Space exploration is an important driving force for the development of new technologies. The space industry is also a sector whose applications underpin economic growth. Balancing the efforts of the EU Member States and key players, the EU allocated millions of Euros for funding this theme under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). In 2007, the EU started funding the network of NCPs for space research that was named COSMOS (Cooperation of space NCPs as a means to optimise services). This enabled the NCPs to identify and exchange good practices, elaborate and conduct training courses for their staff, gather and provide up-to-date information on space and related topics. During COSMOS, project partners learned about staff exchanges, joint research activities as well as each other's needs. COSMOS+ (Continuation of the cooperation of space NCPs as a means to optimise services) was based on these experiences. The project aimed to raise awareness of the funding opportunities under the FP7 and Horizon 2020 space programme. For this purpose, new services were established, including a joint website and a news service providing information on space-related topics in the calls for proposal. In preparation for Horizon 2020, international information days were organised in eight different countries and support for consortia building was provided through partner search events. COSMOS+ brought together more than 20 scientific research agencies from around Europe. Among the project's aims was fostering contacts between all partners, stakeholders and other countries. A coaching and mentoring system was implemented to improve collaboration among key space players and in particular, small and medium-sized enterprises. More importantly, COSMOS+ ensured the smooth continuation of all services beyond 2013 under COSMOS2020 where more activities will reinforce the cooperation of NCPs for space.
National contact points, space exploration, economic growth, funding opportunities, coaching and mentoring system