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A network of European regions using space technologies

There is a network of European regions using space technologies, called Nereus. Veneto Innovazione met Mr Alain Bénéteau president of Nereus to know the goals and activities of such a group.

What is the scope of the Network of European Regions Using Space Technologies (NEREUS) and who are its members?
NEREUS is an initiative of currently 24 regions and 40 associate members with the common objective to spread the use and understanding of space technologies across Europe for the benefit of regions and their citizens. As voice of the European Regions, NEREUS serves as an advocate for regions in matters of space uses and also as a direct channel to the regional users of space technologies (such as local authorities, SMEs, universities and research institutes and citizens). The network is the key interface between the regional level and national and European institutions. Apart from that, NEREUS is a dynamic platform for its members to facilitate the involvement in EU/ESA-funded activities and mobilize projects and initiatives, often aimed at developing jointly space applications or promoting space uses.

Can you further explain the concept of “dynamic platform” and provide examples of EU/ESA-funded projects mobilized in the past years?
NEREUS is an arena for regions as well as its associate members comprising universities, research centres and companies to share information and experiences but also to develop new project ideas. The cooperation on the platform is often the base to mobilize consortia for EU/ESA-funded projects. DORIS_Net was the first EU-funded project mobilized in the NEREUS platform. The 2-year project ended in January 2013. Bringing together 13 NEREUS partners it was nominated as flagship project of the network. As main outcome the project established a network of Regional Contact Offices (RCOs), which serve as a meeting/information point among local authorities, providers and potential users of (GMES) Copernicus services and other stakeholders. Its mission is to increase the use of space technologies and to help creating business opportunities. In order to demonstrate the broad array of existing (GMES) Copernicus services at regional level in Europe and to boost a wider use of (GMES) Copernicus applications, NEREUS and ESA collaborated in 2012 in the production of a joint collection of 67 examples of Copernicus uses in Europe’s regions.
Apart from that the Brussels-based Secretariat promotes initiatives and projects of its members and disseminates the projects results. The SABER project, a thematic network on broadband deployment is just one of the examples.   

What are NEREUS strategies to make European citizens aware of the wide range of space applications already available?
Since 2008, year of its constitution, NEREUS strives to promote the great number of space applications and services already available for Europe’s citizens. Through the collaborative efforts of the members of its Working Groups, several publications were produced in the past years showing concrete examples of (GMES) Copernicus and GNSS uses at regional level. One group, focused on Technologies from Space Exploration compiled a collection of spin-offs/ins of how outcomes of space exploration could be exploited to generate innovations at regional level. Apart from that, NEREUS designed and launched its space exhibition, an illustrative and vivid poster presentation of 24 member regions enriched with a video, available in all the 8 native languages of the network, showcasing regional examples of space applications in different domains (security, civil emergency, agriculture, maritime etc.). Conceptualized as a mobile exposition, it is showcased on the occasion of many events and conferences organized in the member regions around Europe. In 2013 NEREUS launched a call for expanding the Space exhibition inviting all members to contribute with interactive installations, mock-ups and facts and figures.
                                                                                                                            
How do you liaise with the European Institutions and in particular with the European Commission?
As a network of regions NEREUS introduces the regional dimension in the European space policy making, it offers a unique platform for regions to share ideas and develop joint strategies but also to speak as a sole body with the European Institutions. As an advocate for regional concerns NEREUS contributes to the development of new policies and programmes.
With regard to the long and complex debate on the financing of the (GMES) Copernicus programme post 2014, NEREUS played an important role to highlight the regional perspective. With a position paper published in October 2011, NEREUS expressed the regional concerns on the European Commission’s proposal of having the programme financed outside the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). One important element to advocate Copernicus as an EU-funded program was to outline its strategic role for territorial management and public policies. In its position paper NEREUS quoted a number of examples in which regions needed Copernicus data to comply with their responsibilities and obligations from EU-environmental legislation (e.g. INSPIRE, Air quality etc.).

How does NEREUS help European SMEs to develop their activities by using space technologies?  
By presenting the wide array of regional space services and applications already available in Europe, NEREUS strives to raise awareness of the economical and societal benefits of using space technologies for different activities and in various domains. Space uses are cross-cutting and bring added value to many different sectors opening new business opportunities.
In December 2012 NEREUS launched the new NEREUS Cluster Working Group. Amongst others, the goal of the group is to establish cooperation and synergies among SMEs in Europe; to encourage and assist them to access European funds and to facilitate the creation of new market opportunities for the development of space applications.

Could you explain NEREUS activities towards students and young professionals? Would you in particular describe the cooperation with the students association Euroavia?  
A significant part of the network’s efforts and activities impact students, graduates and young professionals, with universities, research institutions and associations involved in our work. NEREUS offers a platform to mobilize strong activities and partnerships in the area of education and training. Through the Communication, Education and Training (CET) Working Group, NEREUS is actively developing different initiatives. One of the results of such activities is the creation of an e-catalogue which provides an inventory of training courses performed in the space domain in the NEREUS regions.
In 2010 NEREUS established a cooperation agreement with Euroavia, the European Association for Aeronautics Students. The cooperation brings the network of students into contact with NEREUS members, providing useful contacts and opportunities to exchange for students in the field and a connection with the regional aspect of European space policy. The first main outcome of this cooperation was the organization of an academic competition for MA and PhD students on EO/GMES (now called Copernicus). An open call was launched among Europe asking students to submit their theses and essays on EO/GMES themes. Mr. Donato Impedovo, University of Bari (Apulia region) was awarded to participate in a renowned international conference for the quality and originality of his thesis: "Classificazione di immagini telerilevate multitemporali acquisite da sensori SAR ed ottici”.
For more information on the NEREUS network, its activities and communication material please visit: www.NEREUS-regions.eu or to contact the secretariat: www.nereus-regions.eu/contact-us.
 

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