On 28 – 30 September, the ESA Space Solutions annual network meeting took place in Berlin. The event was organized and hosted by ESA BIC Northern Germany and had a total of 20 countries participating – 70 attendees in person, with another 60 joining virtually. After more than a year of travel restrictions and virtual meetings, it was a great opportunity for all existing and new members of the ESA Space Solutions network to connect again in person.
The three day event began on Tuesday 28. September with a sightseeing tour of Berlin, giving everyone an insight into some of the rich history to be found in Germany. In the evening, attendees came together over dinner and drinks, consisting of local cuisine and lively conversation amongst new and old colleagues.
The following day began bright and early with a warm welcome from Frank Salzgeber, Head of Innovation and Ventures Office (TIA-AI), and Niels Eldering, Head of the ESA Space Solutions Section (CIP-CB).
New team members were introduced to the ESA Network – ESA BIC Greece, ESA BIC Italy Turin, ESA BIC Sweden, ESA BIC Hungary as well as the new Managing Director of cesah, Andreas Kanstein. This was followed by two Q&A sessions looking at case studies and the expectations of widened cooperation for ESA.
After a short coffee break, attendees were invited to a presentation given by Geraldine Naja, Acting Director of Commercialization Industry and Procurement. This presentation focused on the commercialization and need to stimulate a dynamic commercial space ecosystem to help support green and digital transformations, in line with the 2025 Agenda for ESA.
Another round of lively Q&As followed and closed with an open discussion on collaboration in the S2 network by Matijn Leinweber and Thomas Ballatré.
Thursday morning was welcomed with a full schedule. The ESA BIC, Ambassador and Broker Sessions took place simultaneously, with both present and virtual attendees joining.
In the ESA BIC Session, Stefan Gustafsson gave a detailed overview on the current state of the network, startup statistics as well as introduced new documentation and reporting practices. Meanwhile in the Ambassador Session, Frank Salzgeber introduced the reorganization of the network, followed by updates, strategic ideas for the future and a Q&A. The Broker Session allowed for individual broker updates as well as a look at ESA Spark Funding and the successes so far, which was lead by Dr. Johannes Schmidt.
The afternoon continued with multiple discussions and presentations. Some of these included discussions on methods and tools for scouting new startups, results of research activities and programmes of interest in the management of an ESA BIC, presentations on technology transfer and patent management, downstream gateways and new opportunities.
The ESA Space Solutions annual network meeting was a welcomed opportunity for all attendees to learn more about the progress ESA has made in the past year and what can be done to ensure more successes in the future. While there were many highlights to be had during the three day event, what was most obvious was the excitement and energy felt by all attendees, near and far. As everyone said their goodbyes and packed up to go back home, it was clear that everyone would be seeing each other again soon, with even more motivation and more great ideas.