Space Economy Activities

About Space Economy at ESA

The European Space Agency is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capabilities and ensure that investment in space continuously supports the competitiveness of the European industry and delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. For this purpose, ESA has measured the socio-economic impact of its activities since the nineties, drawing on experience from Member States and international bodies such as the OECD. Robust and standardised methodologies offer consistent measures of the impacts of ESA programmes.

As part of ESA’s Directorate for Commercialisation, Industry and Procurement, the Space Economy team seeks to:

  • Promote the exchange of best practices on space economy and harmonisation of methodological approaches through external strategic partnerships such as with the OECD and Eurostat;
  • Measure the Space Economy and provide ESA Member States’ with latest figures and trends;
  • Evaluate the socio-economic impacts of Member States’ investment in ESA programmes on the European economy and society;
  • Run the European Centre for Space Economy and Commerce (ECSECO).

The Space Economy team is coordinating and harmonising ESA’s efforts to assess the socio-economic impact of its programmes, especially in support of programme proposals submitted for decisions at ESA Council meetings at Ministerial level.

The team also ensures the secretariat of the ESA Space Economy Expert Group. The group of national experts provides a forum for discussion and exchange of information, assisting ESA Member States’ delegations and the ESA Executive in the identification of the statistical contours of the space sector worldwide, while investigating the socio-economic impacts of Member States’ investments in ESA programmes.

The Space Economy team is also the official ESA point of contact for other national and international institutions in charge of measuring the space economy (e.g., the OECD Space Forum) as well as with industry associations, with the objective to foster the development of a European expert community in the space economy domain.

The team prepares the “Report on the Space Economy” to ESA Council annually. The objective of the report is to provide an annual update on the status and trends of the Space Economy.

It also prepares the report “Socio-economic impacts of ESA programmes”, which is presented to ESA Delegations in the years of ESA Council meetings at Ministerial level. The objective of the report is to provide Member States with evidence of the socio-economic impacts of their investment in ESA Programmes. The document presents a set of examples across the whole range of ESA activities, in terms of economic, strategic and societal benefits.

ESA aims to provide evidence and transparency to its Member States on the effectiveness of the Agency to secure return on investment. It uses both ex-post studies and ex-ante assessments, estimating the projected socio-economic impacts of programme proposals to be submitted to the Ministers for decision. ESA’s goal is to include these tools in the Executive’s decision and managerial processes.

Strengthening this capability in the future will be an enabler to pilot and steer the European space industry and scientific R&D activities to respond to critical societal needs and to maximise the positive contribution of space towards more sustainability, responsibility and autonomy in Europe.

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