Europe’s efforts to build its global navigation satellite system (GNSS) include measures to collaborate with other territories on space programmes and satellite applications. In Brussels, key stakeholders met recently to discuss their GNSS outreach to Asia.
That is the idea behind GNSS.asia, an initiative designed to seek business opportunities, promote trade and launch industrial GNSS cooperation projects amongst European and Asian companies. GNSS.asia, which began at the start of 2012 and runs for 30 months, follows twin paths of business link-ups and political cooperation. At a GNSS Industry Seminar in Brussels organised by GNSS.asia on 26 September, stakeholders explained the potential business prospects in five dynamic Asian economies: China, Japan, India, South Korea and Taiwan. The meeting gave participants – from business and from industry associations – plenty of ideas for business development in Asia, with market information for each of the five economies.
GNSS.asia co-coordinator Rainer Horn, Managing Partner from SpaceTec Partners, explained that the project's objective is to define an industrial cooperation strategy between the European Union and the five Asian economies, and support concrete collaboration opportunities between companies. Horn described GNSS.asia as “a matchmaking process” designed to fit European businesses to Asian partners. He added that the project will help to raise awareness in Asia about the Galileo programme and EGNOS, Europe’s satellite-based augmentation system, while ensuring Galileo-compatible technology was in chipsets and receivers.
His fellow co-coordinator Daniel Ludwig, from Daniel Ludwig Consultant (DLC), underlined the role of the European Commission as a public partner in Galileo, and of the European GNSS Agency (GSA) in the development of applications. “This is essential, for both the credibility of the schedule of delivery of services, and for the political impact of the cooperation on industry,” he said. This, he pointed out, was crucial as the EU is actively seeking GNSS cooperation on issues like standardisation, interoperability and compatibility. “Ten years ago, we had to convince people that we needed Galileo. Now that we have proof that Galileo can offer high quality services, we should show people the opportunities available to businesses.”
LBS and road services
Ludwig said that the market overview showed that location-based services (LBS) and road services are vital applications in all the five economies, while the development of multi-GNSS/GPS receivers is key, with sensor integration. He also warned about copyright issues in some areas, but added that there are helpdesks for businesses in each country.
GSA’s Market Development Project Officer Justyna Redelkiewicz said the Asian-Pacific market is currently the largest, accounting for 34% of worldwide shipments, compared to 25% for Europe and 28% for North America. She added that Asia Pacific shipment of GPS/GNSS integrated shipments are expected to rise 21.7% between 2012 and 2017, while global shipments of GNSS devices will exceed 1 billion units by 2020.
The seminar included several presentations on the Asia GNSS market which offers many options for manufacturing GNSS downstream equipment, as well as being home to chipsets serving mass markets in GNSS. In some markets, like Japan and Korea, the very high use of mobile phones for emailing, streaming and gaming is a particular prospect.
Market surveys underway
Fabrizio Mura, from the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation, said that Japan is a big, attractive, technology hungry market, but difficult to penetrate. “Market entry is a medium risk, high cost, with high expectations from customers and prospects of long term returns,” he said. Japan has a GPS-based augmented system, QZSS (seven satellites are expected in orbit by 2020), and Mura recommended businesses to consider joint QZSS and Galileo applications.
Senthil Kumar, the project manager from European Business Group India, pointed out that India has a long established space programme, its own GPS and geo-augmented navigation system (GAGAN) will be ready by 2013, while the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) is set to launch first satellite in 2013. Among the potential prospects, she said that with fast growing car use and rising congestion, there was an increasing demand for transport management systems. He also suggested joint research and development in new areas of satellite signal usage. “India has a large pool of young, talented and affordable workforce,” he said. “It is a laboratory for creating products that are suitable for emerging economies.”
Tomasz Wierzbowski, project manager for GNSS.asia in Korea said that the sustained GPS jamming from North Korea is an important issue, affecting in particular the aviation and security sectors of South Korea.
Angela Hsiao and Pascal Viaud, from European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan, said that Taiwan, though relatively small, is the world’s largest semiconductor market. They suggested businesses take advantage of the country’s position as a transformation hub, importing huge amounts of electronics, and exporting components, equipment and tools
European industry representatives welcomed the initiative and the support offered for international industrial cooperation. Peter Grognard, the CEO of Belgian Receiver Manufacturer Septentrio, noted the importance of underlining to Asian stakeholders the world class services offered by Galileo, which often exceed the mission requirements and will enable a variety of improved or new applications.
GNSS.asia is also organising similar workshops in the Asian economies over the next few months, tied to major trade shows. Upcoming workshops are Taipei, Taiwan, November 6 (in parallel with the ITST-2012 conference); Beijing, China, November 7 (the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems meeting); and Jeju, Korea November 9 (Korea GNSS Society (KGS) Conference).