Friday, October 20, 2017

General Assembly of the Hellenic Association of Space Industry

Today I found myself at Corallia, representing NEUROPUBLIC at the General Assembly of the Hellenic Association of Space Industry (HASI), an association  that represents the biggest part of Greece’s research and manufacturing in the space technology and applications sector, with currently 41 members (NEUROPUBLIC being one of them). It may sound strange, but it is true and proven: There is an active Greek space technology ecosystem and having all these companies sitting at the same table and working together towards a common goal, which is the sustainability of the whole ecosystem, as opposed to the sustainability of each company individually.

HASI low

It was a meeting of people who have the same ambitions, similar expectations and share the same concerns. Their companies have proven expertise, successful collaborations with companies abroad, contracts with major customers and a list of EU-funded projects. They are skilled, innovative and competitive but still they face issues related to the sustainability of their business, mostly due to the unstable legal and financial environment of Greece, the recent changes in the representation of Greece in EU organizations like the European Space Agency (whose projects are a major funding source for many of HASI's members) and the increased competitiveness between the industry and the academic institutes; it is obvious that research is not applied in Greece, and this applies to space research as well. This creates a gap between the research conducted and the lack of corresponding commercial products, which becomes a major issue e.g. in the case of co-funded projects.

I found it amazing to participate in discussions about microsatellites, from design to implementation and even launch to space, all by Greek companies; at the same time, I was disappointed to see that all this potential was hindered and handicapped by unfair policies, wrong high-level decisions, and lack of support from the state (at least so far; this seems to be changing for the better, though, through the announcement of the Greek Space Agency and a related Directorate that aims to act as the central hub for all space-related activities in Greece). Indeed, the two representatives of the Directorate seemed to be more than willing to help companies overcome all existing barriers (to the extend possible) and improve their status in the context of EU projects.

I believe that by the end of the meeting, we all saw the light at the end of the tunnel :-)