The changing face of space: the 'Mega Trends' initiative
The future is the ever-changing environment within which we operate, but the shape of that future is determined by what we do today. In the era of Space 4.0 – as in our own lives – we have to be adaptive to change.
Mega trends are defined as the large-scale, sustained forces of development – such as urbanisation, connectivity and convergence – set to change that future world. Each mega trend is made up of numerous sub-trends that, in turn, are likely to affect particular economic and social sectors, including space. Market research has been carried out with the support of Frost & Sullivan, market leaders in monitoring the trends affecting our societies, economies, organisations and private lives.
With this in mind, ESA has launched the 'Exploring Threats and Opportunities through Mega Trends in the Space 4.0 Era' initiative. It will share information on global mega trends throughout the Agency, and identify and analyse opportunities for, and threats to, the space ecosystem and the role of ESA.
A dedicated ESA team for future perspectives has been set up, with representatives from all the areas of the Agency. Senior managers, technical experts and young staff members have been selected and invited to join the team with the objective of ensuring the largest possible representation of different expertise and level of experience.
Furthermore, in order to expand the reflection and include other stakeholders of space activities, some representatives of the European aerospace ecosystem have been invited to participate to the discussions.
Trend analysis was performed between October and December 2017. Two workshops took place at ESTEC, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, each with different objectives and achieving different goals.
A general presentation on Mega Trends was webcasted for the benefit of specialised users and general public. Fifty-four 'opportunities' and 'threats' were identified during the working session, to which a further 30 ideas were added by a general consultation with colleagues from the different ESA sites.
Starting from 84 opportunities and threats proposed during the first workshop, 13 themes were identified and used as basis for further work during the second workshop, when reflections on the role of ESA for these themes were conducted. Nine opportunity priorities were selected for the Agency, as shown in the final presentation.
The Mega Trend initiative has stimulated reflection across the Agency and among stakeholders on threats and opportunities generated by the analysis of future social, economic and technological patterns. This reflection has focused on the space ecosystem and on the role of ESA to mitigate such threats and take advantage of opportunities.
Though the outcome of the initiative does not represent the ESA positions on the different identified areas, it has been brought to the attention of the Director General and the Executive Board of Directors, leading to a number of actions and initiatives in different areas.
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