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Emirates Space Innovation Group holds third meeting at AUS

Posted 4 April 2017 · Add Comment

The Emirates Space Innovation Group (ESIG) has held its third meeting with its member organisations since being formed by the UAE Space Agency in May 2016.

The cross-sector group met at American University of Sharjah to discuss updates across a number of innovative space projects and activities, as well as outlining plans and funding for future initiatives and missions.

The session was opened by Dr. Bjorn Kjerfve, Chancellor of American University of Sharjah, before being led by the ESIG chairman Khaled Al Hashimi, Director of Space Missions, Science and Technology at the UAE Space Agency.

In particular, the meeting and workshop discussion saw the Space Agency brief participating organisations on proposal processes for collaborative projects in 2018. As the federal body, the Space Agency is responsible for supporting and overseeing projects throughout the national space sector and industry, including university projects that will advance local expertise and bring further innovation to the field on a local, regional and international level.

The meeting went on to include updates regarding current projects from each of the member organizations, such as CubeSat and NanoSat builds, innovative research and development, and analyses of data gathered from satellites.

Discussions also focused on collaborative efforts to further leverage science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields throughout the UAE, which is in the interests of the sector as a whole.

Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency, said: “ESIG represents two major cornerstones of the UAE Space Agency’s strategic objectives. Firstly, we are encouraging and facilitating an environment of innovation across the national space sector’s principal stakeholders. Secondly, we are providing a collaborative platform by bringing major local and regional players together to discuss joint projects and collective efforts.” 

Al Ahbabi noted that the wide and active participation by space sector stakeholders throughout ESIG meetings demonstrates the important role played by the group in driving innovation throughout the sector. Ultimately, this comes as part of efforts to advance the national space sector and maintain its leading role in the region, he concluded. 

Khaled Al Hashimi, Director of Space Missions, Science and Technology at the UAE Space Agency, said: “These ESIG meetings highlight the capacity building initiatives taking place in the UAE, and help members identify possible areas of collaboration. By working closely with universities and their space-related departments, we are rapidly advancing the means available to Emirati youth seeking to study space sciences and enter the sector. This is an essential element for further progressing in this advanced field.” 

On the sidelines of the event, Dr. Bjorn Kjerfve appreciated the UAE government prioritising science and engineering in the UAE, and providing such an engaging focal point for STEM students and researchers. 

Dr. Kjerfve also said the importance of providing a framework for universities to collaborate and contribute to national space efforts. “It’s important to bring together expertise, and for such expertise to come from so many universities is exceptional. This will have a great impact on the sector, and I’m hoping that the outcome of this meeting today will further advance the space program in the UAE,” he said.

Industry bodies participating in the ESIG meeting included YahSat, Thuraya, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), Tawazun and the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi. 

Universities attending the third meeting included American University of Sharjah, New York University Abu Dhabi, Khalifa University, Masdar Institute, American University of Ras Al Khaimah, Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, Zayed University, University of Sharjah and UAE University. The Sharjah Center for Astronomy and Space Sciences also took part in the session.

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