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Editorial Winter 2010 / 2011

As we enter 2011, it looks to me to be an exciting year in prospect certainly for me and I hope for EARSC and its members too. I really look forward to the challenge to help this young and dynamic industry grow. As you will have read, I have a long association with Earth Observation from designing satellites to creating programmes (GMES). I also have a long association with EARSC being an early chairman when it was just getting going and a director up until last year.

I think therefore I have a good knowledge of this industry and the market and I am very excited to become the Secretary General at this important time. I have many ideas to take the industry forward – because it cannot be my objective just to develop the Association. This would be to put the cart before the horse since it is clear that EARSC exists to serve its members. If there is a strong EO industry then there can be a strong EARSC. But we need to present the arguments for the industry in the strongest possible way and this is where EARSC must act. We need to develop together and this will be my goal.

With the Board of Directors I have agreed a work plan and targets for 2011 which includes raising the awareness of the industry, developing links to other industries so opening new business opportunities, and to continue to focus the Eovox 2 study to support EO industry goals. During the year I hope to review the longer term goals and strategy for the Association and for this I should like your input.

This industry is like no other. It has a lot of very small and young companies operating in specialised fields alongside a few larger companies. Both are essential for a healthy sector. The small companies start from a clever idea, most likely in a very narrow and specialised domain. If the idea is successful, the company will grow to become a bigger operator or to be taken over by one of the bigger ones. This cycle can only refresh if the larger companies exist alongside the small ones. If there are no large companies then this would indicate that the market was no longer interesting. Meanwhile, new companies are constantly appearing.

Therefore it seems to me that the industry structure in EO shows a healthy sector, dynamic and looking to grow. EARSC can help that process. As I say, I have many ideas but I would welcome your ideas as well. I believe that we should focus as much on a commercial market as an institutional one. We cannot deny that governments are important to our industry – as they are important for the whole space industry – but recognise also that our industry is important to governments. Not only do we provide critical information to help policy development but we can also provide significant economic benefits.

One of the first things I should like is to hear what you want from me. If I haven’t called or talked with you already then I shall be doing so. But there is no need to wait! If you have specific ideas for where EARSC can add value for your company, then let me know. Please call or write as you prefer and I shall welcome the exchange. This message is not just for EARSC members. As I said a few lines up the page, the EO and geo-information industry is important for governments so I would welcome suggestions from other stakeholders if there are topics you believe that EARSC should address.

Monica and I shall seek to give a significant boost to EARSC in 2011. For the longer term we shall set out our plans and priorities for review and agreement with the Board. This has already started when the EARSC Board held a joint meeting with ESA just before Xmas where it was already clear that there are many initiatives to develop. But there are surely others that are missing and I really want to hear your ideas.

Have a healthy and successful new year,

Geoff Sawyer
EARSC Secretary General

Eomag_Editorial, Issue 24_Winter 20102011.pdf