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Slovenia will strengthen cooperation in the optional programmes of the European Space Agency (ESA)

  • Ministry of Economic Development and Technology

The two-day CM22 session of the ESA Council, which was attended by the State Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology Matevž Frangež, has concluded in Paris. He also participated in the OECD Green Growth and Sustainable Development Forum entitled Green Innovation and the Impact of Economic Shocks.

At the session, high representatives of the ESA member states confirmed the new ESA programmes, secured funds for their implementation and confirmed three resolutions: on the ESA programmes and activities, on the amount of funds for the performance of the basic activities of the agency and the Guiana Space Centre and on the strategic test infrastructure in the 2023- 2027 period.

State Secretary Matevž Frangež noted at the session that the space sector in Slovenia had been recording rapid growth in the last six years. He added that: "Space technology plays an important role in the effective tackling of new challenges such as climate change, digitisation, and security, as well as in stimulating the entire economy. Slovenia will therefore strengthen its cooperation with the ESA relative to the competences and potential of Slovenian companies and institutions."

Slovenia will increase its contribution to the ESA programmes in 2022 and 2023 from EUR 3 million to EUR 5.8 million in annual payments. At the session, Slovenia also agreed to participate in the following programmes: Digital Twin of Earth (as part of the Earth Observation programme), Investing in Industrial Innovation (InCubed as part of the Earth Observation programme) and Business Applications and Space Solutions (BASS as part of the ARTES programme).

In addition, Slovenia has confirmed participation in the four ESE optional programmes in which it has participated so far, specifically: the General Support Technology Programme (GSTP), the Earth Observation (EO) programme, the PRODEX science programme and the Human and Robotic Exploration Programme (E3P 3).

By signing the upgraded Association Agreement with the ESA in 2020, Slovenia upgraded its cooperation, with the goal of becoming a full member.

Slovenia draws approximately 30% more funds than it pays in, and the economic multiplier created by these investments reaches five-fold of the investments. The planned long-term effect of the participation of Slovenian companies and research institutions in the ESA programmes is even greater, as Slovenia wants to develop completely new industries with high added value, which are already emerging around the Slovenian space industry.

In recent years, quite a few companies have taken advantage of the opportunity and successfully competed in the ESA tenders. More than 60 contracts with a total value of more than 17.7 million have been signed. Certain companies and institutions have successfully upgraded their cooperation with the ESA as part of the Horizon 2020 instrument or have concluded large commercial deals in international markets.

Companies and institutions which are active in hi-tech or space exploration and which are globally competitive with their products or services are, for example, Sinergise, Skylabs, Balmar, Dewesoft, Duol, Cosylab, Vesolje-SI, the Jožef Štefan Institute, The Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU), Geocodis, the University of Ljubljana, the University of Maribor, the University of Nova Gorica and others.

The decisions adopted at the CM22 session of the ESA Council will enable continuity for companies and institutions that already cooperate with the ESA, as well as for new ones (especially in the field of breakthrough technologies, in which Slovenia is at the very top in terms of development). Companies that develop innovative technologies and products, but are not usually active in space exploration (e.g. propulsion systems, sensors, electronics, 3D printing, robotics, etc.), will also be able to participate. Development of innovative and commercially sustainable products and services will therefore be supported.

A video with statements from the member states is available on the ESA website.