GSA executive director hails paradigm shift from development to services
Historically the main focus of the GSA has been the development of the Galileo and EGNOS satellite systems; but GSA Executive Director Carlo des Dorides sees service delivery as the main key to the success of the agency over the next seven years.
Speaking at the 21st European Navigation Conference in the Austria capital Vienna on April 23, the GSA Executive Director Carlo des Dorides stressed that while the focus of the programmes to date has been on system development, now that EGNOS is already operational and Galileo is getting operational, the focus will shift to the provision of services.
During his keynote address, Mr. des Dorides shared with the audience that the GSA currently has following priorities: operations of the Galileo Security Monitoring Centers, security accreditation and market development. Market development has been a major focus of the Agency in recent years and indeed it will continue to be so since GNSS market is expected to see significant growth over the next years, he said.
He went on to explain that, following the successful launch of the first four satellites in the Galileo constellation in 2011 and 2012, the Agency’s immediate focus is to start to underpin the market oriented approach through the provision of services to specific user segments. According to the last Market Report published by the GSA, the downstream GNSS market is confirmed to be a growing area, despite the economic crisis. In fact, GNSS worldwide market shipments are expected to increase at an average of 15% per year by 2016, with road and location-based services being the dominant market segment in the next decade. In this sense, Galileo confirms the multiplier effect to economic growth, which is typical of other space-based technologies, such as telecommunications. Mr. des Dorides emphasised the importance of the market oriented approach being carried out now: the Galileo system has not yet been fully deployed but early services are expected to be available as from end 2014. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to promote market awareness and market understanding by interfacing with specific user domains, standardization bodies and main value-chain stakeholders.
Mr. des Dorides also drew attention to the importance of the fact that GSA developed cooperation with more than 300 companies and 14 universities, and underlined that this cooperation has already resulted in approximately 50 pre-commercial prototypes. Emphasising the cross-cutting nature of the Galileo and EGNOS systems, he noted that these are horizontal programmes, and the services they provide also fall within the remit of different EU domains, such as Transport, which will also have budgetary implications and will expand potential sources of financing for programmes. He also said that financing will continue to be the key to foster new entrepreneurial initiatives. Discussions are underway with the European Investment Bank (EIB) to this end.
Stakeholder dialogue key to success
One of the key components of the shift to service provision will be dialogue with stakeholders, Mr. des Dorides said. He believes that it will also be crucial to intensify relationships with receiver manufacturers, in order to pave the way for the future value chain, delivering European GNSS functionality to the end users. In relation to the different market segments addressed by the activities supporting European GNSS adoption, he underlined that in order to ensure the broadest possible market outreach and to obtain better understanding of the market, it is important to include not only experts, but also the user communities.
This change in the industry’s focus from system development to service provision was something that other keynote speakers also picked up on. Didier Faivre, Director of the Galileo Programme and Navigation Related Activities at the European Space Agency (ESA), noted that the current phase can be described as “the end of the beginning” and that solid building blocks have been put in place for further development. However, he said that future success will not be measured on the basis of the number of satellites, but on the number of users, and that quality of service will be the key to this success.
The GSA Executive Director said that a contract would be awarded in June this year, worth about € 400/500 million for EGNOS operational/service provision for the next eight years. Within this context, he noted that the main challenge is to expand service penetration and that now is the time for savvy entrepreneurs to determine the opportunities that EGNOS can offer to business, finally resulting in a success for the European economy as a whole.
Exciting times for Galileo, EGNOS and GSA
Mr. des Dorides said that Galileo is entering a highly competitive environment since other systems in addition to GPS are in or close to operation and so it is crucial to develop a competitive advantage. Participants in the panel discussion that followed the keynote speakers noted that there is a high level of trust that investment in this sector in Europe is safe, and will result in benefits for European citizens in the form of economic growth, employment and enhanced wellbeing. He stressed that one of the main advantages of the Galileo and EGNOS system is its civil nature, which allows it to commit to a certain level of service that will result to be a highly competitive proposition with other systems, which have a military nature. Mr. des Dorides underlined that the already high level of appreciation of EGNOS would be a great basis to build on. Mr. des Dorides noted the fact that the change in the program focus from a “technological push” phase to a “user-oriented” phase discloses a promising future for the GSA which recently moved to Prague. He said that the Agency had settled in well at its new home, thanks in no small part to the cooperation of the Czech government. This change in location also heralds a period of expansion for the GSA, which currently employs about 70 people from 17 countries. Mr. des Dorides said that staff levels are expected to more than double to around 150 people by 2016/2017.
He believes that this is an exciting time for the industry and that the GSA is looking towards the future and its role to play with confidence and is ready to face the new challenges ahead.
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