Celebrating the tenth anniversary of Portugal joining ESA as a Member State, José Mariano Gago, Portuguese Minister of Science and Higher Education, and Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director General, met today at Pavilhão do Conhecimento, Lisbon.
For Portugal, becoming a Member State has been essential to foster the development of new cluster of activity. Around 30 companies, many of them start-ups, have been created with a focus on space technologies. Over one thousand projects in the space field have been conducted by industry and academia together during this last decade, in a global investment of more than €100 million.
Portugal participates today in all the main ESA programmes, including Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, Galileo and Navigation-related activities, Earth Observation, and Science and Robotic Exploration.
Mr Gago and Mr Dordain also attended the Fourth Space Forum, organised by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Science and Technology Foundation), through its Space Office and Agência Ciência Viva. ESA has been a strong supporter of the event.
The Fourth Space Forum is an opportunity for the entities interested in the space field to connect with each other and exchange experiences, as well as to attend the presentations of the 'Impact Study of the Portuguese Participation in ESA'. According to this impact study, after 10 years Portugal has multiplied by a factor of 30, in terms of space sector employees, and by a factor of around six, in terms of the turnover for the space companies.
At the opening ceremony, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain noted, "These ten years of Portuguese ESA membership have been a fantastic cooperation and a true success story. Not only Portugal has reached about 100% of the industrial return on ESA programmes, but the country has also managed to create a major leverage of this investment creating new market opportunities beyond the ESA activities."
João Sentieiro, President of the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, added, "The success of the Portuguese participation in ESA should inspire all of us in the challenges and opportunities that the European Space programmes will present us in the next years."
The Opening Ceremony was formally closed by the Portuguese Minister of Science, José Mariano Gago, who said, "ESA is a challenge for the industry, due to the complexity of projects to be developed."
Summarising his presentation, he stated, "We are now on a very interesting moment where we assist to a great bonding among industry, scientific research and space."
This event was attended by about 200 space professionals, showing the extent of interest and the large impact of space activities in other areas of the Portuguese industry and economy.