Reaching the end of its needs' assessment phase, the 4th and final workshop organised under the aegis of SineQuaNet gathered together more than 100 professionals from European small- and medium-sized enterprises, research institutes and space industry organisations.
The prime objective: to explore, discuss and lay the foundations for actions capable of increasing the participation of SMEs in European space business.
SMEs : an under-represented but invaluable source of dynamic, flexible innovators in Europe's space programmes
“SMEs are very valuable contributors to the supply chain in the space environment,” underlined Eric Morel de Westgaver, head of ESA’s Procurement Department, in his opening speech to the workshop, which was hosted at ESRIN, ESA’s European Centre for Earth Observation in Frascati, Italy.
Continued Morel: “An estimated 700,000 SMEs are developing high technologies in Europe - yet only around 1600 SMEs are registered with ESA as potential suppliers. SME participation in very large European projects remains as yet far from reaching its full potential, due to a number of entry barriers. This is a key motivating factor for the SineQuaNet initiative."
Contributors to the debate and discussions represented a broad spectrum of interests with a stake in the success of Europe’s space industry, including participants from SMEs, large industrial companies, and government organisations.
The order of the day centered on exploring, discussing and defining means and methods to meet the needs expressed by SMEs for access to technical and engineering support from the networking activities of SineQuaNet.
Ultimately, the aim of such actions is to help SMEs overcome entry barriers to doing business with ESA, and to enhance the profitable harnessing of their undoubted dynamism, flexibility, and capacity for innovation, as participants in Europe’s space programmes.