Economic Development and Technology Minister Zdravko Počivalšek today received the Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA) Johann-Dietrich Woerner. Together they visited the Slovenian GIS company Sinergise, the overall winner of last year's edition of the ESA's Copernicus Masters competition on the use of satellite data. In a press conference following their meeting, both underlined that Slovenia's Associate Membership of the ESA benefits both parties and that there is still great potential for cooperation.
Sinergise won the competition, which takes place under the aegis of the ESA and last year received more than 200 entries from all over the world, with its Sentinel Hub solution, which reduces the time needed to display and use satellite imagery from several hours to just a few seconds.
Slovenia became an Associate Member of the ESA on 1 December last year following unanimous ratification by the ESA Council at its meeting in Lucerne. Associate Membership gives Slovenia access to all ESA programmes. Slovenia is currently participating in three optional programmes: the general technology programme, the Earth observation programme and the scientific programme Prodex. Mr Počivalšek explained that Slovenia will invest a total of €15 million in these programmes, with €9 million going to the first programme, €5 million to the second and €1 million to the scientific programme.
"There are a little over 40 companies in Slovenia interested in participating in the space programme. I am very positively surprised at the interest and capabilities shown by our companies, whose programmes, products and services are very relevant to the European Space Agency," said Mr Počivalšek.
ESA Director General Woerner explained that the ESA will also benefit from Slovenia's Associate Member status, since this will "further increase the organisation's European spirit". He underlined that in the ESA one country means one vote, so it is an equal partnership. The importance of Slovenia's contribution is apparent in, among other things, successful companies like Sinergise, he added.
Slovenia's cooperation with the European Space Agency serves as reference and springboard for Slovenian companies in foreign markets, since working with the ESA is proof of the quality of their products and of their ability to implement complex projects and address high-tech problems.