13 February 2024
President Leone at the round table “Challenges of the space supply chain in Italy”
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The Space Economy Observatory conference took place in Milan, a day to present a snapshot of the Italian context: from upstream to end users, with a look at the international scenario and the aim of reflecting on strategies to guarantee sustainable growth and long term of the entire national system.

During the debate, a special focus was dedicated to the results of the survey of the national space supply chain, developed by the Observatory in collaboration with the CTNA. The investigation involved the administration and analysis of a survey to a significant sample of 125 Italian companies, from which it emerges that only 10% of the respondents operate exclusively in the space sector, while 90% also operate in other sectors, mostly, aviation (46%), metalworking industry (44%), ICT and electronics (41%), and automotive (34%).

In the analysis, three archetypes of companies in the Italian space supply chain were identified:

· “Space Manufacturers”, i.e. producers of large space systems such as satellites, ground infrastructures and infrastructures for space exploration;

· “Servitized OEMs”, i.e. component manufacturers who combine services with their products, such as training for the use of Earth observation software;

· “Service companies”, i.e. consultants, service providers and developers who help companies in the Italian space supply chain to develop their products.

Through the survey, the Observatory also identified five major trends that the sample highlights as main changes in the space industry and the business model of the companies operating in it:

commercialization of space, i.e. the involvement of the private sector and commercial companies in the exploitation of space activities (61%)

new technologies from other sectors (55%)

· new players from non-space sectors who are entering this market (49%)

· new operational and organizational models enabled by synergies between “sectoral” technologies and digital technologies (30%)

· new space regulations and policies towards market liberalization and use of data (23%)

The CTNA, in addition to contributing to the investigation, animated, through the intervention of President Cristina Leone, the round table “Challenges of the space supply chain in Italy” moderated by Camilla Colombo and Michèle Lavagna of the Milan Polytechnic Observatory.

The round table was attended by: Sara Garino, Head of the Legislative Office of the Presidency of the 10th Productive Activities, Trade and Tourism Commission – Chamber of Deputies; Paolo Colombo, Director of Strategy, Aerospace & Defense, Altair; Cristina Leone, President, CTNA; Pietro Quercia Policy Consultant, Adl Consulting; Andrea Taramelli, Coordinator, Copernicus UFN.

Cristina Leone underlined the role of Italy and its demonstrated abilities in the construction and putting into orbit of satellites, citing as a final example the Iris constellation, financed by the PNRR and recalled the fundamental contribution given by Italian companies for the construction of the new stations commercial spacecraft and the International Space Station.

The potential connected to the consolidated skills and multiple applications have brought out another theme of fundamental importance: how to use the data and information that come from assets in orbit to develop new services, but also the need to raise awareness in the institutional and corporate economic system to the use of space services designed to achieve greater effectiveness compared to traditional methods. Just to give some examples of optimization: the planning of agricultural activities and the monitoring and protection of the territory.

Emphasis was also placed on space situational awareness services to protect commercial constellations which, despite market growth of +5% per year, are still poorly developed.

Continuing with the analysis of the needs of businesses and the role of the CTNA to support growth, President Leone underlined the need to know the supply chains in the territories and bring out the wealth of technologies and ideas developed by start-ups or small and very small companies in the industrial fabric, in order to enhance the country system and its excellence. In fact, one of the objectives of the CTNA is precisely to map the technologies and systems produced throughout the territory, trying to understand where R&D investments are being concentrated.

Starting from the identification of simple but exhaustive taxonomies on space and aeronautics, in the next few days the CTNA will launch a survey aimed at identifying technological gaps, understanding what training is provided at university level and not only to obtain useful information to support the development and competitiveness of Italian companies.

In this climate of growth it is important to work not only on technology-push innovations, but also on market-pull developments, in line with the demands of the end markets, also through proof of concept.

In conclusion and in common opinion, deepening the knowledge of the Italian reality and enhancing the excellence active in the territories appear to be two essential criteria for the advancement of the ecosystem, to support the development of skills, and strengthen and align the training offer.