Joint ESA/Poland Mid Term Review that took place in Warsaw on 1 June.
On the occasion of the joint ESA/Poland Mid Term Review that took place in Warsaw on 1 June, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and Janusz Piechociński, Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and the Polish Space Minister Grażyna Henclewska underlined the growth and significant potential of the Polish space sector since the accession of Poland to ESA in 2012.
Representatives of ESA, the Polish Minister of Economy and the European Commission met in Warsaw to review the positive impact of Poland’s accession to ESA on the space sector in Poland as well as the integration of Poland in ESA programmes and activities.
In November 2012, Poland became ESA’s 20th Member State. The space experts in Warsaw not only evaluated the first years of Poland’s transition phase, but also outlined the perspectives and recommendations for the Polish space sector based on the “Joint ESA/Poland Mid Term Review Report” which was endorsed in May. The high level meeting was joined by Daniel Calleja y Crespo, the Director General at the DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs as well as Prof. Johann-Dietrich Wörner, currently Chairman of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and as of 1 July 2015 the next Director General of ESA.
Increasing competitiveness of Polish industry
The main conclusions of the “Joint ESA/Poland Mid Term Review Report” point out the increasing competitiveness of Polish industry (especially in the downstream added value industry), as well as its involvement in the development of innovative space technologies. There are reasonable expectations that the geographical return will be achieved at the end of the respective optional programme subscription periods, and the mandatory programme.
Poland and ESA
Before Poland’s accession to ESA, the country had already been an ESA Cooperating State for four years allowing Polish institutes, universities and industries to participate indirectly in ESA programmes and activities through their involvement in preparatory science and technology activities relevant to space. Poland now participates in the ESA mandatory programmes and in several ESA optional programmes. Since the accession, a transition scheme has been put in place within ESA for direct support to Polish industry over a period of 5 years. Its objective is to adapt Polish industry to ESA’s activities and requirements.
The “Joint ESA/Poland Mid Term Review Report” presents findings and recommendations in 6 fields: academia and industry relationship (1), fostering investment in space (2), the extension of the Industry Incentive Scheme duration (3), downstream sector (4), economic operators training (5), Polish space public institutions (6).
First recommendation and finding – academia and industry relationship
In Poland, there is an excellent academic knowledge base to grow future competitive space firms but there is not yet sufficient space industrial heritage and still limited motivation for private capital investment. The academic institutions have experience in the development of scientific instruments or parts of them (in particular optical), availability of spacecraft platform and microwave technologies is not demonstrated yet in ESA programmes and efforts are being made to focus the interest of Polish economic operators having the needed capacities.
Recommendation #1: a cooperation between industry and academia, building on the strengths of the academic network and in the respect of their natural roles, should be encouraged and re-enforced maintaining an adequate balance between academic institutions and industry. It is as well recommended to increase the awareness and interest of students to scientific and engineering disciplines related to space.
Second recommendation and finding – fostering investment in space
Recommendation #2: To encourage the involvement in space activities of national firms from other sectors than space in order to consolidate the Polish industrial capacity, and to foster national and foreign investment in Polish space firms. In this frame a National Space Strategy, covering also national security aspects, with measurable objectives, resources and a clear medium to long-term plan for institutional expenditure in space would support this undertaking.
Third recommendation and finding- the extension of the Industry Incentive Scheme duration
ESA points out that Polish economic operators are actively involved in ESA tender system EMITS. Remarkable results have been achieved by i.e. three different economic operators wining contracts in open competition for Sentinel 5 and Exomars missions, as well as Proba-3 mission. There are good expectations for gaining further competitive bids in METOP SG.
The pacing of ESA programmes (where typically, on average, there is one opportunity for the selection of EOEP satellite subcontractors every 3 years and a selection of subcontractors for large science mission every 5) was not in good timing with the Accession of Poland to the ESA Convention. This timing did not provide to Polish economic operators sufficient opportunities to bid in large ESA projects. A period of 7 years for the Industry Incentive Scheme would allow compensating for the effect of the sub-contractor selection timing in ESA programmes.
Extend the transition period and its associated Polish Industry Incentive Scheme to 2019. The PLIIS should, in its following period,
- a) re-enforce the support in the creation of industrial partnerships and the participation of Polish industry in international consortia.
- b) re-enforce the emphasis on flight hardware activities, especially those using previously developed platform-related technologies in Poland,
- c) support R&D in advanced technologies for future spacecraft and increase of TRL, and activities to prepare small missions
- d) re-enforce the emphasis on preparatory activities that support qualification of staff, facilities and processes, development of supplier networks, etc. and
Fourth recommendation and finding – downstream sector
The Polish downstream industry is mature enough to sustain a commercial activity and to win ESA projects. Polish downstream economic operators are the most well prepared to start faring well in ESA without PLIIS support. In addition the impact on the long term achievement of geographical return goals is lower in the case of downstream projects.
Recommendation #4: To further promote competitiveness of the Polish downstream applications sector and increase national investment in downstream activities (including increased participation in pertinent ESA programmes).
Fifth recommendation and finding – economic operators training
It is crucial for Polish economic operators to gain knowledge about ESA space missions, upstream infrastructure space market, and procurement practices in these missions quite often remains, in industry, at theoretic level and it looks like the full practical implications have not yet been understood.
Recommendation #5: A specific course on procurement, process and policy on ESA missions should be devised and delivered (teaching both, administration and space business). Access to information on the space market by sectors would be needed to allow Polish industry to have a clearer visibility of the market, their competitors and potential partners. Additional courses on Quality and Product Assurance and Cost audits for Polish industry and academia will also be organized
Sixth recommendation and finding – Polish space public institutions
In the countries with large space potential the National Space Agency is the single organization with the responsibility for space and is, as well, the single interlocutor for ESA.
Recommendation #6 To speed up the process leading to a full operational Polish Space Agency, being the single executive responsible for space activities in Poland and providing efficient communication and information diffusion lines to the Polish space economic operators.