The future is ... up there
With clear airways, proximity to international air and sea ports, and access to infrastructure and talent, Ōtautahi Christchurch is a hub for aerospace and future transport innovation.
A mix of start-ups and entrepreneur-driven companies are fuelling the transition from fossils to renewable, improving the way we move, and using data to create a better future.
NZ Aerospace Challenge
With a current global value of $360 billion, estimated to increase to $2.7 trillion by 2050, the aerospace and future transport space is bright. New technologies are significantly lowering barriers to entry, while digital transformation and IoT-fuelled demand for space and satellite services is rising.
Canterbury has the perfect geography and airspace for testing innovative aircraft and autonomous solution prototypes, and is home to the best in engineering, tech and precision component manufacturing. The economic impact here is already estimated to be between $100m and $1bn.
New Zealand’s space economy alone was valued at $1.69 billion in the 2018/9 financial year, employing 12,000 people. Christchurch was the first region to develop an aerospace sector plan, tapping into New Zealand’s prime spot as number one of eleven launch-capable nations.
The talent is here too, with nearly a third of national aerospace engineering graduates, and nearly a quarter of engineering, coming from Canterbury universities.
For more information, see https://www.supernode.co.nz/
Organisations fuelling Aerospace and Future Transport
Skybase’s innovative autonomous solutions aim to minimise human error from aviation. Working predominantly in the Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) field, Skybase sees massive potential in the unmanned aviation sector – from safer aerial mapping to airborne surveillance services. They see Canterbury as an unrivalled testing ground for their ventures.
Wisk is a self-flying, electric aircraft that rises like a helicopter and flies like a plane. Pioneering an entirely new way to fly, Wisk has testing and operations based in Canterbury, with certification work under way to bring the first air taxi service to market in NZ. Wisk is the first step towards everyday flight.
Founded in 2017 in Christchurch, Orbica specialise in using geospatial data to create solutions and products to make sense of information. Their expert team are pioneering geospatial artificial intelligence, and recently set up an office in Germany after winning a German drone analytics challenge.
A Christchurch company is combining practical and theoretical precision engineering to create niche components and industrial composite solutions. Fabrum Solutions are currently creating cryocooling solutions, used by NASA to freeze carbon dioxide as part of the Mars Lander project. They also run offices in the USA and Europe.
This Christchurch-based company, with links to The Netherlands, makes reusable rockets designed to carry small satellites into space. They intend to make rockets capable of multiple flights to space per day. They credit Canterbury’s unparalleled environment for development, ease of regulation, and uncrowded skies with being able to fly further and faster than anywhere else.
Located in Christchurch, Kea Aerospace are developing an unmanned high-altitude solar aircraft, capable of capturing high-quality and cost effected image data. Once complete, their fixed-wing aircraft would be the largest aircraft of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
Mark Rocket, Kea Aerospace
Our city is an ideal technology test bed for atmospheric and terrestrial projects. Christchurch's aerospace ecosystem is building momentum and projects are starting to flourish. Christchurch is a gateway to the Antarctic and soon will be a gateway to space.
Innovation ecosystem support
Christchurch Aerospace Centre promotes the interests of the Christchurch and Canterbury aerospace community including aviation, space flight, rocketry, manufacturing, engineering, geospatial mapping, data analytics, education, training, and services. The group is open to all interested individuals and organisations wanting to grow the economic wealth and aerospace capability of Christchurch.
This Christchurch-based annual challenge kicked off in 2018 and brings together companies, students and individuals to create solutions to a range of problems. This year, applicants were invited to use satellite data and unmanned aerial vehicles to find new ways to monitor water and soil pollution. Local company Seequent took out the 2019 grand prize. The challenge was supported by Airbus, MBIE, ChristchurchNZ and SpaceBase.
Christchurch-based SpaceBase is focused on democratising space for everyone by co-creating a global space ecosystem to serve entrepreneurs in the space industry. They provide access to training, networking and investment opportunities, as well as technical services.
University of Canterbury student-led club, rocket design and launching competitions, industry speakers
Access to talent: Graduate flows
Canterbury tertiary institutions excel in the following Aerospace and Future Transport-related programmes, with the following graduate flows as a percentage of national:
- Science – Mathematics 14%
- Networking and Cloud computing 18%
- Science – Chemistry 18%
- Mechanical Engineering 19%
- Manufacturing Engineering 21%
- Science - Earth Science 23%
- Science – Physics 24%
- Engineering and Related Technologies not elsewhere classified 34%
- Chemical Engineering 37%