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Editorial, Issue 6

A very hectic business year is getting to a close with well deserved vacation time in front of us. One of the last events was the Annual General Meeting of the Association. Among the highlights were a good attendance, actually the best ever, and a very interesting and exciting keynote talk on Microsoft Virtual Earth by VEXCEL, a new subsidiary of Microsoft.
The world of value-adding in Earth Observation is really changing very quickly now and the opportunities for new entrants are considerable. Even more so since important initiatives to help entrepreneurs and start-ups with incubator financing have been launched by the EC and ESA. The INNOVA, INVESAT and FINANCESAT frameworks for example, in addition to existing financial tools put in place by the EC in the previous years, are making easier for new ventures to take off. The domain of space based applications, whether using telecommunications, navigation, Earth Observation techniques or, more and more, some combination of them, is definitely on the rise with plenty of opportunities for new services.
Actually such a boiling synergy will induce an evolution and restructuring of our industry and of its representation. Such topics have been discussed at the EARSC workshop in Paris in March 2006, and will be elaborated further in the next workshop, the Stakeholders Consultation workshop which will cover both VA Industry representation and the Roadmap for Growth. This might well generate a strong new impetus not only for our association but also for the European VA sector in general so that your presence is essential.
In addition to those encouraging steps, all of us must keep in mind the need to strongly support the development of public investment in GMES and we add thus a wish for a positive issue of the budget discussions for the GMES-services inside FP7.
Last but not least, on behalf of the Board of Directors I would like to thank the members for their trust and for renewing our mandate at this last AGM. In the same time I would like to stress that opportunities to join our working groups and our Board always exist and that our Board is looking eagerly at any new marks of enthusiasm or initiatives from our members in these directions.
Waiting for some more expression of these interests I would like personally, as well as on behalf of the Board of Directors, to wish you a relaxing and fruitful vacation.
Looking forward to start the new business year with you at the Consultation workshop on September 14th, 2006 in FRASCATI,
EARSC Chairman
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