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Symphonie aims high in EC call for satellite connectivity

Newly formed consortium led by Unseenlabs and Euroconsult responds to European Commission call for tenders to collect disruptive ideas for an ‘innovative’ European broadband constellation in space sector

A consortium of more than 20 European space sector companies has been assembled in response to a European Commission (EC) call for tenders.

The tender document is entitled New space solutions for long-term availability of reliable, secure, cost-effective space-based connectivity and the consortium, known as New Symphonie, is being led by satellite-based radio-frequency detection services provider Unseenlabs and global strategy consulting and market intelligence firm Euroconsult. It was set up specifically for the call, which was launched by the EC with assistance from its Directorate General Defence Industry and Space.

New Symphonie has 22 members from eight European countries, in what is hoped will bring a multinational approach to its European core. The consortium’s name is derived from Symphonie, which was the first operational communication satellite launched in 1974 as a part of a Franco-German agreement. Symphonie was a forerunner for the subsequent French and German national communication satellite programmes that enabled the European geostationary satellite industry to evolve into a sovereign industry.

New Symphonie has responded to the EC call to propose what it says is an ambitious system of multi-orbit satellite systems to provide reliable, secure and cost-effective connectivity to European governments and commercial entities globally. The consortium includes Aerospacelab, Anywaves, Avio, Cailabs, De-Cix, Exolaunch, Exotrail, Fresnel Alliance, Gomspace, Greenerwave, Integrasys, Ksat, Loft Orbital, Qest Antenna Technology, Satconsult, Secure-Ic, Sener, Sitael, Tesat and Transatel. The tender outcome is set to be announced within the last quarter of 2021.

The group says it has “new space” at its heart, with the majority of members representing commercially minded small and medium-sized businesses. It is coordinated by Unseenlabs, which currently operates a constellation of four satellites in orbit – with 25 projected for 2025 – processing and delivering geolocation and monitoring data as-a-service to clients worldwide, in partnership with Euroconsult, which specialises in the space sector and satellite-enabled verticals.

The consortium is responding to the 2020 State of the Union address by EC president Ursula von der Leyen which stressed the importance of secure connectivity. With the EU economy and society undergoing a continuous digital transformation and both geopolitical and cyber security threats on the increase, the EC says the need for secure and resilient global connectivity has never been greater and the Commission’s tender aims to identify and assess new disruptive ideas for moving from Govsatcom to a secure space connectivity system and tap into the growing potential of the commercial space ecosystem, in order to define an innovative EU space-based global secure connectivity system that can deliver communication services for governmental and non-governmental users.

The procurement will award up to two contracts of six months’ duration, each with a maximum value of €1.4m, with award criteria assessing the degree of innovation and inclusion of leading-edge technologies, as well as aspects such technical quality and originality of response.

In a joint statement outlining the prospects for the consortium, Clément and Jonathan Galic, co-founders and respectively CEO and CTO of Unseenlabs, said: “We are delighted to offer a credible, affordable and disruptive vision, with a purposeful but pragmatic step-by-step approach matching the European Commission’s expectations.”

Euroconsult Group CEO Pacôme Revillon added: “Each member of New Symphonie is a recognised leader in its business field, and as a whole, the consortium is greater than the sum of its members, ready to contribute to a more sovereign and autonomous EU as well as provide socio-economic benefits to its 450 million citizens.”

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