26 Mar 2010
This sound and original research coordinated on behalf of the ASI by Professor Giancarlo Graziola of the University of Bergamo is the most complete and up-to-date economic analysis currently available on the sector in Europe being carried out in Italy. Furthermore, a significant proposal is put forward at the end of the 322 page report: rethink the impact of all space and high-tech activities in a much wider perspective, taking account of all the spin-offs including those in sectors that are not closely linked to space but that have important and measurable benefits. In this way it is possible to answer the question underlying the research: what is the economic opportunity for a country like Italy in spending public money in high-technology sectors, particularly space?
Of course there have been similar studies carried out in both Europe and America recently. Graziola’s research takes account of these, improving many areas, but also criticising methodological approaches based on the concept of the Keynesian investment multiplier. Instead, the study group of nine researchers from the University of Bergamo proposed “knowledge and technological spillover” as an analysis tool. These models and their empirical applications converge in indicating the importance of “technological spillovers” to increase productivity in companies, industrial sectors and the whole economic system.
Research and development within a company or sector not only benefit that particular company or sector (in terms of increases in productivity and therefore growth) but technological developments made also migrate to other companies or sectors that use the same technology. The particular nature of the space sector, compared with the rest of the high-tech sector, is twofold: there is high investment in research and development (3 times the average of the high-tech sector taken as a whole); and secondly, it is on the cutting edge of almost all technological areas, even those only indirectly related to space. In this way its developments migrate easily to a large part of the manufacturing sector - other than in the space services sector - generating indirect increases in productivity and growth.