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EIB and ESA launch “Space for Mediterranean Countries” Initiative

ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and EIB Vice President Philippe de Fontaine Vive Curtaz, yesterday, signed an agreement called ‘Space for Mediterranean Initiative” (abbr. “Space for Med”). The two organisations will work together so that satellite-based services can bridge the digital divide and bring economic growth to the Mediterranean region.

The EIB assists the economic and social development of partner countries in the South and East Mediterranean. EIB has invested EUR 13bn through its operations in this region since 2002, supported 2,300 SMEs, which created 30,000 jobs, mobilised roughly EUR 35bn of additional capital together with international financing institutions, bilateral agencies and the private sector in order to advance the integration of the region; and granted more than EUR 102m for technical assistance operations to build knowledge and capacity. This initiative received the support of the FEMIP Trust Fund, established in 2004, whose main objective is to support private sector development in the Mediterranean partner countries.

On ESA’s side, the Integrated Applications Promotion (IAP) Programme has created a network of Ambassador Platforms (APs) who promote space applications to a broad range of new domains. They bring space solutions to user communities who are not aware of the benefits that space technologies can bring to them. Together, they develop new operational and economically sustainable  services. Ambassador Platforms exist for areas like eHealth (with Norway), enhanced mobility (United Kingdom), renewable energy (Spain), water management (Netherlands) and many others.

To support the Space for Med initiative ESA and LuxInnovation, the Luxembourg  National Agency for Innovation and Research, have created a new Ambassador Platform, located at the European Investment Bank. Under the direction of Dr Mathias Link, it will focus on how space can improve key infrastructure areas in the Mediterranean regions, particularly for water management, energy, transportation and logistics. The objective is to develop projects in partnership, ensuring that the services proposed are sustainable in an operational scenario.

“I am convinced that an increased dialogue and coordination between ESA and EIB is of mutual interest.  It will open new dimensions and expand the use of existing space assets and technologies, for the benefit of citizens and society.” said Mr. Dordain.

“We hope that this first step will lead to more and better projects for the Mediterranean region, to show Europe’s lead in complex technologies and support SMEs in this sector; EIB and ESA will work together for the greater good, including to improve the efficiency of major infrastructure investments, reduce pollution and work toward a safer Mediterranean sea. This why I call on other countries to join this initiative” said Mr. de Fontaine Vive Curtaz.

Anne-Cécile Auguin

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