NewSpace Strategy of Catalonia, a new step towards the democratization of space
2020-11-10 12:50:00
The Catalan Government has promoted the development and implementation of this initiative, which seeks that new private agents find commercial opportunities in the exploration and use of space.

The strategy was approved on 27 October 2020 and was presented at a public event in virtual format and broadcast live the following day.

The Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC) has contributed significantly to the definition of the strategic plan.

For a long time, the research in the space sector has generated revolutionary technologies that have expanded the knowledge of humanity. Until recent years, the exploration and use of space have been synonymous with state public investments and government policies, whose high cost and the risk associated with this sector made access difficult for private entities.

Thanks to a great technological development and a strong reduction in costs, the barriers to enter in the space have been blurring and generating a global movement within the sector. This is what is known as NewSpace, a term that has clearly meant a change of paradigm since 2000, the year it began to be used. The NewSpace thus represents a current trend in which new private agents have emerged seeking new commercial opportunities in space exploration.

NewSpace provides opportunities for the use and exploitation of space platforms for a wide variety of applications, including scientific research, development and qualification of space technology, Earth observation and telecommunications, such as the 5G network and the Internet of things (IoT). Although the first revolution has taken place in the field of Earth observation, it is in the field of telecommunications where a more disruptive change is glimpsed, associated with a stronger potential to establish a new market. Specifically, space missions are oriented to specific services that can be offered directly from satellites or through the data they collect.

In this new framework, the Catalan Government (Generalitat de Catalunya) has promoted the development and implementation of the NewSpace Strategy of Catalonia. The initiative was presented on 28 October 2020 in a public event in virtual format and broadcast live.

To develop the strategy, a working group was set up with the participation of experts in the NewSpace and telecommunications sectors, representing various Catalan institutions, as well as members of the Government. The Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC  — Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya) has contributed significantly to the definition of the strategic plan, with the participation of its director, Ignasi Ribas, together with several researchers from the different scientific units that constitutes IEEC. The agreements and contributions of the working group have been the basis on which the NewSpace Strategy has been drawn up, which foresees everything that Catalonia offers and has available to become a case of success on a global scale in the development of services and NewSpace solutions, as well as the policies that the Generalitat de Catalunya will implement in order to achieve this.

What is NewSpace?

NewSpace represents a new economy that starts from the democratization of space and the aerospace industry. This democratization has been possible thanks to the reduction of the time and cost of satellite development, which is achieved by using much smaller satellites and assuming higher levels of risk. Specifically, nanosatellites, and in particular the Cubesats, have become the ideal platforms to balance the performance and capabilities of satellites with the cost of production, launch and maintenance. The NewSpace sector is a growing sector that is expected to enter its maturity phase in the coming years. It is estimated that in the period 2020-2025 there will be around 3,500 new launches of Cubesats, 450 of which will be launched during 2020. These figures show a growth of more than 600% compared to the launches that have been carried out in the last four years.

Therefore, it is the ideal time to make a firm commitment to the NewSpace sector and develop a new market and a new technological fabric that have a driving effect and bring together other technologies, such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence, advanced electronics for sensors and computers, secure communication and next generation mobile communications (5G, IoT, ...).

Capabilities available in Catalonia

Catalonia has a set of capabilities that make it ideal for developing the new NewSpace ecosystem. In particular, it has a deep-rooted entrepreneurial, technical, scientific and business culture. Catalonia is, as an emerging and research and development (R&D) ecosystem, a region that can become one of the potential players in the NewSpace revolution on a global scale. Currently, the Catalan presence in NewSpace is revealed in R&D and in a group of emerging companies that are making their way into the space market.

The NewSpace Strategy of Catalonia is an initiative coordinated by the Department of Digital Policies and Public Administration of the Generalitat de Catalunya with the collaboration of the Department of Territory and Sustainability and the Department of Business and Knowledge, and the participation of the rest of the departments of the Catalan Government.
You will find more information on the official website of the Catalan Government’s Digital Policies and Public Administration Department. 


- NewSpace Strategy of Catalonia

More information

The Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC  — Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya) promotes and coordinates space research and technology development in Catalonia for the benefit of society. IEEC fosters collaborations both locally and worldwide and is an efficient agent of knowledge, innovation and technology transfer. As a result of over 20 years of high-quality research, done in collaboration with major international organisations, IEEC ranks among the best international research centers, focusing on areas such as: astrophysics, cosmology, planetary science, and Earth Observation. IEEC’s engineering division develops instrumentation for ground- and space-based projects, and has extensive experience in working with private or public organisations from the aerospace and other innovation sectors.  

IEEC is a private non-profit foundation, governed by a Board of Trustees composed of Generalitat de Catalunya and four other institutions that each have a research unit, which together constitute the core of IEEC R&D activity: the University of Barcelona (UB) with the research unit ICCUB — Institute of Cosmos Sciences; the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) with the research unit CERES — Center of Space Studies and Research; the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) with the research unit CTE — Research Group in Space Sciences and Technologies; the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) with the research unit ICE — Institute of Space Sciences. IEEC is integrated in the CERCA network (Centres de Recerca de Catalunya).


Caption: The NewSpace Strategy of Catalonia responds to growing global competition, increasing private sector involvement and major technological shifts. 
Credits: European Commission


IEEC Communication Office
Barcelona, Spain

Rosa Rodríguez and Ana Montaner
Attached Documents
Generalitat de CatalunyaUniversitat de BarcelonaUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaUniversitat Politècnica de CatalunyaConsejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasCentres de Recerca de Catalunya