompted companies to design space assets with consumer demand in mind, creating a strong push towards commercialisation. Start-ups and scaleups in Belgium are securing substantial capital to develop innovative products and services for the space market, with financial support now coming from diverse sources, including 'angel investors' and companies with a vested interest in the spatial sector.

Addressing challenges across the space industry

A holistic approach

In grappling with the multifaceted challenges of the space industry, a holistic approach is essential. At PwC, we delve into these complexities through The New Equation, which combines human ingenuity with relevant technology across our community of solvers. Our engagement extends to both institutional and private stakeholders in the industry, as well as end users in adjacent sectors such as energy, agriculture, and defence & security, providing a unique Belgian perspective.

Strategising for success

Leveraging our strong legacy in strategy consulting, the knowledgeable solvers that make up PwC's Advisory and Strategy teams stand ready to empower organisations in Belgium to achieve success. Focused on creating capabilities-driven strategies, we assist space sector businesses to evaluate markets, identify gaps, assess policy options, and understand business cases. Our consulting services encompass capability assessments, Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A), partnerships, operating models, and financial planning in order to guide Belgian organisations through the exciting opportunities the space domain has to offer with reliable and effective strategies.

Socio-economic impact assessments

With a practice informed by decades of experience, our socio-economic impact assessments consider the unique context of Belgian space operations. From gross domestic product (GDP) impact assessments to technology and knowledge spill-over evaluations, we tailor our methodologies to examine the intricate details as well as the overarching socio-economic impacts of large-scale public and private investments in Belgium.

Governance, operations and regulatory assessment

Supporting both institutional and private-sector customers involved in Belgian space programmes, PwC analyses governance and organisational structures to enable operational excellence. Our expertise extends to governance at country, program, and entity levels, advising on funding schemes and conducting audits to optimise economic development. In the field of regulations, our team, which includes legal experts, conducts in-depth assessments of warranty and liability safeguards, personal data protection, intellectual property rights, and exports, within the Belgian context.

Data analytics: Insights from space

Recognising the myriad potential applications of satellite data, we facilitate the leveraging of insights and benefits by Belgian businesses and institutions. Whether by initiating feasibility studies or identifying internal use cases, our locally focused approach helps organisations develop strategic roadmaps to harness the power of satellite data.

Environmental, social and governance

ESG issues are an emerging focus both in the public and private sectors, and at PwC, we see space as a crucial element to address these challenges. In Belgium, we work with clients to align space activities with ESG objectives, utilising satellite data to improve environmental understanding and establish robust policies. Concerning social corporate governance, we contribute to building trust and transparency in the Belgian marketplace through effective reporting.

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Steven De Bruyn

Steven De Bruyn

Partner, PwC Belgium

Arno Van der hasselt

Arno Van der hasselt

Manager, PwC Belgium