GSA in the innovation driver’s seat

Knowledge, innovation and business support serve as the springboard for Galileo and EGNOS.

Knowledge, innovation and business support serve as the springboard for Galileo and EGNOS.

With Galileo Initial Services set to launch later this year, positioning the global navigation satellite system (GNSS) downstream market to take full advantage of the programme continues to be a hot topic. Here the European GNSS Agency (GSA) is taking the lead, working with the European Commission, to support the development of a sustainable GNSS downstream market by fostering European GNSS adoption.

Speaking at a recent workshop hosted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), GSA Head of Market Development Gian Gherardo Calini discussed how innovation drives downstream space activities and what the GSA is doing to support this. According to Calini, the key drivers for innovation in GNSS include information, knowledge exchange, the generation of new business ideas, direct support to new technology adoption, research and development (R&D) technology and a robust policy framework.

“Education drives tomorrow’s innovation, building cutting-edge competences in European GNSS, cross-fertilising the skills and strengthening European industry’s position in the global market,” he says. “The GSA believes that education in European GNSS is key to ensuring the success of Galileo and EGNOS.”

“In the downstream space domain, European GNSS – Galileo and EGNOS – can be a major game changer, representing a catalyst to ignite evolution in the GNSS industry, service provision, application development and technological advances,” adds Greg Sadlier of London Economics, also speaking at the event. “Through education, capacity building and knowledge transfer, the GSA is raising awareness of the opportunities offered by European GNSS and how all segments, from Aviation to the Internet of Things, can benefit from the guidance and resources provided by the GSA to turn research into innovative market opportunities, and economic growth.”

In support of this push to raise awareness about European GNSS, the GSA has been actively involved in the promotion of a number of tools and projects. For example, the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)-funded GENIUS project supported and nurtured a network of universities and research institutions active in the provision of GNSS training in the area of satellite navigation technologies, applications and services. The project laid the foundation for the development of pan-European collaborations that enabled technology transfer between universities, research institutes and industry.

Likewise, the Horizon 2020-funded E-KnoT project is focused on strengthening the interaction between three areas: education, research and industry in Europe. It is leveraging on past activities already undertaken in the field in order to strengthen this European GNSS knowledge triangle. The end result will be a solid network for the creation of a critical mass involving relevant actors coming together to support the development of Europe’s economy.

Building businesses

“Once the proper skills are established, we need to support the actual entrepreneur, SME or business by making proper market knowledge readily available,” says Calini. “On this point, the GSA is leading the way with its GNSS Market Report, which is recognised worldwide as a comprehensive source of knowledge and information on the GNSS global market.” The report, which is available for download free of charge, not only covers the GNSS market in general, but also provides market segment specific analysis.

In addition to the Market Report, the GSA is also involved in an array of activities aimed at providing support to European businesses leveraging the power of GNSS. For example, the agency helps European industry carve out a share of the lucrative Asian market via such international knowledge exchange initiatives as GNSS Asia and the BELS project. It also sponsors numerous contests and awards aimed at stimulating innovation, including the GSA Special Prize, part of the annual European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC). The GSA Special Prize supports the best ideas and applications that utilise Galileo’s Initial Services and the power of a multi-constellation environment to provide new and more robust benefits to the end-user.

Support for adoption, e.g. by key players in the downstream market value chain, is also very important, especially for central actors like chipset and receiver manufacturers. As a result of the GSA’s commitment to supporting innovation and helping companies take their ideas to commercialisation, such as through the Horizon 2020 programme and Fundamental Elements initiative, 17 chipset and receiver manufacturers already adopted Galileo this year, up from just 3 in 2010 – now representing more than 95 % of the total global supply.

“Here I can say with confidence that the GSA is in the driver’s seat with our foot firmly on the innovation accelerator,” concludes Calini.

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