Until recently, the Ukrainian spacetech community was represented by 5 regional space clusters (including Dnipro Space Cluster, “DSC”). They cover all of Ukraine (with the exception of its occupied territories) and have more than 200 participants – leading universities, scientific and municipal institutions, as well as state and private enterprises. These clusters represent key competences in the aerospace industry, both upstream and downstream, including innovative developments and services in Industry 4.0. On January 20, 2022, these clusters founded the All-Ukrainian Association of Innovative Space Clusters (OIKK) in Odesa, one of the main goals of which is to promote internationalization of the innovative activities of its members.
With eruption of the hot phase of the war in February 2022, the newly created innovative spacetech ecosystem in Ukraine faced the following challenges: risk of degradation and practical nullification of hi-tech centers, innovation and expertise that were inherited from the Soviet era or developed recently, and the need to bolster contribution of the sector in solving defense and security problems. Instead, development and implementation of innovations abroad is accelerating in aerospace industry – in particular, the EU and Canada finance these processes through post-pandemic recovery funds and other programs.
Ukrainian technologies and production capacities, particularly in the rocket and space industry, would increase competitiveness of all parties interested in development of innovative products. Thus, international cooperation represents a mutually beneficial and truly effective opportunity not only to preserve, but also to strengthen and develop innovative ecosystem in space and other high-tech sectors in Ukraine.
That is why, at the end of June 2022, DSC and OIKK agreed with partners from Greece, Cyprus, Canada, Georgia and Ukraine to establish and deepen multilateral relations with a focus on innovation and R&D in aerospace and marine technologies. Colleagues from the mentioned countries worked within the Tanais Innovation and Aerospace Supercluster Initiative (TIASI) – an international colaboration and investment platform (“meta-cluster“) led by Canadian GC company. TIASI brings together stakeholders in aerospace and other hi-tech industries and provides access to funds from the EU and other sources for implementation of innovations.
Such an agreement was preceded by development by partners during 2021-1H2022 of the multilateral cooperation agenda for the coming years with aim to significantly increase growth in the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean region and globally as well as increase participation of Ukrainian partners in projects in the following sectors: Aerospace, Advanced Manufacturing, Shipbuilding, Energy Infrastructure and Tooling, 3D-printing, while developing Education&Training, R&D and Marketing&PR.
The first important element of this agenda is the meeting of the Ukrainian-Greek intergovernmental commission, which is planned for the 4Q2022. DSC and its Ukrainian and foreign partners have prepared strong agenda proposals for a comprehensive Ukrainian-Greek cooperation program in strategic industries, and have started consultations on preparation of relevant Ukrainian and Greek positions. The meeting of the Commission has every chance to become a turning point in constructing strategic partnership between the key players of Ukrainian, Greek, Cypriot and Canadian aerospace and some other high-tech sectors, as well as in internationalization of the relevant clusters and their associations.
The mentioned partnership will be created with Greek and Cypriot companies, universities and government organizations, which, having a certain industrial and scientific and technical potential of their own, have avoided cooperation with Ukraine in fields of high technologies and development of “Blue Economy” for a long time. Therefore, the partners, as guidelines, proposed separate initiatives and measures implemented both by their own forces and in cooperation between them, among them significant projects for development of aerospace and marine industries, as well as programs for development of relevant innovative ecosystems.
TIASI brings together stakeholders in aerospace and other innovative industries and allows access to funding through the EU and other sources for implementation of new innovative technologies. Agenda of cooperation in the international TIASI meta-cluster is built on the basis of bilateral and multilateral projects development. DSC, OIKK, our colleagues from the Maritime Cluster of Ukraine, the Canadian-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce, etc. generate lion’s share of proposals for cooperation. GC acts as the main matchmaker for innovative development in meta-cluster, because each of the partners has signed a bilateral agreement with this company.
Among other things, international metacluster’s directions of cooperation for the next 3 years are defined as:
- Upgrading infrastructure of leading universities involved in the development programs of both upstream and downstream innovative space technologies;
- Training of specialists in the field of aerospace and other high technologies, in particular for solving problems of “Blue Economy”;
- Implementation of joint scientific and technical projects in the field of aerospace technology, marine industry, mechanical and power engineering, biomedicine, IT, etc;
- Commercialization of research results;
- Establishment of joint research and development and training laboratories;
- Implementation of joint educational projects and programs in the parties’ areas of interest;
- Systematic exchange of academic and professional staff and PhD students from partner institutions, and research fellows, in order to create agreed curricula and other mutually beneficial joint ventures;
- Creation of joint Innovation Technology Centres.
- Participation in Erasmus programs.
- Opening joint programs for receiving scientific degrees and academic grades.
These areas of cooperation are discussed during high-level meetings (in ministries and other state bodies of Ukraine, Greece, Cyprus, etc.), international online conferences. The first major online exchange took place in June 2022, the second is planned for September 30, 2022. It will discuss the strategy for development of space activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea region. The working group is intensively preparing the mentioned measures. General issues of the organization are handled by Sotiris Bouzeas, President of TIASI.
In parallel, DSC and other members of the metacluster are in constant contact regarding cooperation in international grant projects and intensive preparation of grant applications already this year.
We are convinced that this is the way to build multilateral relations with partners from the EU, Eastern Mediterranean, Black Sea countries and Canada, with a view to medium and long-term perspective and taking into account the partners’ interests.
International activity of innovative space clusters in Ukraine is not limited to implementation of a multilateral agenda within a certain region. The All-Ukrainian Association of Innovative Space Clusters implements other joint international initiatives and proposals of individual participants of regional innovative space clusters, in particular the following:
1) Qualitative presentation of the OIKK and the entire pool of space clusters; for this purpose, such communication tools as brochures, leaflets and in-depth presentations, as well as pages on the Internet and social networks are developed. Currently, some of these tools are lacking, and active internationalization of the space-tech ecosystem requires their rapid and professional creation.
2) Completion of formation of services packages of that can be jointly provided by OIKK and DSC participants, in particular, analysis of the Earth remote sensing data, navigation using orbital means, etc. Currently, within the framework of OIKK, the existing marketplace for the remote sensing services is being refined. During the period of martial law, it was put into closed mode. Creating a base of commercial resources is a certain challenge for regional space clusters, since level of needs, aggregation of services and allocation of resources for their acquisition is uneven across regions;
3) Attracting financial resources for implementation of scientific and technical, humanitarian, social and security projects;
4) Collective participation in international events, in particular in the 4th quarter. In 2022, participation of DSC and OIKK representatives in the Ukrainian delegations in Brno is planned for October 6-8, 2022 (led by the Ukrainian Cluster Alliance), including its special Aerospace Day; Aeromart, Toulouse, 29.11-01.12.2022, and specialized satellite exhibitions in Glasgow (Scotland) and Kobe (Japan).
Participation in some of them will take place online, but the most important international events require personal participation of the space stack system key representatives. Equally important is participation of DSC in international events organized by the European Space Program Agency (EUSPA), dedicated to emergency humanitarian and anti-crisis aid programs for Ukraine, as well as recovery of Ukraine’s regions in the post-war period (October 3-5, 2022, Prague). The detailed program of those visits and B2B meetings as well as relations with foreign partners is handled by Dr. Yevgen Rokytskyi, Chairman of the Board of DSC and OIKK. Corresponding collective proposals from Ukrainian space community are being prepared.
Therefore, creation and implementation of multilateral regional and global cooperation agenda, as well as implementation of collective initiatives for international promotion of Ukrainian spacetech ecosystem participants’ achievements, which are united by the DSC and the OIKK, powerfully stimulate export and development of that industry in international context.
The publication was prepared with the support of the European Union as part of implementation of the EU project “Internationalization of the Ukrainian Cluster Alliance: improving direct dialogue between European and Ukrainian professional communities during the war”. The presented material reflects position of DKK and OIKK and does not necessarily reflect opinion of the European Union.