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April 28, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 10:45am

ViaSat, ESA partner on European space launch of broadband initiative

News: UK enters first batch of funding with space market expected to grow to more than €500bn by 2030.

By Joao Lima

The European Space Agency (ESA) and US broadband provider ViaSat have entered a three-year collaboration project to affirm Europe as a stronger player in the space industry.

The two organisations signed a multi-million euro project called the High Capacity Satellite Applications Factory Initiative (HCS Initiative) to speed up broadband services in the satellite sector.

The HCS Initiative involves the collaboration of ESA, EU member states, industry, universities and ViaSat. The goal is to develop new high capacity satellite (HCS) products, applications and services.

In addition, the initiative wants to simplify and shorten the funding application process to reduce time-to-market for new products, applications and services.

Projects selected under the HCS Initiative will receive up to 50% funding, with assistance from ViaSat that could include technical support on proposal preparation and project execution, program management, test bandwidth and hardware support.

The project is being launched with the ESA, ViaSat and the UK, Switzerland and Belgium, who will fund the project with €30m all together.

The ESA and ViaSat said the HCS Initiative is expected to create jobs in the European space industry, as well as foster market growth.

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The companies said this will be achievable by lowering barriers of entry for start-ups, Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and new market entrants, and give large corporations the ability to prosper in the established space industry.

ViaSat is also going to introduce and manage the Space Hub online portal, which will provide a collaborative space for ESA, member states and participating organisations to share knowledge and experience in the space field.

The portal will also be used to identify potential partners and opportunities, and help foster production of more HCS technologies, applications and services.

Magali Vaissiere, ESA director of telecommunications and integrated applications, said: "Through ARTES Competitiveness and Growth (C&G) [a dedicated program to the development, qualification, and demonstration of products in the telco space], ESA provides broad support for the development and validation of technologies, products, applications and services to maintain and further improve the competitive position of industry of ESA Member States in the global market of satellite telecommunications.

"The ViaSat Applications Factory initiative is a clear example of how the ARTES Competitiveness & Growth programme can provide effective support to successfully develop products and applications."

Keven Lippert, EVP for space systems and corporate development at ViaSat, said that to leverage the potential from High Capacity Satellite systems, we need constant innovation, fresh thinking and investment from across industry, academia and government.

He said: "By partnering with ESA and others on the High Capacity Satellite Applications Factory Initiative, we are making a commitment to energise development and reduce time-to-market for new High Capacity Satellite technologies, applications and services across Europe."

According to Catherine Mealing-Jones, director of growth at the UK Space Agency, the HCS Initiative represents a fresh approach designed to open up the innovation arena to new players enabling them to build real world solutions and bring them to the market quickly and effectively.

She said: "This innovative ‘match making’ will bring the kind of dynamism and creativity to the development of technology, applications and services that should be tailor-made for those with an entrepreneurial approach.

"The initiative therefore has the real potential to drive economic growth and stimulate job creation and we look forward to seeing that positive impact in the UK economy."

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