United for Space Innovation: South Holland and Bremen at Space Tech Expo Europe 2023
The 6th edition of Space Tech Expo Europe, held from November 14 to 16, 2023, in Bremen, Germany, marked a significant milestone in the space sector. With more than 7500 professionals and 650 exhibitors, this event became a thriving hub for collaboration, discussion, and groundbreaking discoveries. In this article, we dive into the key highlights of Space Tech Expo Europe 2023, focusing on the dynamic participation of NL Space Pavilion, the collaborative efforts between South Holland and Bremen, and the Action Agenda 2.0's strategic commitment to strengthen the space industry through international partnerships and educational initiatives.
Space Tech Expo Europe 2023: A Milestone Event in the Space Sector
The 6th edition of Space Tech Expo Europe is a landmark event in the space sector, taking place from 14-16 November 2023 in Bremen, Germany. With over 7500 professionals and 650 exhibitors, including industry giants and innovative startups, this event is a hub for collaboration, debate, and discovery. Gordy McHattie, the Event Director, highlights its significance as a premier space B2B event, showcasing an expanded exhibition space and the new Exhibitor Technology Forum. Complementing the expo, three conference stages hosted over 150 speakers addressing critical topics like sustainability, space traffic management, and digitalisation in the space sector.
NL Space Pavilion at Space Tech Expo: Why are We Here?
With its distinctive orange pavilion, NL Space emerged as a key participant at the expo. Powered by the Netherlands Space Office (NSO), it was a nexus for Dutch space ingenuity and international collaboration. The pavilion focused on the growing domain of smaller, cheaper satellites, showcasing the Netherlands' prowess in New Space.
Maaike Smelter, the Community Manager at NL Space Campus, emphasised the twin pillars of the Dutch mission in Bremen:
"In our view, we are pursuing two major goals right now. Firstly, being part of a booth at a conference is crucial for our ecosystem building. Here, we work closely with Dutch organisations, strengthening relationships and leading to informal brainstorming and idea generation. Secondly, we're actively engaging with the young professional, student, and startup community in Bremen through events like Connecting the Curious. As the ESA technology broker, we're looking to connect various ESA BICs across Europe and transform the Space Tech Expo into a hub for startups from all over Europe to come together."
The participants of the NL Space Pavilion included an impressive array of companies, each contributing their unique expertise to the grand tapestry of Dutch space innovation. Among these notable names were West End Technologies, cosine, Technolution, Airbus, Airborne, Avatar, Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre, NL Space Campus, NXT Gen, Sparkwing, Netherlands Space Office, SpaceNed, Aerospace Delta South Holland, and S[&]T. As we delved deeper into the motivations of these companies for their participation, Jan Terlingen, Business Developer Aerospace at InnovationQuarter, presenting the Aerospace Delta, shared his perspective:
We have two main reasons for being here. First, we want to showcase and represent the South Holland space ecosystem, which is why we have developed this map includes all the companies and organisations located in our region. We aim to attract new foreign companies interested in joining our ecosystem by expanding their activities to our region or by finding partnerships with our existing companies and institutes. It grabs attention and prompts people to ask, 'Who's located in South Holland?
The second reason is to connect with our ecosystem within the Netherlands while we're here. Meeting new people, catching up, attending presentations, and discovering new collaborations is essential. This event provides an ideal setting for that."
Jan Terlingen also emphasised the collaborative spirit between South Holland and Bremen and the vital role played by the province of South Holland in fostering these connections. Looking ahead to the future, he expressed the hope for a more prominent presence of young professionals and students, underscoring the importance of nurturing the next generation of talent. As he concluded, "The booth is busy and attracts a lot of interest from the next generation's talent, which gives us a positive outlook for the future".
In this dynamic environment of the NL Space Pavilion, Dutch companies and organisations found common ground, highlighting the significance of their participation in an event that transcends borders and propels the space industry forward.
Forging Stronger Bonds: Collaborative Endeavours Between South Holland and Bremen
Bremen and South Holland share common ground as European regions with a notable concentration of industrial, research, and scientific space activities. Germany and the Netherlands have played foundational roles in space exploration development, founding partners of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Union (EU). The existing network of industrial and research partnerships between space cluster actors in both regions forms a strong foundation for their collaboration, which aims to strengthen the space industry and research ties further.
Building upon this common ground, the Action Agenda 2023-2026, also known as Action Agenda 2.0, signifies a strategic commitment by Bremen and South Holland to harness their collective strengths in industrial, research, and scientific space activities.
This action plan comprises two key elements. Firstly, it involves organising Business to Business (B2B) and Business-to-knowledge (B2K) network meetings at major international space events, such as the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) and Space Tech Expo Europe. These gatherings aim to foster R&D and business cooperation, intending to host at least two events annually. A digital platform called "Connecting Space Regions" facilitates matchmaking among stakeholders, supported by the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) to aid SMEs in internationalising and innovating.
Commenting on this action, Renate Beausoleil, Senior Policy Officer of Economic Affairs with the Province of South Holland, highlighted its significant impact. The launch of the Action Agenda last year set the stage for various collaborative actions for example, in the field of space education. Despite challenges in coordinating academic schedules, promising activities like joint developed education and joint interdisciplinary projects with master students from TU Delft and Bremen-based companies were initiated. Workshops at Space Tech Expo proved successful and laid the groundwork for future progress. A key focus now is exploring the Horizon Europe Programme for digitisation, aiming to submit collaborative projects to the European Commission, fostering growth and consortia building.
Peter Batenburg, Project Manager of the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Universities Space for Science & Society programme, underscores the ongoing collaboration's multifaceted nature. While the workshop, which took place at Space Tech Expo Europe 2023, aimed to enhance collaboration in space education across regions, universities and sectors, existing programs and industry involvement have been ongoing for several years. Valuable insights from companies emphasise the importance of bridging the gap between students and industry through alternative means.
For organisations interested in joining these initiatives, Peter Batenburg encourages reaching out to the universities involved, including the University of Bremen: ‘Companies can reach out to me or contact the other universities, including the University of Bremen. We're open to discussing their goals and how we can integrate them into our collaboration.’
The collaboration between Bremen and South Holland, supported by the Action Agenda 2.0, represents a concerted effort to enhance space activities, promote innovation, and strengthen the space industry through strategic partnerships and educational initiatives.
Additionally, the Action Agenda underscores the significance of collaboration between the ESA Business Incubation Centers (BICs) in Bremen and South Holland and the development of partnerships between knowledge institutions in the Netherlands and Bremen. These proactive initiatives are strategically aligned with the overarching goal of facilitating collaboration, fostering innovation, and strengthening the space industry.
Carolina Gomez, a Project Assistant at ESA BIC Northern Germany, highlighted the extensive collaboration between the Netherlands and Bremen in the space sector, stating, 'The collaboration between the Netherlands and Bremen, particularly in the space sector, is quite extensive. We have a specific collaboration program with the region of South Holland, where we organise events connecting space regions with Bremen. This year, we hosted a delegation from the Netherlands, which visited Bremen and engaged with companies in northern Germany, including Bremen. Additionally, there are numerous side events around the Space Tech Expo where collaboration occurs. One notable aspect is our cooperation with the SBICs (Space Business Innovation Centers) in Noordwijk and NL Space Campus. We organise special events like 'Connecting the Curious' in Bremen, a joint effort involving both ESA BICs and NL Space Campus.'
Carolina Gomez further elaborated on the opportunities available, stating, 'We want to provide opportunities for startups and individuals to get involved. If you're a startup or a student interested in space, you can contact us through email or other means. Our focus is primarily on startup operations, and we are part of the ESA BIC (European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre) network. We aim to connect startups, promote interactions, and help them find synergies for collaboration.'
Continuing our exploration of collaboration within the space sector, we now turn our attention to Martijn Leinweber, Chief Operating Officer at ESA BIC Noordwijk, who provides insights into the collaboration between the Netherlands and Bremen.
Martijn Leinweber elaborates on their approach:
"Our collaboration primarily involves connecting ESA BICs (European Space Agency Business Incubation Centres). This connection goes beyond the events, as ESA BICs continuously work together to facilitate interactions. For instance, if a startup in one ESA BIC expresses interest in connecting with a company from another ESA BIC, we actively facilitate these connections. One of the noteworthy events in this regard is 'Connecting the Curious,' where startups from various ESA BICs, including those from Bremen and the Netherlands, can pitch their ideas and offerings, fostering meaningful interactions."
He further emphasises the importance of these ongoing connections, highlighting their commitment to creating a supportive environment for startups to thrive and collaborate, not only during major events but as a continuous and integral part of their approach to fostering innovation and growth in the space sector.
During Space Tech Expo Europe, a startup incubated at ESA BIC Noordwijk, Revolv Space, announced a significant milestone, securing U-Space Nanosatellites as their first commercial customer, with plans to integrate key satellite equipment in 2024. Filippo Oggionni, co-founder of Revolv Space, shares their journey.
"I'm one of the co-founders of Revolv Space, and we've been incubated at ESA BIC for over a year. Being at ESA BIC provides support, coaching, and mentoring to enhance our technology and business model. Bremen is a key location for us as an equipment provider because it brings together the European space industry, allowing us to connect with new people and build relationships."
He highlights how ESA BIC facilitates connections and experiences in Bremen, including booth opportunities at the Expo and side events that promote networking. Filippo also expresses their plans for the future, aiming to have more visibility with a dedicated booth at Space Tech Expo Europe in the coming year.
This multi-faceted collaboration between regions and startups, supported by the Action Agenda 2.0, demonstrates a concerted effort to enhance space activities, promote innovation, and strengthen the space industry through strategic partnerships and educational initiatives.
Connecting the Curious 2023: A Resounding Success in Bremen
In a celebration of innovation and collaboration, "Connecting the Curious. Bremen Edition" took place on 15 November. This exclusive networking event was a joint effort by ESA BIC Noordwijk, ESA BIC Northern Germany, and NL Space Campus. It brought together students, young professionals, and startups from the space industry and community, providing a platform to share ideas and foster connections.
The event's resounding success from the previous year set high expectations. In 2022, "Connecting the Curious" featured an impressive lineup, with over 15 captivating pitches and a lively crowd of more than 100 enthusiastic attendees. The evening was marked by numerous new connections and partnerships, making it an event to remember.
In 2023, 'Connecting the Curious' surpassed these expectations with an even more impressive lineup. This year, the event featured 30 captivating pitches, drawing a lively crowd of more than 100 enthusiastic attendees who had registered.
For startups, this gathering served as a golden opportunity to pitch their groundbreaking concepts and innovations, drawing the attention of potential partners, clients, and collaborators. Attendees were treated to an array of inspiring pitches and had the chance to network extensively, staying updated on the latest developments in the dynamic field of space exploration.
While we eagerly anticipate the arrival of "Connecting the Curious 2024," we'd like to remind you about our monthly NL Space Campus Networking and Drinks. Every last Thursday of the month at 17:00 CET, we host a special Network and Drinks gathering. It's open to everyone interested in the space industry. At these events, multiple start-ups and innovative companies pitch their potential and ideas, allowing you to expand your network. The event takes place on campus at the Space Business Innovation Centre Noordwijk. If you have an initiative, organisation, or project you'd like to share, you can apply for a 3-minute pitch. Together, we cultivate the NL Space campus as a meeting place for the space-interested community, where entrepreneurs, educators, researchers, government representatives, and environmental enthusiasts converge.
NL Space Campus: A Hub for Dutch Space Innovation
Back in the Netherlands, the NL Space Campus stands as the gateway to the Dutch Space Cluster. Collaborating with ESA's technical heart, ESTEC, the Galileo Reference Centre, and the strong Dutch space cluster, including the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus universities alliance, NL Space Campus has become a crucial European Space Hub.
At NL Space Campus, we foster online and offline connections, seeking new and more effective ways to bridge the gap between knowledge and its application. Our agenda includes technology spin-out and spin-in activities to facilitate cross-sector thinking and transform space data and technology into high-tech products and services.
Located in Noordwijk, home to ESA's technical heart ESTEC, the Galileo Reference Centre (GRC), SBIC Noordwijk hosting the ESA BIC programme, and Space Expo, NL Space Campus offers an inspiring location to visit, meet, and work.
NL Space Campus is where science and research evolve into solutions and business opportunities, addressing challenges for a better planet and society. Collaborating with industry-leading companies, knowledge institutes, scale-ups, and start-ups, NL Space Campus creates the optimal ecosystem for innovation. As a catalyst for growth, the campus facilitates, stimulates, and implements groundbreaking ideas.
On a national level, NL Space Campus opens up the Dutch space cluster as a gateway, welcoming over 200,000 visitors each year and representing the entire Dutch space cluster to the outside world. It's the starting point in space for every student, scientist, and (young) professional. NL Space Campus connects with regional business and knowledge clusters in space-related segments such as aerospace engineering, high-tech systems, materials and structures, astronomy, and space law.
As a physical location in Noordwijk, NL Space Campus houses key players in the Dutch space industry and offers an ideal environment to work, meet, get inspired, and grow your business. With over 70 space companies, 200,000 annual visitors, and a community of 3,000+ high-tech professionals, NL Space Campus is an international hotspot for space research and innovation, bridging the gap between knowledge and its practical application.
NL Space Campus provides a range of facilities, including technical facilities to support businesses, meeting spaces, and spaces for hardware testing, assembly, and integration. Short and long-term lease workspaces, meeting rooms, and testing facilities are available to cater to various needs.
If you're interested in being a part of NL Space Campus and exploring the opportunities it offers for talents, start-ups, scale-ups, and businesses, let's connect and discuss your aspirations and how we can make them a reality.