Together with the European Commission, the European GNSS Agency (GSA) has been consulting with GNSS user communities to take their input into consideration when defining EGNSS downstream funding priorities in the new financial perspective. A recent report from the GSA summarises the results of these consultations and outlines future R&I priorities.
EGNSS downstream R&I should build on the positive momentum achieved in Horizon 2020, Fundamental Elements and earlier framework programmes by leveraging space data to build applications, receivers that integrate the various EU space programme services and stimulate entrepreneurship and job creation in Europe.
The GSA’s consultation with the GNSS user community during its User Consultation Platforms in 2017 and 2018 revealed that, to make the space sector competitive, R&I investment should be focused on the downstream domain, increasing the use of space signals and data, and leveraging the differentiators of the EU space programmes to improve the worldwide market share of EU industry and SMEs.
After 2020, when the Galileo system is fully operational and the new version of EGNOS will start to be deployed, the primary goal will be to establish European GNSS as the leader in those markets and sectors that best exploit the unique differentiators of the systems. Steps should also be taken to complete market uptake in longer-term regulated market segments (e.g. rail, aviation and maritime). Also new funding tools should be introduced in order to cope with the new needs.
The report makes a number of key recommendations, including on the need to secure the budget and scope related to EGNSS downstream in the Space Regulation and Horizon Europe. What’s more, to achieve the goals outlined above, the report recommends that the Horizon Europe budget be significantly increased compared to Horizon 2020. This increase will also allow for larger pilot projects and operational implementations of Galileo differentiators.
It is also recommended that the Fundamental Elements funding mechanism should fill the gaps in the development of EGNSS-enabled receivers and antennas and target the emerging Galileo differentiators as they become operational, so as to facilitate market readiness.
Finally, the report recommends the introduction of new funding tools to cope with new needs that cannot be covered by the Horizon 2020 and Fundamental Elements tools as used until now:
- Innovation Procurement for the public sector as a customer of Galileo;
- Centres of Excellence to leverage regional and national competences as examples and supporters for others;
- Space-based entrepreneurship to provide a dedicated funding tool for start-ups and SMEs (e.g. in the area of mass market);
- Venture Capital to scale-up our start-ups.
In April 2019 the European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement on key elements of the Horizon Europe proposal. According to this agreement, Horizon Europe will be structured in three Pillars: 1. Excellent Science; 2. Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness; and 3. Innovative Europe.
Early involvement and exchanges with Member States and consultation with stakeholders and the public at large took place during the summer of 2019, to stimulate a co-design process towards the first Strategic Plan for the framework programme. This included a workshop held at GSA headquarters in Prague.
This Strategic Planning process will prepare the Strategic Plan for Horizon Europe for 2021-2024. The plan will facilitate the implementation of Horizon Europe, focusing on Pillar II, by setting out key strategic orientations for support to research and innovation. Drafting of the first Horizon Europe Work Programme on the basis of the Strategic Plan will take place during 2020, after which Horizon Europe will come into effect in 2021.
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