Entrepreneurs and SMEs, along with business and public sector professionals using space data from across Europe and around the globe descended on Marseille ‘en masse’ for the 2018 edition of EU Space Week. The event featured presentations from high-level personalities, as well as key user communities. Plus, awards for Europe's up-and-coming space application researchers and innovators were given at the annual Galileo Masters awards.
The EU Space Week opening plenary gathered speakers from industry and the public sector. They discussed how European Satellite Navigation and Earth Observation serve as powerful tools for tackling today's economic, social, and environmental challenges and creating opportunities for growth and job creation.
Elżbieta Bieńkowska, European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said, “Space is essential for our economy. We are not investing in space for the sake of space itself, but because of the benefits it brings to our citizens and society.”
Watch this: EU Space Week in Marseille, 3 - 6 December 2018
The Commissioner's comments come as EU parliamentarians and Member States are in the midst of negotiations concerning the next EU space budget. “Galileo, EGNOS and Copernicus are world-class European success stories,” she said. “We have fought hard to keep them funded and we can see the results.” She also argued that a change of mind-set is needed to keep young European entrepreneurs in Europe, through greater private investment and venture capitalism.
President of the French Space Agency (CNES) Jean-Yves Le Gall called Galileo a “fine testimony” to European teamwork, as are the over 500 million Galileo-enabled smartphones now on the market. The opening plenary also featured round-table discussions with business leaders who are turning space-based data from Galileo and Copernicus into valuable and profitable services on the ground.
For European GNSS Agency (GSA) Executive Director Carlo des Dorides, the success of Galileo has had a lot to do with forward thinking. "We did a lot of preparatory work," he said. "We had to get to know the people we were talking to, those instrument and receiver manufacturers. And we had the financial tools in place to help facilitate their decision making." The GSA handles, among other things, promoting Galileo market uptake.
Cooperation and competition were the key words for ESA Director General Jan Wörner. He said competition is good, but he added, “To remain strong and autonomous, Europe also needs to focus on cooperation. We all need to continue to come together, to join forces.”
User Consultation Platform helps ensure customer satisfaction
The annual EGNSS User Consultation Platform (UCP) enables direct interaction between users of positioning, navigation and timing solutions and the organisations and institutions providing Galileo and EGNOS services. The ultimate goal is to allow programme decision-makers to immediately take on-board inputs coming from users.
UCP participants are actual users of European GNSS systems, representatives of standardisation bodies and industry groups, regulatory bodies, and other members of the GNSS value chain. The work of the Platform in Marseille entailed eight parallel panel sessions bringing together users by market segment. The segments were: Mass Market; Road Transport; Aviation; Rail; Maritime; Agriculture; Surveying & Mapping; and Timing & Synchronisation.
At the UCP plenary session, representatives of the sectors reported the results of their discussions. Members of the audience were encouraged to ask questions and a panel of representatives from the European Commission and the European GNSS Agency (GSA) also interacted directly with the user representatives.
“The exercise was extremely fruitful,” said panellist Fiammetta Diani of the GSA. ”All comments, suggestions and requests will be taken into account and will have a real impact on the evolution of European GNSS services.”
GSA Executive Director Carlo des Dorides thanked participants for their strong engagement and said, “The GSA works hard to maintain close relationships with European GNSS users, and that means all stakeholders in the downstream markets. The real value of the GSA is built on these relationships.”
Matthias Petschke, European Commission Director of EU Satellite Navigation Programmes, said, “What this User Consultation shows is that we are listening to you. Unlike other GNSS around the world, Galileo is a demand-driven programme. We want to hear your ideas and we want to know what you need, to bring your ideas to the market and create business.”
The stars came out for the prestigious Galileo and Copernicus Masters Gala Awards Ceremony, also known as the Galileo Masters awards. This year's annual European space innovation competition focused on how to tackle global challenges with Galileo and Copernicus. Prizes were presented by high-ranking competition partners from business, government and the space community.
Carlo des Dorides presented the 2018 GSA Special Prizes around the theme, 'When and Where'. He explained the rationale for the Agency's ongoing involvement in the awards, which are organised by Germany's AZO. “The focus is this virtuous cycle between innovation, SMEs and finally business in the market,” des Dorides said. “This partnership is a good fit. We have 60 projects funded under Horizon 2020, this is really R&D. We are funding specific technology areas. With the European Satellite Navigation Competition, we can get closer to the market, so this is certainly where we want to be.”