- September 17, 2021
- Posted by: EARSC
- Category: Geoff's Blog
By Delphine Miramont
On April 28rd 2021, the European Parliament approved the update of the EU Space Regulation1 providing for the establishment of the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA), replacing the European GNSS Agency (GSA). The Regulation states that the mission of EUSPA will be “to contribute to the Programme, particularly as regards security accreditation as well as market and downstream applications development”.
Mr Rodrigo Da Costa, Executive Director of the agency, was our guest speaker during our EOcafe2 dedicated to EUSPA. He emphasized the importance of the mandate set in the Regulation by explaining that EUSPA is the user-oriented operational agency of the EU Space Programme, contributing to the security, safety and sustainable growth of the EU.
Building on the legacy of the GSA, the EU agency for the Space Programme has been entrusted by the European Commission to perform different activities in its new extended role. As the exploitation manager of EGNOS and Galileo, EUSPA is operating and ensuring service provision for the two satellite navigation programmes. Security is a key element described in the Regulation and a matter of increasing importance: EUSPA’s mission is to ensure protection of assets through the Security Accreditation Board3. EUSPA also has responsibilities regarding the development of markets with a special focus on users. In the context of the Regulation’s article 6, the agency is working to support the development of applications with the aim to foster innovation and entrepreneurship. For the EO services community, EUSPA has a mandate to stimulate the development of downstream businesses and companies. In this context, the agency will focus on the enhancement of Copernicus data exploitation and commercialisation with the objective to increase users, businesses and raise competitiveness. On this point, Mr Da Costa expressed a strong conviction that the development of added value applications and solutions will be key to allow end users to benefit from the EU Space programme’s components.
In order to support the development of downstream and integrated applications based on Galileo and Copernicus, EUSPA will take action following three core tasks:
The objective of EUSPA is to support companies by targeting the fields of applications in which there are business opportunities. The achievement of this goal relies on the building of a good knowledge about the user and the market. The agency has developed a market and technology monitoring and forecasting with the publication of various reports such as the Technology report4 or the Market Report5. These reports provide in-depth analysis of global trends and the latest developments of the market. They are an essential tool for all the market players, from research institutions and industry to the different user communities. With new responsibilities under Copernicus, EUSPA wishes to develop the market/user knowledge with Copernicus. There is no doubt that our EARSC Survey into the State and Health of the Earth Observation sector will support EUSPA’s objective as it identifies current and future trends for the European EO Downstream services industry.6
The agency is taking action to support the creation of demand by understanding the elements of the downstream value chain and encouraging dialogue with users through user consultation platforms, user satisfaction surveys or dedicated workshops. The dialogue with users is critical as it helps to identify challenges and problems in different fields and understand how space technologies can help solving these issues. It provides valuable feedback for the industry in order to create business opportunities.
EUSPA is working with different players, from large companies to SMES and start-ups in order to support entrepreneurship. The objective is to create new products and services “made in Europe” and support the large implementation of end-to-end solutions. The agency wants to foster innovation and offer creation by using a set of different tools. Beyond the “traditional” instruments such as procurements and grants, EUSPA also wants to use prizes. The prizes have the advantage of including financial support but also coaching and other support mechanisms (matchmaking events, access to investors…). On 1st September 2021, the agency launched the “myEUspace” competition7 as part of the CASSINI initiative with a €1mln prize pool to support the development of innovative commercial solutions that are leveraging EU space data.
While undertaking all these missions, EUSPA is working in close relationship with the European Commission (EC) and the European Space Agency (ESA). On June 22nd 2021, EUSPA signed a Financial Framework Partnership Agreement with ESA and the EC8. The three organisations work together and cooperate according to their mandates. The EC, as project manager, plays a significant political role by setting the economical, societal and environmental challenges for the EU. EUSPA and ESA are complementary bodies with different responsibilities and different nature. EUSPA, as the market- oriented agency, focuses on the design and development of space-based services which meet the user’s needs while ensuring the market uptake. ESA is an intergovernmental body focusing on research and technology and ensuring the development of upstream activities.
The relationship with Copernicus Entrusted Entities is also fundamental. As EUSPA is in charge of fostering the Copernicus’ user uptake, the collaboration with the Entrusted Entities is crucial. Mr Da Costa outlined that EUSPA has already initiated a dialogue with the Entrusted Entities and wishes to structure this dialogue to cooperate further. This cooperation is necessary to leverage the sectorial experience developed by the Entrusted Entities in order to reach the common objective of gaining users for Copernicus.
In order to support the development of downstream markets based on Galileo, EGNOS and Copernicus, EUSPA wants to foster synergies between the different Space Programme components. The agency has already identified convergent sectors where Copernicus and Galileo have common users and other sectors where there are opportunities to develop. The agricultural sector is a good example of the benefits of the synergetic approach: combining Copernicus and Galileo data will foster the creation of new, innovative products and services and increase users. It is worth adding that even though the synergies can offer many opportunities for the different markets and foster the use of earth observation and navigation, the market uptake will not be limited to this synergetic approach. Each market segment must be analysed also separately to consider dedicated markets.
Further, whilst it is highly appreciated to develop the commercial market ie with private sector customers, the public sector customer must not be forgotten. The EARSC survey shows consistently that around 50% of the market in the EO downstream services sector9 is with the public sector. Consequently, there should be equal attention to the private and the public markets. Mr Da Costa acknowledged the relevance of this concern and asserted that even though EUSPA is focused on the commercialisation of Copernicus (because of its mandate), it aims at complementing the initiatives taken to foster the institutional usage of the EO flagship programme.
As the only European Union agency dedicated to space, EUSPA serves as an essential link between space technology and user needs with a view of translating the EU’s investment in space into valuable and reliable services for European citizens. With the development of downstream businesses and the integrated view of the Copernicus-Galileo future ecosystem, EUSPA will need valuable market/user knowledge about the Earth Observation sector (specificities of the market, current and future trends…) to foster the Copernicus’ user uptake and support companies in the sector. EARSC has a number of projects10 which can support the agency’s activities and looks forward to collaborating further to share knowledge and experiences.
1 The Regulation (EU) 2021/696 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 April 2021 establishing the Union Space Programme and the European Union Agency for the Space Programme was published on in the Official Journal of the European Union on 12 May 2021.
6 You can read our 2020 Industry Survey here: https://earsc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Industry-survey-2020-Final- version-1.pdf. We have been conducting the industry survey since 2012, you can access our previous surveys here: https://earsc.org/publications/
9 See the EARSC Industry Surveys : https://earsc.org/publications/