Eurisy Members’ Day goes digital!

The Members’ Day is a yearly appointment on the agenda of Eurisy members. This event represents a unique opportunity to interact with peers, exchange views on national initiatives, network, explore synergies, and boost cooperation across Europe.

Usually, Eurisy or one of its Members opens its doors to host this event. However, this year, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic challenged us under many different profiles and the Members’ Day was no exception.

Suddenly, we experienced a tremendous restriction on our most consolidated habits and an unforeseen disruption to our activities. We have been forced to work from home, to keep social distancing, to limit our movements in cities, regions and across countries. Throughout the whole of 2020, we witnessed the postponement and eventually the complete cancellation of all planned events hoping for a rapid easing of the restrictions, which unfortunately did not happen as soon as we wished. However, we decided to keep being bold in our actions maintaining our usual spirit of innovation and opening-up, with renewed enthusiasm, to cutting-edge endeavours!

Eurisy, like many others, throughout the year developed new digital skills to adapt to these challenging times, and kept its spirit, adapting its activities to the needs and challenges of this unprecedented moment.

In this spirit and convinced about the relevance of keeping on celebrating major achievements, it was decided to switch the Members’ Day into a digital format!

This was highlighted during the opening speech of our President Ms. Dominique Tilmans, who recalled the importance of turning every challenge into a new opportunity, to learn and grow and to continue fulfilling the Eurisy mission of raising awareness on the benefits deriving from satellite applications. Space technology has been of great support during the pandemic, providing key information and inputs to many diverse economic sectors and activities.

This year, the Members’ day was also the occasion to celebrate our 2020 Hubert Curien Award laureate Ms. Magali Vaissière.

The Hubert Curien Award recognizes outstanding efforts to help society benefit from space. Every two years, Eurisy members together with the space community at large are called to nominate some personalities, or teams, or institutions with proven merits in bringing space a little closer to Earth. 2020’s jury, composed of distinguished representatives of the European Space scene, recognized this prestigious award to Magali. In her capacity of Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at the European Space Agency (ESA), she supported the business applications programme helping European industry in non-space sectors to adopt space technology to improve their products and services in multiple fields, from health to environment, energy, aviation, safety and transport.

Back in 2008, Ms Vaissière launched the ESA Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) Integrated Applications Programme (IAP). IAP is dedicated to the development and implementation of integrated applications that uses space assets in combination with terrestrial services.

IAP was launched to support SMEs and start-ups to accelerate the development of their satellite-based innovation. The programme has been the first intergovernmental initiative in Europe based on a Private-Public Partnership (PPP) scheme. This PPP scheme helps SMEs and start-ups to share the financial burden and risks while demonstrating the commercial potential of new products and services on the market. Through the programme, selected companies are provided with business, financial and technical expertise to transform their ideas into final products and services to become more competitive and sustainable industries.

Over the last years, the wealth of applications developed provided essential solutions and services for a diverse range of sectors spanning from telemedicine to tele-education, transport, disaster management, telebanking, supporting the society while contributing to economic growth. These applications demonstrate that space is part of our everyday lives. The need to support the development of downstream applications is growing at every level: local, national and international.

Ms Vaissière highlighted in her speech that ESA has been a key actor in supporting all types of applications’ development, even though the budget allocated for this represents only 1.2% of the total ESA budget.

Even if the uptake of space solutions is slowly increasing, space is still too often perceived solely as a technology-driven domain, considered to be too complex and expensive. The need to raise awareness of the benefits derived from space for society is still relevant. It is still paramount to create a new mindset and a new culture around space and what it can bring to society.

The importance of having a new culture has also been re-affirmed by Mr Timo Pesonen- Director-General for Defense Industry and Space at the European Commission. Mr Pesonen stated that Europe needs a more robust and competitive space sector to reduce Europe strategic dependence on space. To do so, the European Union is launching ad hoc initiatives to boost the investments for space innovation, especially after an unconventional year as 2020 that is seriously affecting many space actors with job losses and budget cuts. The long and winding road to the socio-economic recovery of Europe just started, and it passes by a revamping of the space sector.

Space is indeed a fundamental asset for Europe. In the coming years, the ambition is to make it more and more attractive to start and grow new business opportunities. Several initiatives have been announced to allow established companies, start-ups, and SMEs to regain international competitiveness: Cassini, the Pact for Skills and INNOVFIN are only a few of the new supporting mechanisms put in place.

In addition to the initiatives launched by the EU, national space agencies and other institutions are also developing programmes aiming at promoting space-based solutions for society. This is the case of the initiative launched by the French Space Agency “Connect by CNES”. Christine Astorg-Lepine, Head of Connect by CNES, illustrated key drivers and actions of this initiative. With Connect by CNES, the agency facilitate access to space technology and services, especially start-ups, to support them in developing innovative products. Connect by CNES offers start-uppers technical expertise and access to CNES facilities to test their solutions. Currently, Connect by CNES is mainly targeting three non-space industries: mobility, health, and environment. Since its launch, the initiative incubated 162 start-ups, used 92 patents for projects, provided 60 training courses, set-up 14 partnerships with companies or territories, and organised 140 events.

The Members’ Day is not only a platform for the members to exchange, but it also represents an opportunity for Eurisy’s team to present its past and future activities. Despite all the difficulties, new activities and collaborations started.

In late 2020, Eurisy decided to revamp the Space4Maritime initiative. In particular, Eurisy started to collect new use cases of early adopters of satellite applications in the maritime domain, and more specific use cases related to the topic of the management of marine resources, ocean protection, maritime security, ocean sciences, transport and logistics, food security, renewable energy, and finally maritime infrastructure. If you are currently using satellite application and you are willing to promote it tip us! In addition to this, Eurisy supported in his context the ESA Blue World Task Force, and, in particular, its maritime stakeholders’ consultation launched early February 2021. To enhance the engagement of maritime users a series of three webinars have been organised aiming at identifying the major needs and challenges of the sector as well as the concrete uses of satellite data and services. The webinars focused on three macro topics: management and protection of marine resourcesmaritime safe transports and communications; and the Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP).

Over the next few months, Eurisy will continue with its mapping of stakeholders and identification of needs that will be collected in a handbook dedicated to the maritime domain.

Eurisy also put at the core of its activities the relevance of the use of space assets to respond to the environmental challenges we are facing today. Eurisy team focused its attention on the EU Green Deal as an EU priority for the years to come. In this context, Eurisy launched together with Groundstation dotSpace, a new initiative called Space Opportunities for Climate Challenges. The initiative following a triple helix model presents operational solutions and ongoing projects from industry, research as well as institutions using satellite data to tackle climate challenges in one specific domain from forestry to mobility, from biodiversity protection to energy.

The webinars are built adopting a multidisciplinary approach that comes with an open networking and knowledge-sharing platform where space and non-space peers can exchange ideas.

The next webinar is about Space for Smart Mobility and it will aim at presenting some of the best research, industry projects and government opportunities in the use of space for smart and green solutions in mobility. The webinar will also highlight some of the brand-new funding opportunities through the Horizon Europe programme in this area. The webinar will be held online on April 7th.

Eurisy continued to fulfil its mission of raising awareness of non-space professionals using a user-centred approach, that puts the needs of the users at the core of the dialogue with the service providers to boost and facilitate the uptake of satellite-based applications. To do so, Eurisy will continue to collect use cases and to share them online and through the main social media channels.

In the upcoming months, more activities will come. Stay tuned! Follow Eurisy social media channels, register to get our quarterly newsletter and do not forget to visit regularly our newly designed website to know more about our activities and events.