On March 20, 2023, the IEEC and NEREUS co-organized the event “Regions as Key Players in European Space Policy” at the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to the European Union. The purpose of the event was to emphasize the role of European regions in Europe’s space policy. The discussion was divided into two panels, the first focusing on Catalonia’s contribution to space exploration, and the second on regional space activities that impact the European space strategy.
The conference was opened by Mr. Ignasi Centelles, the Representative of the Government of Catalonia to the EU, who discussed the catalytic role of space in the future development of regions and highlighted the importance his region puts on the digital transition and combining space and digital technologies. Mr. Thierry Cotelle, Regional Councillor of the Occitanie region and NEREUS President outlined NEREUS’s role in promoting the interests of European regions that use space technologies for the benefit of citizens. You may watch his video presentation here
With this, he extended the invitation to the upcoming Regional Symposium 2023 focused on using space data for agriculture and tourism organised in Matera/Basilicata, Italy on 28-29 September 2023.
The first panel, moderated by Mr. Lluís Juncà, DG for Innovation, Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship at the Government of Catalonia, focused on space exploration in the past and present. Mr. Joan Anton Català highlighted the contribution of Joan Oró, a Catalan biochemist associated with NASA’s early efforts to find life beyond planet Earth. The other two panellists, Ms. Mariona Badenas and Mr. Francesco Gòdia presented two experiments which are at the forefront of space exploration.
The second panel of the programme, which focused on how regions can best contribute to the EU’s space policy and programmes, was moderated by Ms. Roya Ayazi, the Secretary General of NEREUS. Ms. Paraskevi Papantoniou, Director for Space at DG DEFIS, European Commission, emphasized in a video message that regions are important users and procurers of space-based services, and the EU’s space programmes focus on the needs of citizens to tackle challenges in the public sector. Then, Ms. Isabella Poldrugo, Deputy Head of Unit for Space Policy at the European Commission, emphasized the significance of the regional dimension and synergies in developing a coherent European space policy. From the side of the ESA, Mr Xavier Lobao, Head of Future Projects Division at ESA, presented ‘the Global Space4Earth Goals of ESA and the New Space Paradigm’ and the role of innovation at the regional level.
During the panel discussion, Mr. Cotelle noted that NEREUS empowers regions and their stakeholders to use space-based information and services to address regional challenges quoting the Copernicus4regions project. Next, Mr. Jalil Benabdillah, Vice-President in charge of the Economy, Employment, Innovation and Reindustrialisation of the Occitanie / Pyrénées-Mediterranée Region, elaborated on the Occitanie’s space ecosystem and the activities in defining a regional space strategy. Ms. Fulvia Quagliotti, President of the Piedmont Aerospace District, presented the Piedmont space ecosystem (link), which is an aerospace district and a facilitator for SMEs to help them grow and support them in their projects and interaction with academia and research centres. Ignasi Ribas, Director of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC), discussed the Catalan space sector and its relationship with the regional government (link).
The event was attended by over 90 participants and was part of a series of events being planned in Europe and the USA to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Joan Oró (1923-2004). You may download the full follow-up here (link).