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Space Science for Societal Challenges Workshop


On 22-23 October, the European Union-funded projects spaceEU and Our Space Our Future are hosting the Lorentz Center's Space Science for Societal Challenges Workshop to explore how different players in the European space sector can collaborate more effectively to address societal challenges. The online workshop will involve major European stakeholders in the space sector. Registration is free, but only registered participants will be able to participate in the Workshop.

The Space sector plays a central role in the current social, economic and environmental challenges. The knowledge, tools, specialized skill set and international collaborations inherent to the space community can be harnessed to address developmental issues globally. Space sciences are a unique tool to address societal challenges because of the links to research, education, cutting-edge technology and cultural heritage in societies across the world. The challenge is bridging the divide that exists between research, industry, academia and culture, to provide a structure that is effective in bringing the space ecosystem together to share knowledge and practice, collaborate for common endeavours and support the skills for the next generation of space professionals.


At the workshop, we will discuss the potential for a new “Space-KIC” (Knowledge and Innovation Community) as an example of a structure that supports the sharing of knowledge, expertise and opportunities. KICs are pan-European partnerships created under the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) that bring together industry, policy, research and education to harness research and entrepreneurship to address societal challenges, create quality jobs and grow the sector.


This workshop will engage participants to share strategies that can be scaled up to this pan-European scale, in order to achieve similar objectives for the space community. The benefits, feasibility and value of a new Space-KIC, will be one of the outputs of this session, alongside discussion of alternate structures and studies to achieve the objectives of greater cohesion, communication, knowledge and innovation. Of particular note is highlighting industries both in the upstream space sector and downstream application and the support and organisation at regional and local levels.


The 2-day online workshop will comprise seven sessions with short talks and panel discussions. Find an outline of the sessions below:

Thursday 22 October 2020 - Master of Ceremony: Pedro Russo


09:30    10:30 CEST      Session 1: Space for societal challenges: the role of Space to advance the SDGs


  • Suzan Commandeur (Lorentz Center)

  • Vanessa McBride & Tawanda Chingozha (IAU Office of Astronomy for Development)

  • David Patterson (World Wide Fund for Nature)


10:45    12:15 CEST       Session 2: The European space sector and policy landscape -

Moderator: Dimitrios Papadakis 


  • Maria Vittoria D'Inzeo (Policy officer, EC RG for Defence Industry and Space – DG DEFIS)

  • Chiara Manfletti (ESA Policy and Programme Coordination)

  • Mary Ritter (EIT Climate-KIC)


13:15    14:45 CEST       Session 3: The Future of the space industry ecosystem

Moderator: Emmanuel Mondon


  • Martijn Leinweber (Space Business Innovation Centre Noordwijk)

  • Jeremy Hallakoun (AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe) 

  • Mónica Miguel-Lago (European Association of Remote Sensing Companies)

  • Markus Häuser (euconvest)

15:30   17:00 CEST       Session 4: Collaboration between space and astronomy research and the space sector

Moderator: Norbert Frischauf


  • Ewine van Dishoeck (International Astronomical Union President)

  • Sara Lucatello (Council member European Astronomical Society)

  • Chris Welsh (International Space University)

  • Cynthia Bouthot (Space Commerce Matters)

Friday 23 October 2020 - Master of Ceremony: Dimitrios Papadakis

09:30  11:00 CEST        Session 5: Space education, training and skills

Moderator: Shaaron Leverment


  • Katharine Bowden (UK Space Agency)

  • Danny Vandenbroucke (Spatial Applications Division KU Leuven, Belgium)

  • Lucille Baudet (Space Generation Advisory Council)

  • Monica Talevi (Head of STEM Education & Outreach Unit at ESA Education Office) 


11:15   12:45 CEST        Session 6: Public engagement with the European space sector

Moderator: Michelle Willebrands


  • Tania Johnston (Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre / European Southern Observatory, Germany)

  • Remco Timmermans (Social Media for Space)

  • Fiorella Coliolo (Scientific communication expert, co-author of "Space for our planet" project)


13:45  15:15 CEST       Session 7: Closing session: Organisational structure of the European space sector

  • Argyro Kavvada (Lead for SGDs at NASA Headquarters)

  • Wendy Sadler (Our Space, Our Future / Cardiff University)

  • Pedro Russo (spaceEU / Leiden University)


To register for the workshop please send an email to Workshop Coordinator Claire Bleize via the email address

For inquiries contact:

Michelle Willebrands
Leiden Observatory / Leiden University

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