Working to improve opportunities for space photonics in Europe

Posted on: 26/07/2018

Space technologies based on photonics are considered one of Europe’s key industrial strengths.

They have a huge potential to address challenges faced by society, in particular around health and wellbeing, climate action and secure societies. But there is a gap between space research in certain fields such as photonics and its application on the ground. Public policy needs to address this gap.

A long-term challenge is to ensure that R&I investments exploit the opportunities offered by space (e.g. huge availability of data and signals). This can be done by ensuring that applications and services are produced to address societal challenges and that they reach the market.

The STEPHANIE project (Space TEchnology with Photonics for market and societal challenges) is funded by the European Union to ensure the sharing of good practice around space photonics in Europe.

The project brings together 8 partners from 7 areas in Europe, to exchange knowledge on how to make sure that policy is designed to guarantee real benefits from space technology based on photonics.

KTN’s role within the STEPHANIE project

Business Durham, the economic development organisation for County Durham, is the UK partner involved in STEPHANIE. Business Durham brings its strong expertise in policy to the project. They are getting support from Matthew Wasley, KTN’s expert in photonics and Andy Bennett, KTN’s expert in space. Other partners from different EU regions are also have extensive experience in policy and work with experts in the space photonics field from their country.

Matthew attended the fourth STEPHANIE Interregional Learning Event in Dusseldorf in early July, along with Elaine Scott, Innovation Development Manager at Business Durham.

During the event, Matthew talked about the photonics sector in the UK.

“ The photonics sector in the UK is very strong, contributing £12.9 billion to the economy each year. They are many photonics companies that are developing technology relevant to the space sector that haven’t seized that opportunity yet. We’d like to change that and see more UK companies involved in space photonics.”

The STEPHANIE project has another three and a half years to go and is creating concrete measures for policy improvements. Policy changes will help to open new markets for enterprises. It will also improve the regions’ capacity to direct European space policies and strategies, particularly those that relate to photonics.

If you work in the photonics sector and would like to get involved in space photonics, get in touch with Matthew Wasley.
If you would like to know more about the STEPHANIE project, contact Elaine Scott at

Keep up to date with STEPHANIE by following @KTN_EU and #STEPH_EU.

Click here to find out about the other European projects that KTN is involved with.

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