The Speakers

Zdravko Počivalšek

Minister of Economic Development and Technology

Zdravko Počivalšek is a Minister of Economic Development and Technology from 2014. His managerial experiences go back to running one of the best spa resorts in Slovenia Terme Olimia and Mlekarna Celeia dairy company.
He received an award from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for his exceptional achievements in business and was named Manager of the Year in 2010.

Under his leadership, the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology has adopted various measures to ensure a stable, predictable and competitive economic environment for the growth and development of Slovenian companies in Slovenian and foreign markets.

Thierry Breton

European Commissioner for Internal Market
European Commission

Thierry Breton ran several companies and served as CEO at Bull, Thomson Multimédia and France Télécom. From 2005 to 2007, he served as French Minister of Economy, Finance, and Industry before joining Harvard Business School as a Professor. In 2009, he became CEO at Atos, a function he held until 2019 when he became the European Commissioner for Internal Market. His portfolio includes industry, goods and services, digital, defence, space, tourism and audio-visual topics.

Catherine Kavvada

Director for Innovation and Outreach, Directorate General for Defence Industry and Space
European Commission

Ms Kavvada joined the European Commission, in Brussels, in 1997 and worked initially in the Research Framework Programmes.
Subsequently, as from 2000 her main service at the Commisssion related to space, in particular the European flagship Satellite Navigation Programmes Galileo and EGNOS (Head of Unit from 2011 to 2019 at DG GROW).
Currently the mandate of Ms Kavvada at the Directorate ‘Innovation and Outreach’ at DG DEFIS comprises new space initiatives with prevalent resilience and security features, space data management policy with reinforced European credentials, mainstreaming of the European New Space as a vector for society and economy, space research, synergies between space and defence industry, and international relations and communication for the whole of DG DEFIS.

Elodie Viau

Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications
European Space Agency

For the past 12 years, Elodie Viau has worked for SES, one of the world’s leading satellite owners and operators, based in Betzdorf, Luxembourg. She began her career with SES on a two-year Leadership Development Programme, working in a variety of roles on four missions within SES subsidiaries in Luxembourg, the Netherlands and USA.
In 2010, Ms Viau moved to SES Technology, Space Systems and Operations, in Toulouse, France, as a Satellite Programmes Senior Engineer. Here she served as Deputy Programme Manager for six satellites (ASTRA 1N, 2F, 2E, 2G, 5B and SES-6) built by Airbus Space. Between 2014 and 2018, she was the Programme Manager for the SES-10, SES-12 and SES-14 satellites built by Airbus Space.
In 2018, she moved back to Luxembourg to become Senior Manager and then Director of SES New Space Segment Development and, until recently, she was Vice-President for SES Technology Programme Management.

Olivier Lemaitre

Secretary General


Olivier has a long-standing experience and a strong network in the European space policy sector, at the crossroads of the private and the public sector.

He has been part of the Belgian delegation to the ESA Council and also advising the Belgian Permanent Representation on space matters, under the authority of E. Beka, High representative of Belgium for space policy. Olivier then moved to Eurospace, as Head of the Brussels Office until 2014, when he has been hired by Thales Alenia Space as director for EU affairs.

Aarti Holla-Maini

Secretary General
ESOA, EMEA satellite operators Association

Aarti Holla-Maini has been Secretary General of the ESOA since 2004.
She was named one of the Faces of Satellite of 2014 by the Society of Satellite Professionals International and is Member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Space Technology.
Under Aarti’s leadership, ESOA & the CEOs of its member companies lead the effort to showcase the benefits of satellite communications for a more inclusive and secure society and foster a better environment to allow users to profit from satellite services that are available anywhere, anytime – vital to bridging the world’s digital divide and achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Juan Tomas Hernani

CEO of SATLANTIS and President of the Young European Enterprises Syndicate Space (YEESS)

Juan Tomás Hernani is the Founder and CEO of SATLANTIS, Space Camera business for micro & CubeSats, with 5 flight Earth Observation missions with JAXA, NASA and ESA.
He had various membership positions in different organisations such as President of Metalingua, a non-profit association for the technology development tools and promotion of multilingual capabilities of non-majority languages in the digital domain (2012-2018). Finally, he is also a board member at Egile group, a high precision mechanics group working mainly in the aerospace business.
Since September 2021, Juan Tomás co-founded the Yeess initiative together with six European young space enterprises from Belgium, France, Germany and Spain (AEROSPACELAB, ANYWAVES, ConstellR, EXOTRAIL, PANGEA AEROSPACE and SATLANTIS), a representation platform for New Space enterprises in Europe.

Niklas Nienass

Member of the European Parliament

Niklas Nienass is Member of the European Parliament for The Greens/EFA. In 2020 he finished his master studies in Good Governance with a thesis on international space law. The focus of his political work lies on strengthening European cohesion through regional development and cultural policy. His further priorities are youth and space.
Niklas is committed to thinking climate protection and social justice together, to provide better legal protection and social security for artists and creatives and to develop the European Union into a federal state.