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Editorial by EARSC's Secretary General Emmanuel Pajot

Emmanuel Pajot

Despite Covid, the EO Industry market continues its growth!

The publication of the EARSC Industry Survey is a milestone for the association. Initially published every other year, EARSC started in 2020 to publish a shorter survey in between. Based on numbers directly gathered from EO companies and monitoring of European EO companies performed by the Secretariat, the EARSC Industry Survey has a bottom-up approach. This year, the Industry Survey covers the 2020 pandemic period, a stressful period for companies. When we interviewed our members in March/April 2020, they shared they didn't have an accurate forecast on sales after six months-time. This Industry Survey provides a first snapshot of the short-term effect, which must be taken with caution not to extrapolate with a longer-term impact.

Four key numbers characterize the Industry Survey:

The number of companies: the identification of new EO companies is a challenging exercise. The number of companies increased by 24% compared to the previous survey reaching 713. If some may not have been identified in 2019, this still represents the sector's overall growth.
The number of employees: the EO downstream Industry represent a pool of 11,600 jobs, up from 9800 in 2019, i.e. a 17% growth for the two successive years. Amongst the changes, we see a higher contribution of initially non-EO companies such as GI ones incorporating now EO into their business services.
The total revenues in the sector in 2020 is 1,71b€ representing a growth rate of 25% over the last 12 months. The most significant share comes from small companies, whereas the most extensive growth comes from medium-sized companies.
The growth rate: the 5-year CAGR has been sustained at 10% since 2013.

In terms of markets, the domestic market share decreased a bit, illustrating the capabilities of European companies to sell services abroad. On the international market, the Middle East market presents the highest growth. An exciting message demonstrating the success of European companies to find new customers and develop user acceptance.

Further to the publication of this Industry Survey, we will now start the upcoming one. I would like to warmly thank the 150 companies that contributed to this achievement, sharing their numbers.

Tell us a bit more about your company

At ICEYE, we deliver unmatched persistent monitoring capabilities for any location on earth. We operate the world’s largest synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite constellation, and we enable our clients to take objective, data-driven decisions, in sectors such as insurance, natural catastrophe response and recovery, security, maritime monitoring and finance. Traditional optical and radar satellites have been around for a long time, but the ability to image with the frequency, clarity and accuracy needed to make operational decisions has never been possible. ICEYE’s data and imagery can be collected anywhere on the globe, day or night, and even through cloud cover.

What makes your services and products unique?

ICEYE is enabling access to entirely new levels of data for the persistent monitoring of large and small areas across the globe – every few hours, day and night, in any weather. From tracking fast-moving objects like vessels in the sea to monitoring and addressing national security issues to potentially predicting natural disasters by identifying millimetre-level changes, ICEYE’s persistent monitoring unlocks previously unseen changes to the environment and human activity. Daily Coherent Ground Track Repeat (GTR) imaging is one of our key new services. It enables detection of everything from large changes, such as monitoring if ships have moved, all the way to detailed changes on-ground that a person on-site would not be able to recognize. The data enables performing Coherent Change Detection (CCD) every 24 hours, which has use cases in detailed monitoring of patterns of life, site activity, ground subsidence, infrastructure integrity, construction, and more. ICEYE now provides the world’s most frequent coherent radar satellite data coverage to a selected initial set of customers. The capability is delivered to customers as daily imagery delivered from individual customer-selected locations. This newly demonstrated capability is expected to be available for a wider customer base in 2022, after the initial early access period. Coherence is a term given for the exact similarity between two radar satellite images. If a car has driven across a field, stockpiles have been adjusted, or forested areas have been cut down, these are seen as changes in the coherence between the chosen two images taken from different times of that location.

What are your future plans for the company?

Natural catastrophe related services are a big part of our focus at ICEYE. So far in 2021, ICEYE has tracked more than 450 potential flood events globally, imaged over 350 potential flood events, and analysed over 30 flood events which each spanned a total area of at least 20,000 km 2 . In total, the company has launched 14 SAR satellites since 2018, with the most recent launch of four new spacecraft taking place in July. ICEYE also recently joined the seventh cohort of the Lloyd’s of London’s innovation accelerator programme, Lloyd’s Lab. Our collaboration with the European Space Agency has also been very successful and we expect it to take more steps forward, as the company has recently signed an agreement to serve as a Contributing Mission to the Copernicus programme, in addition to the Third-Party Mission agreement signed earlier this year.

Innovation fuelled by Earth Observation

An immense opportunity for the development of innovative services and products has opened up: the advent of the Big Data era, spearheaded by Copernicus’ free, full and open data policy and galvanised by the emergence of new business models for exploiting Earth Observation data. 

In order to benefit from this opportunity, start-ups and SMEs need four basic elements: access to capital, knowledge, markets and technology. Starting in May 2019, the PARSEC project set out to make these resources much more accessible through a holistic acceleration programme alongside coaching, training and market entry support.
Since then, the PARSEC Accelerator has enabled the transformation of innovative ideas into market-ready products that bring significant value to users in the food, energy and environment sectors. 100 winners of the first Open Call received a small cash injection of 10K, and 15 winning teams from the second Open Call have benefitted from a substantial grant of 100K. 

PARSEC is supporting the optimum exploitation of EO data and services in support of the implementation of regional smart specialisation strategies and the increased competitiveness of EU companies on the international stage.

Faster, Higher, Stronger

Becoming a market champion in the Earth Observation context implies being able to quickly analyse vast amounts of data, develop services of great value and bring them to as many customers as possible. To help boost these capabilities, PARSEC set up three Large Scale Demonstrators, known as the Business Catalysts:

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The Big Data Toolbox: A suite of resources helping companies to harness the power of big EO data.

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The In-situ Data Hub: A store-house of non-space data that can enhance or validate EO products.

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eoMALL Galleries and eoPages: These portals act as a “window to the market” for solution providers.

The Business Catalysts were developed by innovative SMEs within the PARSEC consortium. Beyond facilitating the acceleration process of new marketable solutions, the “business catalysts” developed in PARSEC will help the greater Earth Observation community to achieve the motto: “Faster, Higher, Stronger”. 

As part of the legacy of PARSEC, these tools will come to complement the technology provided by the Copernicus DIAS platforms. They will support the business models for future EO-based innovation, including – but not limited to – the solutions commercialised through the PARSEC Accelerator.

Let the ideas take flight

After a fierce pitching competition, an independent jury of experts selected the most promising 15 teams representing cross-border and/or cross-sectoral consortia (#15PARSEC). The teams were awarded 100.000€ each in equity-free funding, and can enjoy the support of PARSEC’s second stage business services to help them see their innovations enter the market, until the end of the project in December 2021. Here are the 15 winning solutions! 


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Providing actionable intelligence for development planning and investment

Village Data Analytics

Energy, Food, Environment



Crop Predictions Take Flight

xseedscore

Food



Global oil pollution intelligence 

OKEANOS

Energy, Environment



Snow information for Hydropower

SNOWi

Energy



Automated cotton insurance

Cottonsurance

Environment



Preventing illegal fishing

Copernicus Blue

Environment, Food



Optimizing navigation routes with precision polar fisheries 

POLARIS

Food



Space application for detecting Aedes mosquito risk areas

Dipetron

Environment



Monitoring carbon uptake of forests from space

Foresight Carbon

Environment



Integrated planning for climate resilient and energy renewable cities 

The Century Project

Energy



Observing and understanding the environment

ScyscrApp

Environment



EO and long-range drones combined solution for power line inspections.

Rom(EO)

Energy



Air Quality-Based Urban Routing and Information

HealthyPlaces

Environment



EO-Based Digital Chemical-free Plant Protection System

IO3T

Food



Pest and disease warning and prediction platform for horticulture 

Space4Fauna

Environment

On the Horizon 

We are examining options for the future of the accelerator beyond the end of the project, and are seeking ways in which we can continue to support the development of EO-based products and services, enabling access to finance, knowledge, markets and expertise.


Are you interested in future partnership?  Let us know here and we will contact you shortly.

Follow us, as our journey continues, with our next flagship event, presenting the results of the PARSEC Accelerator, in December.

Twitter: @PARSEC_EU 

Facebook: PARSEC Accelerator

LinkedIn Group: PARSEC Accelerator

For further information 

Project Coordinator

Mr. Emmanuel Pajot  

email: emmanuel.pajot@earsc.org

Tel: +32487743569

Project Manager

Mrs. Weronika Borejko 

email: weronika.borejko@earsc.org

Tel: +48663881993

The PARSEC project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 824478.

Tell us a bit more about your company

Our mission is to help both earth observation businesses and other markets to grow taking away complexity of imaging and providing easy, timely, and cost-effective access to satellite and airborne data. We enable this through our unique combination of best-in-class platform technology, extensive range of image sources, combined decades of years of Earth Observation market expertise, and independent and committed customer support. To date, we have provided imagery solutions to customers across 59 countries, and have implemented 20 R&D projects. Geocento was founded on December 1, 2011, so we will be celebrating our 10-year anniversary in a few weeks!

What makes your services and products unique?


As a user of imagery, you should not have to identify and compare providers, navigate their complex range of products and services and commit money to one supplier before knowing that their data is the most suitable, or whether the data can be collected successfully. You should have a simple way of being able to select and access imagery without being some kind of earth observation expert with a detailed grasp of jargon, technical specifications and the latest order parameters! You should have a simple way of identifying what you want, ordering the most suitable product or service, and then receiving it, all through the same platform! That is why we have developed EarthImages – the industry platform of choice for discovery and ordering of imagery from a market-leading range of image suppliers. Currently, it provides access to data from 87 satellite sensors… or more than 230 if we include Planet’s fleet!

With EarthImages, you can access a broad range of imagery products from commercial ultra-high-resolution optical 15 cm HD, SAR, hyperspectral, night and video to non-commercial data sources (which we provide “for free”). This is unique – no other industry platform offers all this in one place! And it is not only about the vast sensor portfolio. EarthImages is a powerful application that allows you to manage and use your imagery in one place. For example, you can keep a track of your orders, configure and compare image plans, and share imaging campaigns across multiple users and organizations. Your project team can be involved in evaluating and selecting imagery. Online license signing, choice of payment methods and simplified delivery are standard. Furthermore, you can render your imagery directly and store it securely in the platform. There is no need to download and embed it into another application. If you create your own algorithms, you can host them on our platform and apply them to your data, avoiding the need to "take the imagery to the algorithm". To display results using our map client, you just need to copy and paste the URL – and you have them added to your environment. The full range of capabilities of EarthImages can also be integrated into your own operations using our convenient API tools, or can be customized as a white label web application.

It is worth adding that we provide consulting and support clients at each stage of their imagery journey: from clear definition of business needs to operations and staff straining. You can access the open version of EarthImages free of charge here. Please contact us if you require advanced tools and would like to discuss enterprise solutions.

What are your future plans for the company and your products?

Currently, we are working on an ambitious and very exciting service called EarthImages-on-Demand. This service is all about fresh collection of imagery that puts the customer in control, with competition between suppliers driving
standards for the benefit of the market. A user simply specifies what he or she wants, when and where. The request is then broadcast to all relevant suppliers in real time. All relevant suppliers receive the request and respond according to their imaging capacity. Money is committed but no payment is required unless and until the order is completed to full specification – we provide quality control. The whole collection process is managed using a shared image acquisition plan that enables suppliers to make informed decisions on collection while the user is kept informed of progress. As you can see, it is designed to be very easy and user-friendly! We would love to hear from early adopters who wish to benefit from using EarthImages-on-Demand before its commercial release. Please send us a request if you have a possible pilot project, or just wish to find out more. You can find more information here.

Sounds exciting! Can we join you?

Of course! We are looking for multi-disciplinary talents to join our team in
Oxford, Madrid or remotely. Do send us your CV and cover letter to recruit@geocento.com

How can we contact you?
We are always happy to get in touch! Choose the most preferable way for you. Drop us an email:

Kim Partington, CEO: kim.partington@geocento.com

Thomas Lefort, CTO: thomas.lefort@geocento.com

Maryia Urazaeva, Sales & Marketing Director: maryia.urazaeva@geocento.com


Call us: +44(0)7833136019 or meet us in our offices at Harwell Campus near Oxford and in Madrid, or at industry events. Visit our website, and submit online form: https://geocento.com/ Follow and reach us out on social networks:
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/geocento/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/geocento

  1. Could you tell us a bit about the EUSPA?;  how the agency started, its mission and role in the Galileo programme, some examples of actions that have been taken and some success stories?

Space services have had an impact on economy and society since quite some time across a broad spectrum of industries from aviation and agriculture to maritime and surveying just to name a few. With this in mind, the Commission and the co-legislators (Council and European Parliament) decided to bring the EU space assets under one roof with the creation of the first ever integrated EU Space Programme and the establishment of the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA). EUSPA will become a pillar for Space Programme ensuring the implementation of the EU Space regulation to the fullest. This new agency has increased responsibilities in terms of the Galileo and EGNOS services but also undertakes tasks related to the promotion and commercialisation of the Copernicus data. EUSPA is also coordinating the development of GOVSATCOM, the EU’s secure telecommunications system for governmental users.

Since its inception, the Agency had been engaging with the EU space user community, designing, developing and implementing services that best meet their needs.

To stimulate space innovation in Europe and advance the market uptake of EGNSS we have been transmitting GNSS expertise and market development knowhow, leveraging grants, innovation competitions and R&D schemes to those wishing to make use of EU Space.

We have managed to create a blossoming ecosystem of SMEs, start-ups and academia using European Space technologies. Currently, thanks to our #MyGalileo series competitions, we have mobilized a network of 1000 start-ups, private inventors from all over Europe. This pushed the bar of innovation higher and yielded applications ranging from drone medical deliveries to beekeeping solutions and precision farming projects.

These competitions are part of our adoption strategy for Galileo and EGNOS.

Today, this led to some impressive results. Just to name you few:

  • currently more than 2 billion smartphones are using Galileo,
  • more than 3 million trucks use Galileo and EGNOS in Europe,
  • 15 million cars use EGNSS worldwide and 9 million of those cars are in Europe,
  • Already more than 100 car models on the market are fitted with Galileo and EGNOS solutions, which represents 29 car brands in total.
  • 30% of drones use Galileo
  • 30% of Maritime receivers are Galileo-enabled

Innovation and the support for entrepreneurship is at the heart of our strategy and we are planning to continue to support it for Copernicus downstream development.

  1. The EUSPA has been asked to take on an expanded role to help develop the uptake of Copernicus. How would you describe this new mission?

We’re very excited to have Copernicus onboard for this new EU Space journey. Copernicus is the world’s most advanced Earth Observation system offering a dearth of value-adding services to a growing group of users around the world. EUSPA is in charge of developing downstream commercial applications and markets for Copernicus, fostering innovation, leveraging funding mechanisms such as Fundamental Elements and Horizon Europe. We are already working together with the Entrusted Entities of Copernicus to ensure that all the markets are reached and that commercialization of Copernicus data are bringing added value for European companies and ultimately the citizens.

  1. How does this mission benefit from the existing role in Galileo? How do you see the similarities, synergies and areas of distinction between your ongoing role for Galileo and the new role for Copernicus?

It is within EUSPA’s scope to forge synergies between the EU Space Programme components and therefore Copernicus. The synergies between EO services and GNSS services will help us develop a range of solutions for various business sectors but most importantly they allow us to respond to societal challenges such as preserving our ecosystem. Let’s look at maritime protection for example. Oceans produce over 50% of the oxygen we breathe and regulate the climate. They are vital for human and animal life which is why they require constant monitoring and protection. And that’s where the synergies of Copernicus and Galileo are essential. The high positioning accuracy offered by Galileo when combined with high-resolution imagery coming from the Copernicus Sentinel satellites can allow authorities to identify and reach an incident site easily such as an oil spill and thus, mitigate its negative impacts. Likewise, we can fight illegal fisheries. I see these synergies as a way to democratize the services from space and also to drive progress in EU space. There is a lot of potential to be explored.

  1. How does this mission relate to the European Commission DG DEFIS? Can you describe the governance of the agency and especially in relation to Copernicus?

Working together with the European Commission and more specifically DG DEFIS as programme manager, ESA, the Entrusted entities of Copernicus and the Member States,  EUSPA will be supporting the implemention of the the EU Space Programme regulation to the fullest. While the Commission remains the project manager of the EO programme, EUSPA is here to support its tasks and make sure Copernicus market share is increased the coming years. 

  1. There is some confusion concerning a second space agency in Europe, how do you perceive your future relationship with the European Space Agency?

EUSPA is an operational user-oriented EU Agency contributing to sustainable growth, security and safety of the European Union. We are aiming at fostering the market uptake of the different space components (Galileo, EGNOS, Copernicus and GOVSATCOM) and is thus linking space to user needs.

EUSPA and ESA are complementary bodies with different responsibilities and different nature. EUSPA is an EU Agency although ESA is not an EU body but an intergovernmental body.

We will continue to work with our partner ESA because they are an essential partner to implement the EUSP.

  1. The political decision has only just been taken, how have you been preparing the agency for this new role?

Indeed, the political decision was made official only weeks ago by the European Parliament. Knowing earlier on -from December’s political agreement- that this is the direction we are heading to, we had started devising our new EUSPA strategy at many levels to ensure a smooth transition to our new responsibilities. I am proud that our teams at the Prague HQ but also in, Paris (Galileo Security Monitoring Centre, GSMC), Madrid (GSMC, European GNSS Service Centre, GSC), Toulouse (EGNOS) and Noordwijk (Galileo Reference Centre) helped rollout a new agency in a tight deadline. It’s a result of great teamwork and contributions from all EUSPA departments.

  1. What will be the main elements of the programme which you will put in place?

Our role regarding Copernicus is to promote and ensure the commercial market uptake of Copernicus data.

Under the new Space Regulation, however, EUSPA’s mandate will now include:

  • increased responsibilities in Galileo and EGNOS, including enhanced management responsibilities for the operations and service provision;
  • the security accreditation of all the components of the EU Space Programme, the operation of the Galileo Security Monitoring Centre, together with operational security;
  • the coordination of the user-related aspects of European Union Governmental Satellite Communications (GOVSATCOM), in close collaboration with the Member States and other involved entities;
  • the development of downstream markets and fostering of innovation based on Galileo and EGNOS, and now including also Copernicus, leveraging funding mechanisms such as Fundamental Elements and Horizon Europe.

The European Commission (EC) may also decide to entrust the Agency with other tasks in the future.

  1. In your opinion, what will be the best mechanism to build a strong partnership with the EO services industry and how can EARSC help? / At the end of the interview, here is the opportunity for your final thoughts and how your activities could contribute to the future development of the EO geo-information service sector?

Knowledge and information about the EU Space Programme and the possibilities it offers are key to further reinforcing the EO downstream sector in Europe. As the agency’s scope has been enlarged, we will be looking forward to introduce ourselves to the EO industry and communities by participating in industry-relevant events as well as promoting EUSPA’s contribution to the commercialization of Copernicus through various online and offline channels. Already last year, during EU Space Week, we hosted a great number of EO companies in our virtual exhibition. I look forward to seeing these integration actions for EU Space grow.  

What’s more, to stimulate the market update of Copernicus, we will be establishing partnerships and continue initiatives like hackathons and innovations competitions. I am sure EARSC, as representative for remote sensing companies will give us great support in our new ventures.

Lastly, I would like to highlight the fact that the EU Space Programme was conceived with the core aim of benefitting the lives of Europeans. I understand that the knowhow of EO and GNSS is not equally spread across the Union members. This is one of the challenges we will overcome the coming years and we have the tools and talents to do so. By working closely with all the EU Member States, EUSPA will give SMEs, start-ups, innovators the means to make their first venture into the world of EO or satellite navigation.

Thank you for your contribution to the Interview and for sharing your thoughts and comments with the EOmag readers.