ESA’s High Level Forum emphasises space strategy for Europe

High Level Forum 2016
11 July 2016

The High Level Forum with industry on 20 June at ESA’s Technology Centre ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands attracted over 120 representatives of European industry.

It enabled European space industry and institutions to discuss what is at stake for the European space sector and the next steps for ESA.

Those attending included system integrators, equipment suppliers, operators, downstream specialists and SMEs, along with 14 Member States Delegations and the European Commission.

In discussions on the status of the European space strategy, the EC, the ESA Executive and ESA Member States highlighted the need to push towards one single joint European space strategy.

This approach was strongly supported by industry, and underlines the importance of European Institutions carrying coordinated and coherent objectives.

ESA Director General Jan Woerner at the High Level Forum 2016

All panellists emphasised that space is positive and inspirational for European society, particularly space science and exploration.

Space diplomacy was highlighted as a powerful yet currently underused tool to support the promotion and export of European space assets in foreign markets. European space industry should capitalise on its reputation for delivering innovative and highly reliable state-of-the art technology.

All panels agreed that growth and job creation in the European economy should be a key driver in decisions on future space infrastructures and the strategic use of existing space assets.

In particular, panellists recognised the need to foster the development of downstream applications and services by integrating space and non-space sectors; creating more favourable regulatory frameworks; and creating well matched public–private partnerships.

ESA Director of Industry, Procurement and Legal Services, Eric Morel de Westgaver

Technology and innovation were seen as crucial to sustain the competitiveness of the European space industry. Gaining flight heritage through more in-flight demonstration opportunities would de-risk technology and reduce the time to market.

Panellists from industry underlined the challenges they face regarding the fast evolution of processes, the move towards digitalised production methods and the development of completely new business models.

Security – from space and for space – was a key topic, with concentrated effort in cyber security seen as vital.

Finally, a move to a more SME-friendly ESA was strongly supported. Both industry and Member States encourage the continuous effort to develop SME task force and test cases within an adequate new ESA programme portfolio nurturing innovation, flexibility and efficiency through which SMEs can reach their full potential.

All ESA initiatives supporting industry in addressing these challenges, including the progress made by the Agency with regard to the previous HLF recommendations in terms of processes, innovation, downstream and SME policies were highly appreciated and encouraged for further development.

After registering a remarkable level of participation, ESA closes the doors of HFL2016. ESA Looks forward to organising the next High Level Forum and to seeing returning participants and welcoming newcomers in 2017.

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