What are Luxembourg’s strengths in New Space research?
Symeon Chatzinotas. – “The commitment of the Luxembourgish government to developing the country’s New Space sector is very important for researchers, because it provides us with all the tools we need to deliver high-quality results. Here in Luxembourg, you can find several elements that you can’t find in other countries. First of all, there are very generous funding opportunities, from the national research and space agencies, but also from entities such as the European Space Agency and the EU. There are also various instruments that encourage partnerships with private companies, and even public-private partnerships.
Many people see the fact that Luxembourg is a small country as a disadvantage, but I think it is a big advantage. Here, researchers can have easy access to regulators, policy-makers, and politicians – something that is very hard to achieve in other countries. Of course, this is a mutually beneficial relationship, since we align our research with the country’s priorities.
What is the importance of SnT’s relations with private actors and is there a hierarchy of these relations according to whether these actors are start-ups and SMEs or large and very large companies?
“We collaborate with companies by forming strategic partnerships. In this established framework, we have projects, but also regular meetings where we collaborate with companies on future innovations and trends that could impact their long-term strategy. This is a two-way dialogue, as we also absorb their priorities into our research plans in order to deliver practical results. Furthermore, we can build on partnerships through a series of funding instruments set up by national entities to foster research and innovation. This is a mutually beneficial way of collaborating, which has resulted in many success stories.
At SnT, our goal is to continue conducting cutting-edge research as a world-class centre of excellence for technology and innovation in Space. This goal is independent of the size of our partner companies – some of our award-winning research was conducted in collaboration with small companies and start-ups.
How do you see the NewSpace sector evolving in the next years, and what key factor could accelerate its development?
“I think we should capitalise on this ecosystem by making Luxembourg a front-runner for selected elements that are critical in the value chain. A large number of developments right now are happening in the ICT domain. As an example, it might be challenging to establish large-scale hardware manufacturing in Luxembourg, but we can go a long way by focusing on software design and development, essentially working on the systems’ intelligence.
This is the primary focus at SnT – we focus on algorithmic, software-related aspects, which can be very quickly pushed into high technology readiness levels in collaboration with our industrial partners.”