In the last few years, Space has established itself as an essential resource to monitor the Earth, for telecommunications, for Earth observation and geolocation services. Satellite services, and the data extracted from them (observation or positioning) become assets which, together with the potential of digital economy, can anticipate our society’s needs: space technologies and innovations are increasingly influencing our life, in a positive way.
With the advent of the New Space Economy, the space sector, which for a long time was predominantly supported by the institutions, is witnessing an ambitious intervention by private investors. It’s a real cultural revolution, which is redefining the public/private ratio.
Today, the Space Economy is recognised by the OECD (“The Space Economy at a Glance”) as one of the most effective motors for economic growth, far beyond the borders of the space sector in the strict sense. Innovation is the key to maintain and strengthen national competitiveness and is pursued through development initiatives for enabling and radically innovative technologies, by promoting opportunities coming from other industries or by facing challenges and opportunities offered by future missions at national and international level.
By enhancing innovation and research results, the knowledge and technologies developed in the context of space projects become available to commercial, industrial, social or research sectors other than those from which they originated. In the last few years, we are increasingly observing a cross-fertilization of terrestrial technologies with space technologies, which is made possible by the rate of evolution of such technologies. Due to it, the concept of transfer from Space to Earth (Spin-Out) and, vice versa, from Earth to Space (Spin-In) becomes an actual synergic development, where both the Space-Related products (products/services enhanced by Space) and the Space-Enabled products (products/services enabled by Space) are characterized by highly innovative elements.
The lines of action by the ASI (Italian Space Agency) include activities to support technology transfer, through initiatives such as:
- transfer of technical-scientific knowledge to/in favour of small and medium-sized enterprises, large enterprises, universities and research centres;
- initiatives to support start-ups;
- support to competition/challenges and initiatives to look for new ideas;
- promotion of public and private additional investments (such as venture capital, risk finance, etc.), which can have a leverage effect;
- transfer mechanisms of technologies and methods from other productive sectors;
- management and safeguard of the patent portfolio;
- development of knowledge intelligence tools;
- agreements with universities and research centres.
On March 28th, 2017, the Italian Space Agency and the Hypatia Research Consortium created an ambitious project, aimed at proposing a new way to interpret applied research and technology transfer, and built the E.Amaldi Foundation, whose purpose is promoting and supporting scientific research for technology transfer, starting from the space sector as a key tool for the economic development of the country and as a source of innovation to improve competitiveness, productivity and employment.
INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER
The ITT activities can be summarised in three main macro-areas: