The head of the French national space agency, the Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES), Jean-Yves Le Gall, took part in the Global Space and Technology Convention (GSTC) in Singapore on 15 February 2019, a yearly event bringing together the world’s premier players in space.
On this occasion, he underlined the importance of innovation in space programmes. The event also offered the opportunity to hold a number of meetings, notably with Subra Suresh, President of Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and representatives from the Economic Development Board (EDB) and Singapore Space Technology Association (SSTA), to discuss cooperation between France and Singapore.
Innovation is today a key word in every domain. Innovating means being inventive and aware of the needs of others; put simply, a disruptive innovation is an idea that meets its customers. From the outset, the conquest of space has been a long story of innovation, even if today’s needs are a long way from those of 50 years ago. Efforts to tackle climate change, increasing exchanges in the wake of globalization, and the quest for knowledge through large-scale science programmes are the challenges of this century. The space sector is also undergoing a deep transformation due to a combination of factors: the growing number of public and private players, new opportunities brought by the digital revolution and advances in engineering like 3D printing, electric propulsion and satellite miniaturization.
To boost the space sector and its economic development, and to meet society’s needs while spurring the public’s interest in space, CNES is positioning itself as an innovation hub and maintaining a regular dialogue with the different communities of space users. This dialogue is mainly organized through a range of initiatives encompassed by the Connect By CNES initiative, which is seeking to set up partnerships with competitiveness clusters focused on technologies both inside and outside the space sector, providing expertise for incubators like Station F, spinning off technology to industry, developing the CosmiCapital French investment fund dedicated to space and organizing an international innovation competition. These are the actions CNES is promoting to stay tuned to users of space technologies and remain a pivotal player in space in the years ahead.
During his meetings with Singapore’s space community, Jean-Yves Le Gall notably followed up on the ‘Innovate Together in Space’ seminar organized by CNES and EDB in 2018. Discussions focused on prospects for working together on minisatellite programmes.
The CNES President’s visit was preceded on 13 February 2019 by a ‘space tech for mobility’ seminar co-organized by CNES and SG Innovate, attended by some 100 people including French and Singaporean domain experts, who were able to articulate their shared vision of the importance of developing this type of space applications.