August 26th, 2020
Dr. Remy Denos, Policy Officer - Space research, innovation and start-ups, DG Defence Industry and Space (DEFIS) of the European Commission (short CV here), shared his viewpoint about the objectives and challenges of the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) for Space as well as the involvement of Academia in shaping SRIA for Space research and its expecting role on implementing SRIA.
In a nutshell, could you briefly explain which are the long term technological and political objectives of the SRIA for Space?
The political goal of the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) for EU-funded Space research supporting competitiveness is to provide consolidated and structured input from the R&I stakeholder community and Member States to the European Commission for the programming of Horizon Europe (2021-2027). The two main objectives 'Foster Competitiveness of space systems' and 'Reinforce Access to Space' are fully aligned with those of the Space Strategy for Europe (COM(2016)705, https://ec.europa.eu/docsroom/documents/19442). Besides, the agenda calls for technological solutions which will support the competiveness of the EU satellite and launcher sectors. The text of the SRIA can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/docsroom/documents/39528.
Which are, in your view, the main challenges and priorities to be faced by the SRIA for Space in the upcoming period? Which are the decisive factors for ensuring the SRIA's for Space best possible transmission into practice?
The challenge ahead is the efficient implementation of this ambitious agenda. A key element will be the budget that will be allocated to space Research and Innovation. At this point of time, there are still a number of negotiations to be finalised before the budget will be known. First, the overall Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027, which will finance all the initiatives of the European Commission including Horizon Europe and the Space Programme, has to be decided upon. Owing to the COVID-19 crisis, the European Commission will table an updated proposal which will include recovery measures. This may cause some delay in the process. Once the budget for Horizon Europe is set, we should know quite quickly the budget for Cluster 4 Digital Industry and Space under Pillar II Global challenges and European industrial competitiveness (EUR 15 Billion in the initial Commission proposal). Then, as the Cluster 4 Work Programme will be elaborated, budget discussions for space R&I will take place. I am confident that we will be ready to launch the first calls of Horizon Europe in 2021.
But beyond budget, we would like to better engage with the stakeholders community in space R&I. With its support, we can be more efficient in programming, planning the calls with agreed roadmaps which have a multi-annual perspective where needed, monitoring the progress, including actions performed by our R&I stakeholders on their own resources.
Academia has been actively involved in shaping SRIA for Space research. What is the expected role of Academia on implementing SRIA?
EASN and its members are part of these R&I stakeholders mentioned earlier and have been active in the frame of the consultation platform that we established in July 2018 and which lead to the drafting and endorsement of the SRIA in December 2019. We count on EASN and its members to be one of the voices of academic research and bring their specific expertise. One of the challenges in the implementation of the SRIA is to align forces along a coherent development line of R&I starting from low TRL up to product and services ready to be adopted by the market and the society. This 'directionality' requires to make the best out of the different competences from academia, research centres and industry, including SMEs. EASN has also a specific role to play regarding questions on education and skills, in particular in relation to the upcoming generation of young talents which the EU space sector needs.
How far-reaching are the SRIA?s for Space ambitions in the frame of the satisfaction of the European Citizens?
With its two flagship constellations Galileo and Copernicus, the European Union owns two unique assets which are providing European citizens with high accuracy global positioning navigation,timing and Earth observation capacities for atmosphere, marine, land, climate change, security and emergency services. The European Commission is also developing two new components: Space Situational Awareness (SSA) to better protect the EU assets in space and GOVSATCOM to offer secured communications to governmental R&I entities.These assets will be funded under Horizon Europe. The SRIA takes another angle that is to foster the competitiveness of the EU space sector which is challenged by a fierce global competition and to reinforce EU capacity to access and use to space with a high level of autonomy. Clearly, it is also in the interest of citizens to support R&I growth and jobs in the field of space and to benefit from this strategic capacity to launch and use space assets.
By concluding this discussion is there any message you would like to pass?
As mentioned earlier, we count on EASN and its members to bring a consolidated academic perspective on the implementation of the SRIA and on actions required at EU level on education and skills.