On 7 and 8 February 2017, the 8 partners of the Interreg Europe project STEPHANIE ("Space Technology with Photonics for Market and Social Challenges") met for the first time at the Institute of Applied Physics "Nello Carrara" of the Italian National Research Council (IFAC-CNR) in Sesto Fiorentino near Florence.

The STEPHANIE project aims at directing policies towards photonics-based space technologies that address some of our major socio-environmental challenges of today.

In more detail, the partners will share their knowledge of two critical subjects that are considered essential for the support of research and innovation delivery: (1) the quadruple helix cooperation between public authorities, private businesses, academia, and end-users along technology value chains at regional and interregional level, and (2) coordinated and simplified funding schemes for the development of marketable and society-oriented products and services. Improvements of these two critical pillars will lead to enhanced regional competitiveness and innovation capacity.

The meeting was an important tool to promote team building among the project partners. Beside the networking, the main objectives of the meeting were to review the work plan, to clarify organisational and technical issues, as well as to start with exchanging existing experiences and good practices in the two subject areas of the project mentioned above. The meeting was completed by a study visit and an interactive workshop, in which the project partners together with local key stakeholders from the space technology and photonics sector discussed about regional peculiarities in the field of space research with a particular focus on the political context.

The next partner meeting will take place in Prague in June 2017.