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Last month, I attended the 20th anniversary of the Baveno meeting which established the GMES programme which has now become Copernicus. The Baveno Manifesto was a landmark document put together by representatives of Europe’s space agencies under the guidance of the European Commission.

EARSC was there represented by our then chairman Claes Goren Borg. It was great meeting up with so many friends (I shall not say old friends!) who were also there in 1998 and especially comparing notes on our respective perspectives of what happened 20 years ago. For more details on this moment of history see my latest blogpost.

The Baveno celebrations preceded our annual meeting which, as always, is held in Brussels in June. We are very pleased to welcome 4 new directors who were elected to the board of EARSC; Agnieszka Lukaszyzck (Planet), Pierre-Alain Bosc (Airbus), Marc Tondriaux (Terrannis) and Maciej Kryzanowski (Cloudferro). Florin Serban (Terrasigna) and Didier Azoulay (Geo4i) were the 2 unlucky candidates who lost-out but we really appreciate their interest to stand and hope that they may consider to stand again for future election (which takes place every 12 months).

The evening before the AGM is always (for the last 4 years!) the occasion for members, policy makers and other stakeholders to mingle and meet at the EARSC cocktail. It is also where the winners of the EARSC awards are announced. This year the winner of the company of the year was Sinergise and the winner of the product of the year was Dust Frequency Maps produced by Silex Clouds. We should also like to acknowledge and thank our sponsors for this event; Planet (gold sponsor), Planetek, Spacetec Partners and Terrasigna (all silver sponsors).

The AGM was preceded by a workshop where we explored the DIAS which were launched the previous week in Baveno. 4 of the 5 team leaders – Airbus (Sobloo), ATOS (Mundo), Creotech (CreoDIAS) and Serco (Onda) – presented their DIAS capabilities and invited companies to test and use their services. We also provided an update on eoMALL which is making good progress even if a little slower than I should like. Three software development companies were given 3 months to present us their ideas through eoMALL prototypes. This has led us to select one winner which as I write is being contracted to develop the full version. We plan to go live at the end of August.

After the AGM, we held a strategic workshop where we asked the industry to discuss their views on where the sector is heading and how they would like to see the Copernicus programme evolve to help them meet this future. We introduced a format where for 6 sessions, a keynote speaker presented some ideas which was followed by a moderated debate around a framing question. The audience were asked to respond to questions in real time through an app; these responses were shown live on the screen as they voted.

The format worked very well and we shall use it again in the future. The outcome was excellent and a report on the “proceedings” will be published over the summer. It will also lead us to develop a position paper in response to the EC’s newly published proposal for an EU Space Programme. I congratulate the EC on a very well formulated document which covers Galileo, Copernicus and GovSatCom as well as reflecting aspirations in space surveillance and space exploration. We mostly agree with the ideas expressed so our position paper could be quite short! However, we shall also use it to present extended views on the evolution of the Copernicus Programme which will lengthen it.

Finally, I would just like to report that in May, we were very pleased to finalise and sign an agreement with EuroChile. This is the 4th formal agreement which we have signed to strengthen our internationalisation efforts. This has become a very important part of the work we are doing and which we hope to expand further once we are back to full complement. Which leads me to a final, final word as the 21st June was the day when a key person working for EARSC (they are all key!) gave birth to her first daughter. So, in 2038 she will be 20 years old and I am sure that if Natassa has anything to do with it, Artemis will be a true space girl maybe celebrating at the 40th anniversary of the Baveno Manifesto. Who knows?