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Royal visit to the campus has surely made impact

25 april 2022
Royal visit to the campus has surely made impact

On April 7 we excitedly received our King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima at NL Space Campus! In the Space Business Innovation Centre in Noordwijk (SBIC) they met with startups Mapture.ai, Trabotyx, Carble and SmartQare, that are working on applications of knowledge and technology from space. Agriculture, security, sustainability and healthcare are important subjects of today. After that the royal couple joined a discussion with representatives from the space cluster about how to stimulate the development of the campus and how to further strengthen the cluster. We are thankful for the royal couple to share their interest in the Dutch Space Industry. They were very well prepared, very interested and Queen Maxima, as an economist, had valuable advices, including how to attract major business players to the area.

Jaap Smit, the Queen's Commissioner, accompanied the meeting and asked Esther Peters to explain the importance of the NL Space Campus development. Social and economic issues are increasing and with them the complexity, which calls for innovative solutions. Esther Peters emphasized that space is an enabling technology and can also bring about innovations in other sectors (also with regard to major social issues). A strong Innovation ecosystem can contribute greatly to this. A place and an ecosystem where people can work together and come together. Open innovation is important. Easily accessible. Bringing together entrepreneurs, education, research and government and allowing them to share knowledge. 25% of the success of high-tech innovation is determined by technological innovation and 75% by social innovation.

Space Campus's mission is to bring these groups of blood together, to be a meeting place and a beating heart. We have ESA ESTEC, GRC, Space Expo, SBIC and the art of connecting them to the space ecosystem. 80% of the space industry is based in Zuid-Holland. Together with the cluster, we are a strong European Space Hub! 

Connecting the curious is the pay off of NL Space Campus. The trick is to make space more down to earth and build bridges. Within the space cluster, but also explicitly to other sectors. And we do this in many ways. In addition to developing the area to facilitate congregation, we have numerous programming (community management, business development, knowledge development, project development) to facilitate and encourage this.

During the visit Joerg Wehner of ESA ESTEC emphasised the importance of campus development also for ESA ESTEC and the stimulation of open innovation. Amongst other things, this is done through the monthly NL Space Campus Network & Drinks, the Curiosity series and the Fablab that is now in the final planning phase, together with the strong collaboration with the LDE universities. Arnaud de Jong of TNO indicated that non-space companies can also make a valuable contribution to the chain and that it is important to link new national developments (such as LaserSatCom) to campus development. A demo production street of LaserSatCom could and should, for example, land in Noordwijk. Henri Werij emphasised the importance of space for making the Netherlands future-proof. TU Delft has a lot of knowledge and expertise. The trick is to link this even more strongly to ESA ESTEC, as this has the potential to deliver even more innovation. NL Space Campus as a logical development to link and strengthen this cooperation. This is already happening and could be even stronger. 

In addition to ESA ESTEC, the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus universities alliance is an important 'knowledge hub' of the campus, said Wim van den Doel (Dean LDE universities). Bringing together complementary knowledge and stimulating entrepreneurship and applications is something we do together with NL Space Campus and ESA ESTEC in the Space for Science and Society Programme. Wim can't wait for students to work on concrete assignments in the Fablab, for example. 

This summer, the first LDE NL Space Campus Summerschool will take place, where students will also work on challenges. Next to ESA ESTEC is the Galileo Reference Centre (GRC) in Noordwijk. Bas van der Hoeven of CGI indicated that we can use and connect to this even better. The importance of GNSS in a changing world (autonomous transport, critical infrastructure, security) is great. For this reason, the GNSS Centre of Excellence is being set up (together with, among others, partners S&T, NLR, NSO and NL Space Campus). 

Esther Peters emphasised that the vision on space could be stronger in the Netherlands. That vision must be related to the development of the campus and can further support and direct this development. It would help if space was higher up on the administrative agenda (interdepartmental) and it would be good if NSO (as an important partner of NL Space Campus) were higher positioned within the central government.

The complete regional visit (also to Lisse and Katwijk) was concluded at NL Space Campus during drinks in the Space Business Innovation Centre, where King's Commissioner Jaap Smit took the floor to thank all those present and also emphasised the potential of this region. King Willem Alexander had a closing speech in which he indicated how much he and Queen Maxima enjoyed the visit and were also inspired by the diversity of the area and the beautiful and valuable things that are being undertaken here. He called for good cooperation and made an appeal to keep them informed of the follow-up actions to the plans that were shared with them this day. 




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