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Isle of Man to become 'Switzerland of Space'

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It may have been described yesterday by one reader as "70,000 alcoholics clinging to a rock", but the Isle of Man has made its pitch to become a space industry giant equivalent to a "Switzerland of Space", according to treasury minister Allan Bell.

Indeed, the island is looking to invest £955,000 over the next couple of years in a marketing drive aimed at attracting space business - in particular, satellite comms-related cash.

According to Isle of Man Today, Bell told the Tynwald Parliament: "We now find ourselves in a space race of our own. [This is] an increasingly volatile and aggressive race with other jurisdictions to compete for this very lucrative economic sector.

"If we do nothing, we will lose the business we already have to a growing number of competitors, including Bermuda, Gibraltar, Luxembourg and Singapore. These jurisdictions are committing increased financial and personnel resources to develop their satellite industries."

The Isle of Man's director of space commerce, Tim Craine, says the money will be well spent: "Tynwald will see a major return on investment many times that which has been approved. Within two years, I would like to see the island having reached a critical mass of clustering in the space and satellite industry and have an international reputation as a prime jurisdiction."

Quite what critical masses of clustering and prime jurisdictions have to do with Switzerland, we have no idea. We do, nonetheless, wish the Isle of Man well in sobering up and transforming itself into a world-beating space canton. ®

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