“Those working in the space sector know that innovation is not a choice but the only possible option. That is true for both start-ups and large companies”. With these words, Luigi Pasquali, Coordinator of Space Activities at Leonardo and CEO of Telespazio, opened his speech from the stage of the Italian Pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020, during the event to present #T-TeC, the Open Innovation Contest by Leonardo and Telespazio.
The Contest, now in its third year, is open to students and researchers from around the world, with whom the two companies set out to imagine the technologies of the future.
Also because, as Pasquali said, “Space is a very difficult sector, in which no matter how large a company is, it can never be self-sufficient.” Precisely for this reason, “research into space inevitably requires a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach; in short, Open Innovation.”
The event, mediated by the journalist and writer Emilio Cozzi, included an opening speech by Sultan Al Zeidi of the United Arab Emirates Space Agency and the participation, in a short round table dedicated to the link between the future challenges of the space sector, innovation and sustainability, of Marco Brancati, CTIO of Telespazio, Pierpaolo Gambini, Leonardo SVP and IP, Massimo Claudio Comparini, CEO of Thales Alenia Space Italia, and Michèle Lavagna, Professor of Flight Dynamics at the Department of Aerospace Sciences and Technologies at the Politecnico di Milano.
Marco Brancati, Telespazio's CTIO, particularly emphasised how the technological topics covered by the 2021 #T-TeC contest take their cue from the main areas of development in the space sector in the years to come. “Future challenges certainly concern geoinformation, especially as regards the Digital Twin approach, in-orbit services, to optimize current resources, and interplanetary communications, in particular on the Moon,” he explained.
The importance of research was also confirmed by Pierpaolo Gambini, Leonardo SVP Innovation and IP, who explained how Open Innovation is a fundamental part of the Group's growth and underscored the importance of STEM subjects among the younger generations. “It is important for our students to love scientific subjects, because they will be the mathematicians, physicists and engineers of the future.”
Also because, as Michèle Lavagna, Professor of Flight Dynamics at the Politecnico di Milano, said, the fundamental ingredients of innovation are “competence, enthusiasm, passion and the ability to think outside the box - all of which can be found in great opportunities such as the #T-TeC contest”.
Massimo Claudio Comparini, CEO of Thales Alenia Space Italia, finally stressed that innovation cannot be “segregated”, but rather should be distributed as much as possible throughout the value chain, in order to create “new services, applications and technologies”.