WIA-E Rome & American Embassy briefing on “How Space drives innovation and economic development”

The event was jointly organised by WIA-E and the American Embassy and based on the opportunity to have as special guest Professor Danielle Wood. She serves as an Assistant Professor in the Program in Media Arts and Sciences within the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the frame of the Media Lab, Prof. Wood leads the Space Enabled Research Group which seeks to advance justice in earth's complex systems using designs enabled by space.

Nowadays, the space sector has a crucial role in supporting a safe and active economic growth worldwide. She has inspired our round table, with representative actors of space, by drawing the attention on the topic of sustainable development driven by space technologies and changing of space arena. .

The event was held at the Engineering Faculty of Sapienza University of Rome and it reported considerable success among the participants. The meeting main objectives included sharing WIA message to support an inclusive space-related workforce and promoting collaboration between academia, industries and non-space entities to enhance the economic development.

The meeting started with a brief welcome by Annamaria Nassisi, the local group co-leader and the WIA-E Director of Communication. As opening speech, she gave a talk about WIA vision, describing the association structure and history, the network mission and the local groups distribution. The opportunities for grants and awards were introduced to encourage young talents to apply. She mentioned the corporate members and partners and concluded presenting the advantages in subscribing to WIA Europe.

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Then, Prof. Fabio Santoni took the floor representing Sapienza University of Rome as the hosting organization, personally thanking the audience for the large participation at the event and giving the floor to Prof. Danielle Wood.

She gave an excellent keynote speech titled “Space Technology Enables Sustainable Development”. She pointed out the meaning of “sustainable development”: it aims not only at preserving the environment for future generations, but also at guaranteeing space data can be employed to effectively improve the present life on Earth. She focussed on six different space technologies actually supporting a sustainable development: Satellite Earth Observation, Positioning & Navigation, Communication, Human Space Flight and Microgravity Research, Space Technology Transfer, Inspiration from Research and Education. She introduced the Space Enabled Research Group implementing projects with development leaders at the multi-lateral, national, regional and local scale to apply space technology in support of their initiatives. During these projects, Space Enabled implements an integrated design process that includes techniques from engineering design, art, social science, complex systems modeling, satellite engineering and data science. She concluded remarking that Earth’s complex systems can experience great advancements by using designs and concepts matured in the space sector.

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After the questions and answers interval, Annamaria Nassisi moderated a round table with important personalities from the space economic sector. To this intent, representatives from both Italian and Kenyan space agencies, institutions and academic realities were invited to share their thoughts, activities and gleaning information from different backgrounds.

Maria Cristina Falvella, Head of the Strategies and Industrial Policy Unit of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), presented Italy as a pioneer and one of the most committed European countries in space. She explained how Italian Space Industry covers the whole value chain, from satellite manufacturing and ground infrastructures to operations and added benefits and applications. She highlighted that the quick evolution of initiatives implies space is not anymore only for scientists and specialists, but it can serve all sectors with efficient, reliable and cost effective services. Integration and interconnectivity, cost reduction pressure and user-driven approaches are all factors influencing and accelerating the space economic evolution.

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Prof. John Njoroge Kimani, president of the Kenyan Space Agency established in 2017, presented the activities performed in the frame of the new organization and their re-entry for future advancements in space and economic areas. He stressed the necessity to direct operations towards the improving and growth of local resources. He proudly stated Kenya is a space emerging country. As for that, exploiting space services is a valuable asset in a continuously developing country. He mentioned the importance of the collaboration between Kenyan Space Agency, ASI and Sapienza University of Rome to keep on progressing in the space sector.

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Prof. Fabio Santoni, from Civil and Industrial Engineering Faculty of Sapienza University of Rome, drew the attention to the educational cooperation between Italy and Kenya presenting the International Master in Space Mission Design and Management. During his speech, he projected a video showing the in-orbit release of the first Kenyan nano-satellite from the Kibo module in the International Space Station (ISS).  Some wonderful pictures of the Earth taken by 1KUNS CubeSat were presented as results of the project running between University of Nairobi and Sapienza University of Rome.

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The User Community and the Institutions have a key role in the context of space technology exploitation and support to the economic growth. In particular, Italy is actively involved in the COPERNICUS program, developing present and future Sentinel satellites, as well as in the COSMO SkyMed dual use system as third parties.

Prof. Bernardo De Bernardinis, National Delegated to COPERNICUS User Forum and Coordinator of National User Forum, offered an overview on the program and on the relevant value of the Forum. He pointed out Copernicus objective should be to provide accurate and reliable information in the field of environment and security, tailored to the needs of users and supporting transports, internal market, energy and civil policies. Furthermore, since Copernicus is user-driven, it constantly requires consultations with end-users from both public and private sectors. To this purpose, the User Forum can efficiently assist with the identification of requirements and verification of service compliance. He explained as the academic sector remains the largest in terms of users topology, while aiming to develop environmental services with high commercial potential by local entrepreneurs.

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Prof. Ezio Bussoletti, Space Advisor at the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, introduced the importance of GALILEO programme and how Italy is effectively taking part in the project. He presented the results Italy is achieving at national level and stressed the need to increase the marketability of space data to boost diverse areas, especially private partnerships promoting business solutions and innovative products and applications.

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To conclude, the moderator Annamaria Nassisi took the floor and acknowledged the presenters and the audience for attending the event, wishing for this conference to be the starting point of future fruitful collaborations and activities.

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Vision: A European aerospace sector with a balanced representation of women on all levels.