7 February 2008. ESPI today released the report on “Stimulating and sustaining technology innovation in the space sector”. It contains numerous recommendations related to innovation policy.
The final report for this ESPI study, prepared by Rolf Skaar, reflects the outcome of an ESPI workshop where participants from space industry, space agencies and academia brainstormed on how to stimulate and sustain innovation in Europe’s space sector. The report stresses the importance of Europe’s space industry to continue to be globally competitive on the commercial space market like launchers and satellite communication. This commercial business is now threatened both by lower-cost economies like Russia, India and China and from the very advanced technologies developed by US industry for US military satellites.
The report states that the most important driver for sustaining innovation is to fund both demanding missions and develop in time the new technologies needed for such missions. It strongly recommends the space qualifying of commercial technologies through spin-ins and it supports the ESA NewPro (New Programme for Technology and Innovation) to be decided at the next ESA Ministerial Council in November 2008.
The report compares innovation and its funding between the United States and Europe, and gives an insight of the advantage US industry has with the 3 billions US $ a year of DARPA (The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) funding.
The report also provides examples of how prizes may stimulate innovation, and mentions the Ansari-X PRIZE which now is giving birth to space tourism with Sir Richard Branson’s company Virgin Galactic. The report recommends ESA to partner with wealthy philanthropists to offer a European prize award such that the smartest engineers and scientists may participate and thus stimulate entrepreneurship and creativity.
Finally the report reflects on the relationship between space industry and academia and recruitment for space. It strongly recommends closer collaboration and encourages universities to continue to give the young students early hands-on experience by developing student rockets, student satellites and participation in space camps.
This report was presented together with a study on commercialisation in Brussels on 30 January 2008 (link to the webnews on this presentation).
Rolf Skaar, Permanent Resident of the Founders at ESPI