Space technology and photonics are among the key research and industrial competences in Europe. Due to the high demands and standards, the combination of these two technologies has a great potential to address a number of current and future societal challenges in an innovative and sustainable way. These include, for example, health, well-being, climate protection and security.

The regional NRW-partner of the Interreg Europe project STEPHANIE, the cluster NanoMicroMaterialsPhotonics.NRW, organized the second SPIA meeting on December 4th, 2017 in Düsseldorf to address these topics. "SPIA" stands for Space and Photonics Innovation Actors. It refers to actors from industry and science in the field of photonics in extra-terrestrial applications such as sensors and communication.

Conclusion of the last SPIA meeting was that the state of NRW is home to a raft of important suppliers with a wide range of innovative solutions. The second workshop focused on developing and discussing ideas for strengthening the competitiveness of NRW in this area.

Not only proposals in the direction of politics, but also ideas for networks such as the state clusters, and also for the actors themselves were developed and presented. As a central success factor, the networking of the actors among each other was identified again at this event, for example through events such as the SPIA meeting of the state cluster NMWP.NRW. Another important factor is to increase the visibility of stakeholders, funding instruments and current developments in order to sensitize potential users to the technical possibilities and solutions, thereby generating added value and opening up new markets.

To develop recommendations as realistic and focused as possible, the input and the feedback of the actors in this Interreg Europe project are crucial. Accordingly, further SPIA meetings will take place periodically. The next SPIA meeting for the region of North Rhine-Westphalia will take place in the second quarter of 2018. In summer of 2018 an “Interregional Learning Event”, a meeting of all partner regions of the project STEPHANIE, will be hosted in North Rhine-Westphalia.