We conduct research in various areas of space. The main focus is on the Newspace economy, Innovation and technology management and Engineering economics.

Newspace economy

Our research institute is committed to advancing the understanding of innovation in the space sector, especially the "New Space" economy. We focus on assessing its implications for the economics of the sector (e.g. market organization, new business models), for the innovation ecosystem, and for its governance. To do so, we adopt a multidisciplinary approach, building on the CFAC’s expertise in the management of innovation, finance and engineering economics. We also leverage HSG’s strength in organization design, management and governance of public organizations. This enables us to frame "the big picture" with novel conceptual frameworks, and to explore critical areas such as public private partnerships, innovation policy, and the financing of space start-ups.

Innovation and technology management

Our research institute draws upon a deep expertise in Innovation Studies and technology management to formulate strategies and policies for space actors, leading to actionable recommendations based on the latest academic insights. Our goal is to develop a toolbox that can help policymakers and business leaders adapt to a rapidly changing environment. 

Engineering economics

Our research institute also uses the prism of engineering economics. Lifecycle cost and value modeling are potent, underappreciated tools and data sources. Cost estimation models allow tracking the outcomes of innovative activity, and with system design methodology, and sociotechnical systems engineering & modelling, we aim at understanding the great technological trends in the sector, and assessing their economic and societal impact. We explore critical areas such as future planning for space technology, and their consequences for society.

Space Working Papers

Defining innovatisation: The case of NewSpace and the changing space sector

(Benoit Cornet, Marc-André Chavy-Macdonald, Dominique Foray)

The space sector has become far more dynamic and innovative, with new actors (e.g., startups, venture capital) entering and the ever-growing importance of private firms. In this paper we introduce a novel concept, innovatisation, to understand this phenomenon. Innovatisation describes the transformation of a sector between two modes. In a mode of technological achievements (TA), neither consumers nor costs really count, nor again science, but only technological performance; in innovation, customer preferences, commercial opportunities, and costs become essential. Studying the economics of Apollo and the commercialisation attempts of the 1980s, we show how the space sector has long featured a logic of TA. Then, analysing recent trends, we provide quantitative empirical evidence (e.g., costs) that innovation now shapes the sector: building on Jones (2022), we identify the driving forces behind the innovatisation of the space sector, forces that are further supported by the
rise of entrepreneurship and venture capital; we then discuss the emergence of two properties of the space sector, with the rise of R&D inputs (expenditures and human capital) as a result of these changes.

Link to full paper


Practitioner implications to Defining innovatisation: the case of NewSpace and the changing space sector

(Benoit Cornet, Marc-André Chavy-Macdonald, Dominique Foray)

Implication 1: Vigilance! Space is undergoing a dynamic, profound, and durable transformation

Implication 2: There is a “before” and “after” innovatisation - and your organization’s core
capabilities (and people!) may need to change

Implication 3: It is far cheaper and easier to experiment new space businesses, due to technology, mindsets, and government support

Link to full paper


Anatomy of a Technological Achievement: when technical brilliance is not innovation

(Marc-Andre Chavy-Macdonald, Benoit Cornet, Dominique Foray)

The space sector has long spectacularly illustrated a decoupling between the capacity to create and develop extraordinary technologies, and the capacity for innovation. Apollo is an exceptional technological success – no one disputes that – but innovation in the economic sense is completely absent. This program is outside the economy and thus does not confront the opportunities and constraints that entrepreneurs normally face and respond to through innovation. There is no space for economic discovery. Interestingly, nor is Apollo primarily a scientific artifact; we call it a “Technological Achievement”. We show this is so via a particular methodology, “product archaeology”. Through an analysis of 33 key decisions of the Apollo program, we show that each one, technological or political, anchors it outside pure research and innovation. We also apply this methodology to compare to 22 key decisions of SpaceX’s Falcon development to show that, conversely, the decisions clearly mark it as targeting innovation. The purpose of this paper is to establish the concept of Technological Achievements, as important artifacts in our society throughout human history – and not limited to space. Though typically showing technical brilliance, and often appearing to be innovation or science, they are neither. For Technological Achievements, “neither consumers nor costs really count, nor again science, but only technological performance.”

Contact for full working paper


Space as a business area

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Marc Chavy-Macdonald


Project Leader Space

Benoit Cornet


Postdoctoral Researcher Space