The development of innovation and testing approaches is one of the aspects most relevant in 2021 and for 2022.

In Europe, for instance, the development of a strategy to spur innovation was indicated as a top priority during the European Space Conference 2022, including through the first ever Space Partnership and the use of public procurement to fund large projects and assist small companies, including for testing and de-risking new solutions.

In addition, Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH), as well as Testing and Experimentation Facilities (TEF), were launched in 2021. DIH will function as one-stop shops to help companies respond to the digital challenges and become more competitive, including by providing access to technical expertise and experimentation, as well as the possibility to 'test before invest'. Established under the Digital Europe programme, the call to establish a network of European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH) was launched in 2021. TEF, also introduced in the Digital Europe Programme, aim to be specialised reference sites open to all technology providers across Europe to test and experiment state-of-the art AI-based soft-and hardware solutions and products. Though it will focus on four sectors – manufacturing, healthcare, agri-food and smart cities and communities – space technology plays a relevant role in all of them.

In Portugal, the legal framework for Technological Free Zones (ZLT) was approved in 2021. ZLT, which shall be established in accordance with the principles and rules provided in the legal framework, are regulatory sandboxes, geographically located, where tests can be performed in a real or quasi-real environment with the monitorization of the competent authorities.