The fourth edition of European Space Solutions took place in The Hague from 30 May to 3 June 2016 at the World Forum Convention Centre. This major 5-day conference brought together business and the public sector with users and developers of space-based solutions. Spaceoneers attended the “Space Solutions for Business” day on 1 June to get some impressions of the European commercial space sector and how today’s Satellite Navigation and Earth Observation information is creating opportunities for game-changing growth.
Executive Director of the European GNSS Agency (GSA), Carlo des Dorides, first introduced the plenary with an interesting equation (above). Key is how you can bring together space and innovation to ensure that entrepreneurs have the means through which to create growth in the sector. It was discussed how there are so many great opportunities in the space sector but also what barriers exist and what the role of the public sector should be in unleashing EU space entrepreneurship.
It was agreed that no single technology will win, and that a combination of technology, service providers and user communities will shape businesses and drive growth. It was considered how the public sector should work on legal regulations regarding data collection if it wants to use benefits of e.g. GNSS applications and that easy data access for user communities is key. There is a huge effort currently within the EU-funded Galileo and Copernicus programmes to ensure just that.
Investors are starting to see that money can be made in the space sector, that there is a shift from government to private funding. It was noted how venture capitalists invested more in space startups last year than in the last 15 years. There is already a big shift in the sector. Most private investment however happens in USA and Europe is considered more risk averse. How do we attract more private investment in Europe?
Planet Labs is seeing European opportunities as it is now working in the Netherlands on their downstream services, explained their CEO Robbie Schingler. It has launched 133 satellites (and counting) on 11 rockets so far. Over 100 more are coming this year. The downstream market potential is being realised as space can provide solutions to global problems.
Dirk Schmitt of Shell explained how the use of new satellite technologies is extremely relevant for energy asset management worldwide. Can we develop space-borne sensing systems to monitor energy production operations? Agriculture was also recognised as a key area where space technologies reduce environmental impact and improve food production.
In addition to agriculture & food and energy needs, European Space Solutions also focused on the latest trends in areas such as river deltas of the world, smart mobility, climate change & environment and health & safety. Targetted user-driven conferences explored how to leverage space solutions for each of these areas.
Organised through the Netherlands Space Office, an event was held in the afternoon for the launch of the new NL Space Accelerator. It was explained how selected companies can gain access to the range of creative expertise and resources Dutch space industry has to offer. The new Accelerator programme brings together a community of entrepreneurs, creatives, start-ups, mentors and space technologists, all with a common goal: the ability to dream big and a vision for making impact on today’s global challenges.
Europe is now realising the potential of “new space” technologies and the opportunities space has to offer.