Paper: To Infinity and Beyond: A Teaching Case on Rocket Lab and The Emergence of New Zealand’s Space Ecosystem

Abstract

This teaching case focuses on the relationship between entrepreneurs, their ventures and the broader context the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem (I&EE)-in which entrepreneurial activity occurs. Building on secondary data and informal conversations with industry experts, the case recounts the story of Rocket Lab, an aerospace manufacturer and launch service provider founded in 2006 in New Zealand. The case elaborates on how unique contextual conditions in combination with the founder’s vision and skills enabled Rocket Lab to become a dominant force in the space sector, even though the firm was founded in a country with virtually no history in spacefaring and highlights that Rocket Lab’s emergence constituted the foundation of a burgeoning space industry in New Zealand. In doing so, the case sensitises students to the importance of self-reinforcing and mutually interdependent relationships in well-functioning I&EEs and the role policymakers play in this context. At the same time, it allows a critical discussion of I&EEs, particularly if they are dominated by a small number of anchor firms.

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