Space sector

Space Exchange Switzerland: promoting the space sector

The global space sector is expanding rapidly and Switzerland is a key player in this ebullition. Thanks to its scientific and technological expertise, its capacity for innovation and its dynamic ecosystem, Switzerland has managed to occupy a solid position in strategically important areas.

Author: Kamlesh Brocard
A group of people at a conference
The Space Community Days offered space experts from all over Switzerland the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas, for example at the "Space Science and Industry Dialogue" panel. Photo: Alain Herzog/EPFL

In this constantly evolving field, the need to sustain and improve the visibility of the Swiss space community is essential. SERI actively supports national activities in the space sector, including the creation of a national platform: Space Exchange Switzerland, known by the acronym SXS. This platform is backed by a consortium of five academic partners, each contributing their own complementary expertise. The main objective of SXS's four-year mandate is to further boost development of space activities in Switzerland (see info box).

Swiss pavilion at the International Astronautical Congress

SXS contributed to Swiss participation in the space sector by taking part in the Swiss pavilion at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), which was held in Paris in September 2022. Organised each year by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), this congress is recognised as the world’s premier global space event.

The Swiss pavilion was comprised of 80 participants representing no fewer than 30 entities, thus reflecting the diversity of the Swiss ecosystem. Student associations showcased their latest innovative projects and young professionals were able to discuss the various career opportunities in the space sector. And as icing on the cake: twelve exclusive prototypes were put on display in a dedicated area. The Swiss pavilion served as a platform to promote Switzerland on the world stage and facilitate new business contacts. The next event is scheduled to take place in Milan in 2024.

The Swiss pavilion at the International Astronautical Congress
The Swiss pavilion at the International Astronautical Congress: exclusive prototypes of Swiss know-how were on display in the "Chuchichäschtli". Photo: SXS

Space Community Days – dialogue space science researchers and industry

Encouraged by the success of the IAC, SXS organised the Space Community Days in April 2023. Over a two-day period, over 200 space professionals gathered to discuss and find out more about the future opportunities offered by various ESA programmes. The event included sessions that were jointly organised with the National Centre of Competence in Research PlanetS and the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) in Bern. In addition, over fifty B2B meetings were held. This event provided fertile ground for potential synergies between SMEs, space organisations and researchers. The event featured speeches from such eminent figures as Professor Masaki Fujimoto, Deputy Director General of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

In its role as a facilitator, SXS also supports organisers of the Commercial Space Days event where interested parties can learn more about the latest developments in ‘new space’ and the space industry. This event will take place in Lucerne on 11 and 12 September.

Career prospects in the space sector

The public's fascination with Marco Sieber being chosen as an ESA astronaut encourages young people in particular to explore career opportunities in the space sector. The SXS mission includes promoting careers in Switzerland and guiding young people through the various stages of the ESA's recruitment and career mobility process. In May 2022, SXS was accredited as a mobility consortium by Movetia, the national agency for the promotion of exchanges and mobility. With this accreditation, SXS is able to provide grants to facilitate student exchange and mobility. SXS also organises regular 'space clubs' for young people, where various space-related topics are covered in a fun and entertaining way. Finally, the SXS consortium helps student associations, where our future leaders in the space sector will emerge, by putting them in touch with industries and major players in this sector.

Space Exchange Switzerland

SXS is a SERI-funded national platform. It is managed by EPFL (Leading House), ETH Zurich, the University of Zurich (UZH), the University of Applied Sciences of Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) and the University of Lugano (USI). Its mandate in the space sector includes:

  • facilitating the creation of vocational education and training in cooperation with professional organisations and vocational schools;
  • organising and supporting awareness-raising and consultation activities;
  • encouraging students and young professionals to take part in exchange and mobility programmes leading to the ESA;
  • Helping SERI to harmonise technologies (advisory role in the ESA Technology Harmonisation Advisory Group) and hosting the National Scientific Point of Contact for satellite imagery, including the provision of professional and technical support to Earth observation programmes.

Nathan Roulet, SERI Scientific Advisor Swiss Space Office +41 58 485 08 92

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