Engineering Network to provide technical support to SMEs
At the end of 2005, the SME Unit of ESA launched a new project called SINEQUANET (Space Intelligence, Engineering and Quality Network). This network, carried out in cooperation with the DG Research of the European Commission is expected to become a genuine structuring tool for SMEs, offering them support in engineering and industrial processes.
"SINEQUANET will use engineers and other experts to support SMEs, with the purpose of helping them improve their skills, lower their entry barrier to space, and foster their competitiveness in the space and non-space markets. Once fully operational, SINEQUANET will make a valuable impact on the SME sector," said Nora Bougharouat, Head of ESA’s SME Unit and the instigator of the Project.
The first phase of the project commenced on 1 November 2005 and will last 24 months. It will establish the network’s baselines, prepare the necessary tools for its operation and test its functions through case studies selected in representative fields. Although SINEQUANET will require a few years to achieve its full operational potential, SMEs will already receive – free of charge – concrete services during the present start-up phase. Some 100 engineers will receive training in areas to be identified during the course of the project and ESA experts will validate technologies selected from two European SMEs active in two of the most promising industrial fields. They will be helped in maturing these technologies and in bridging the gap to their commercial exploitation.
One of these two companies is the French SME Leirios, which specialises in cutting-edge software test systems. Leirios has developed a new test generator that will be tested and validated under the SINEQUANET project by experts from ESA’s software engineering section. The other company is the Austrian SME, HOS-Technik GmbH, which specialises in producing the additives and catalysts used to produce high-temperature resins and polyimides for the plastics and rubber industry. ESA specialists will assist in drawing up the specifications to optimise the production process and then evaluate the polyimide-based films produced following these specifications.
Many other activities will also be part of SINEQUANET and on many occasions SMEs and industry in general will be given the opportunity to meet the Project Team. In particular on ESA Industry Space Days (ISD) 2006 which will be part of the Project. In addition, six regional workshops will be organised in different areas of Europe to meet the end users and discuss with them the project content as well as their real needs on which SINEQUANET should be based.
SINEQUANET is co-funded by ESA under its SME Initiative and by the EC under the Economic and Technological Intelligence instrument of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). Through these programmes, both ESA and the EC strive to provide strategic research support to European SMEs, to facilitate access to scientific and technological information, and to foster their innovation capability.
SINEQUANET is under the direct coordination of ESA’s SME Unit. Any queries concerning the project status, the ISD or the workshop to be organised in your region may be addressed to: SME-Unit@esa.int.