Also present on the NL Space stand is Han Wensink, director of Ocean Space Consult B.V. and chairman of the newly formed cooperative NEVASCO – which stands for Netherlands Value Adding Services Companies. A collective that, by pulling together, can better serve a global market with Dutch space technology solutions.
Why are seemingly competitive companies joining forces in this way?
‘It has everything to do with the size of the individual companies. They have a lot of in-house knowledge and are very innovative. However they are also too small to attract major projects or investors. Something that can be achieved by joining forces – ultimately everyone benefits.’
You call it a cooperative. How exactly does that work?
‘Think of the Rabobank or Campina. They are also cooperatives. Seventeen companies have already indicated that they want to participate in NEVASCO. I think the cooperative model is part of the genetic make-up of Dutch business owners. We are a trading nation that thrives on exporting products. If it helps to team up, then that is what you do. And it has already proved fruitful: an extra government investment of fifteen million euros. That would never have been achieved by the individual companies.’
NEVASCO has investigated the market potential of space applications. What do the statistics say?
‘Over the next five years, the Earth observation market will double from a turnover of 1.6 to 3.2 billion euros. Geo-information is even bigger. That market is set to double to 65 billion. So there are excellent opportunities for the export of applications that use satellite data. Logical, since you can efficiently gather valuable information from that data. And it is a source of creativity and employment.’
Can you give some examples of typically Dutch applications that will grab attention at the Hannover Messe?
‘There are four areas. The first is agriculture and food. Think of precision agriculture and the delivery of reliable statistics for agricultural yields. Such information is important to financial institutions such as the World Bank. The second area is ‘smart cities’ in delta regions. For example, how do you deal with disaster response and evacuations? But also water management. Thirdly, the energy sector: everything to do with oil and gas pipelines, off-shore platforms and mishaps. And finally, security. Satellite data can help manage critical infrastructures such as dykes, and the military forces can be better prepared for their missions.’
Taking the energy sector and pipeline maintenance as an example. How do Dutch companies work together in this field?
‘SKYGEO uses satellite data to obtain billions of subsidence measurements. This data is used in an intelligent way to look at the state of gas pipelines. Orbital Eye provides additional information about any excavations that have taken place in the vicinity, by detecting near real-time changes to the soil. Any changes can be immediately signalled to those in charge of pipeline maintenance. And, there are companies such as HERMESS that, in the event of an explosion, can predict the behaviour of a cloud of toxic gases. Other companies such as NEO and ELEAF can then investigate the consequences of the explosion on the surrounding environment and buildings. Together these businesses provide a complete package of information and applications that have a lot of added value for the oil and gas industry.’
What does the future hold for these and other Dutch companies that create innovative space applications?
‘The future is bright! Together we can make an impact and put Dutch space applications on the map internationally. Telling our story at the Hannover Messe will definitely contribute to this.’
Han Wensink from NEVASCO is presenting at the Hannover Messe on 14 April, 13.30 in the Holland High Tech House, Hall 2.