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Brussels, Belgium, 16 October 2019

On the 20th of September 2019, the PARSEC Accelerator launched its first Open Call for applications,“Call for ideas” . The Accelerator invites all SMEs, start-ups and aspiring founders keen to develop Earth Observation[1]-based innovations for the Food, Energy or Environment sectors to apply. Applications should be submitted before the 20th of December 2019 at 17:00 CET. Winners of this Open Call will receive €10.000 equity-free funding and access the PARSEC Accelerator business ecosystem and support services. It is worth noting that they will also get a chance to compete for €100.000 and further support in the second Open Call.

1. Emmanuel, can you tell us more about the application process?

It is very easy! All you have to do is make a 3 minute video where you present:

  1. Your skills and experience
  2. Your idea for innovation on Food, Energy or Environment
  3. In which way your idea is addressing the issues or needs of the sector(s)

Simply put, tell us your idea and why you are qualified to make this idea a reality.

It is worth noting that you do not have to share your business solution, just upload the video and apply before 20th of December 2019 at 17:00 CET on the PARSEC platform.

2. What kind of activities can successful applicants expect to participate in?

Besides, the 10.000€ equity-free funding provided per beneficiary, the PARSEC activities where designed to address the key challenges entrepreneurs face when trying to convert their idea into a business such as gaining a competitive advantage, having their vision validated by experts or just finding the capital to launch the business or in their scale-up process.

In the first stage beneficiaries will network in a 3-day bootcamp, receive mentorship by the PARSEC team and other selected experts and receive tailor made coaching.

There will also be dedicated matchmaking events to enable them to form cross-border and cross-sectoral consortia. These activities will empower them with knowledge and capacity to see their visions transforming into solid business cases and help them to gain a competitive advantage.

3. Why do you ask applicants to be part of cross-sectoral and/or cross-border consortium?

We identified the key challenges for SMEs to scale up. One of them is finding clients outside of their home country. Therefore, having a cross-border partnership can really help small companies scale-up fast.

As for the cross-sectoral aspect, we believe that bringing together people with different backgrounds but who share the same ambition for innovation is an opportunity to develop mutually enriching partnerships and to reach new markets. These new teams, if they decide to apply for the Open Call 2, can be supported with  the 100.000 € funding and further business services.

I would like to take this opportunity to clarify that first stage beneficiaries will have to create a consortium but not necessarily with their competitors. They could use this as an opportunity to team up with their costumers or potential business partner.

4. Any tips for our readers that wish to apply?

Go for it! You have nothing to lose!

Regardless of your background or experience, if you have an innovative idea we want to hear it! Our goal is really to boost innovation and your business.

Just upload your 3 minute video and apply before 20th of December 2019 at 17:00 CET on the PARSEC platform. Find useful tips here.


More information about the PARSEC Accelerator Open Call 1 application can be found on the attached overview or our website: www.parsec-accelerator.eu.

For questions you can read our FAQs or contact us directly at info@parsec-accelerator.com.

EARSC – the leading business network representing companies creating EO-based value across Europe – has partnered with leading clusters (AVAESEN, bwcon), accelerator experts (BIOSENSE), and innovative SMEs (Rasdaman, Geomatrix, DRAXIS, Eversis, Evenflow) to bring the PARSEC vision to life.

Join us

Website & sign-up for e-mail alerts: parsec-accelerator.eu

Twitter: @PARSEC_EU

Facebook: @PARSEC.Accelerator

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[1] Earth Observation is the collection, analysis and presentation of information about various features of the Earth via remote sensing technologies such as satellites.

Can you tell us about the Group on Earth Observations (GEO)?

The Group on Earth Observations is an intergovernmental partnership working together to improve the availability, access and use of Earth observations (EO) for a sustainable planet.

GEO is made up of 105 member governments including the European Commission, and a global GEO community that brings hundreds of the world’s leading Earth observation organizations together including practitioners, policy makers and decision makers.

Our vision is a future where decisions and actions are informed by coordinated, comprehensive and sustained Earth observations.

We know that open data can help to drive better social, economic and environmental policies. That’s why GEO is focused on open EO data to help support three global policy frameworks, including the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Climate Agreement.

Through the GEO Work Programme of over 70 unique and sustained activities, GEO supports decision makers with data and knowledge derived from Earth observations. We encourage broader participation from nations, with support from international organizations, the private sector, research and academia, and individuals to help scale up the impacts of the GEO community.

How does GEO work with and engage the commercial sector?

GEO welcomes engagement from the commercial sector in support of its mission and vision.

Commercial products and services based on Earth observations provide important public and private benefits, they foster scientific and technological innovation and spur economic development.

In turn, the GEO community provides an opportunity to connect with and learn from its expansive Earth observation expert and user communities, including thousands of practitioners, policy makers and decision makers worldwide.

Earlier this year, GEO announced a new GEO Associates Category as the way for commercial and non-governmental, not-for-profit and civil society organizations to join governments and international organizations as official collaborators of GEO.

Avenues of engagement include participation in and sponsorship of GEO events, contributions to the GEO Work Programme and providing open data or free software and services to the GEO community; paid software and services is a direct discussion between commercial sector organisations and GEO community members.

Commercial sector organisations may wish to work with the GEO community around the world and as such, there are regional GEO entities working on the global Earth observation topics, including AfriGEO, AmeriGEO, AOGEO and EuroGEO. 

At the upcoming GEO Week in Canberra, Australia, a new approach has been designed specifically for the commercial sector, called  the Industry Track. It is a key opportunity to engage the commercial sector to help drive the development of sustainable commercial Earth observation solutions and products to a number of Ministers at the GEO Week Ministerial Summit and the global GEO Community.

The inclusion of a dedicated Industry Track this year is recognition by the broader GEO community that not only can the commercial sector support the work of GEO, but that GEO needs to be more proactive in creating opportunities for the commercial sector to piggyback off the work of governments to create new products and services.

What can European EO companies learn from other EO companies in other regions of the world?

One of the many strengths of GEO is the co-creation of locally relevant solutions. Through the work of our four Regional GEO initiatives (AfriGEO, AmeriGEO, AOGEO and EuroGEO) the GEO community works to ensure that solutions and programmes are adapted to a diverse range of local and regional contexts.

Through engagement with the GEO Work Programme, European EO companies can help to develop and implement projects, leveraging the expertise of over 125 Participating Organizations, 105 GEO Members  and numerous research institutions and commercial sector contributors from around the globe.

For example, European companies are engaged in the work of the GEO Capacity Building in North Africa, Middle East, Balkans, Black Sea (GEO-CRADLE) programme.  Through the GEO-CRADLE Networking Platform, Earth observation communities can discover stakeholders of interest by location, thematic area and view their profile and data. Currently it hosts information for 29 countries with 268 online profiles featured.  This initiative is strongly motivated by the need to capitalise, sustain and scale up the results of communities that are working in the region.

In addition, GEO-CRADLE manages the Regional Data Hub (RDH) to provide access to region-related datasets, portals and services developed by a regional network of raw data providers, intermediate users/service providers, end-users from Industry, and Academic and Public Sector from the Region of Interest. The Regional Data Hub is the focal node in the region in the context of GEOSS and Copernicus implementation.

The next GEO Week will be in Canberra,  Australia from 4-9 November 2019. Why should European EO companies join this event?

GEO Week is one of the world’s largest gatherings of the global Earth observation community.

From 4-9 November 2019, Ministers from GEO’s 105 member governments, business leaders, heads of international organizations and leading experts will meet in Canberra, Australia for GEO Week 2019 and the GEO Ministerial Summit.

As mentioned, the upcoming GEO Week 2019 will include a dedicated Industry Track for the world’s leading tech, space and geospatial companies to come together with businesses that need Earth observation-enabled digital products. A series of events worth attending in its own right, the track will enable businesses to promote their capabilities, to network and create new partnerships, and to make deals and announcements.

Led by the Australian Space Agency, with support Australia’s national science and technology agency CSIRO, the Industry Track will include the GEO Week Exhibition, networking events, pitch sessions and the facilitation of bilateral meetings.

European EO companies are invited to share experiences and learn from others as we explore how investments in Earth observation can deliver major returns on investment to our economies and communities.

We’ll be discussing a wide range of issues, including the future of work, trade in digital services, privacy in a big data world, and the sharing economy. We’ll also be providing a platform to highlight European Earth observation capabilities and announce new actions and investments. This is an unparalleled chance to make new connections and partnerships with the global EO community.

Replies from Fabrizio Mura on behalf of the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation

Questions :

  1. Give a small summary of your organisation’s mission

A: The EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation is a joint venture established in 1987 by the European Commission (DG GROW) and the Japanese Government (METI) for promoting all forms of industrial, trade and investment cooperation between the EU and Japan. It is jointly funded and managed by both sides. It has its head office in Tokyo and an office in Brussels.

  • Why is Japan an attractive market for European EO companies?

A: While Japan has an advanced and competitive EO space infrastructure and is home to a large and sophisticated end-user market, opportunities exist in a number of – sometimes untapped - downstream markets including services for agriculture & forestry, fisheries, maritime vessel monitoring and drones. Furthermore, because of the relatively smaller experience in the internationalization of Japan’s EO programme, we see chances for joint cooperation in third countries such as Africa, Latin America and South-East Asia. We also see possibilities for joint innovation and R&D cooperation under future EU and/or Japan framework programmes.

  • You offer a lot of tools to help European companies access the Japanese market, is there one tool that you recommend more for Europeans EO companies?

A: for EU SMEs interested in Japan, consider using our Enterprise Europe Network Japan partner search service (start from: https://www.een-japan.eu/), in combination with our Cluster Support Mission on ICT / IoT, which will take place between 19 and 22 November this year around a major Japanese trade fair called Embedded and IoT Technology 2019 (more details + application form available at: https://www.eu-japan.eu/events/ict-cluster-sme-mission ).

  • During the IDEEO workshop you spoke about different events you are currently organising, can you talk about them a bit more and what are the opportunities/activities for European companies? Why should a company join?

A: there are 2 benefits of participating in our Cluster Support Missions: 1) we help you to open doors in Japan by giving you access to matchmaking events which we organize onsite in combination with networking / pitching opportunities; 2) after each Mission, we follow-up from Japan in order to support your goal towards finding partners.

Chetan Pradhan, Chairman of the Board of EARSC, spoke to SciTech Europa about the Earth Observation industry in Europe today and how it is developing.

The European Association of Remote Sensing Companies (EARSC) is the European organisation which – on a non-profit basis – promotes the use of Earth Observation (EO) technology and especially the companies in Europe which offer EO-related products and services. It is the industry body which represents the EO geo-information services sector in Europe, and its members cover the full EO services value chain including commercial operators of EO satellites, resellers of data, value-adding companies, geospatial information suppliers, consultancies and software providers.

The Association maintains close links with key European Institutions, including the European Commission, European Parliament, European Environment Agency and other agencies, as well as global bodies such as GEO (Group on Earth Observations), providing a unified voice on wider European and global issues of importance to the industrial sector.

EARSC also maintains connections with a number of other umbrella organisations at European and National levels. It works with Eurogi (as an observer member), Eurisy, Eurospace, NEREUS in Brussels, Belgium, and with National Associations where they exist.

SciTech Europa Quarterly spoke to Chetan Pradhan, Chairman of EARSC’s board of directors, about the EO industry in Europe today and how it is developing.

What do you feel have been the biggest developments in the EO sector in Europe in recent years?

There are many, but I would particularly highlight three things here:
• The EU Copernicus programme
• The impact of advances in the information technology sector
• The rise of commercial Earth Observation initiatives.

Regarding Copernicus, there is no denying the substantial impact this programme has had on the EO sector in Europe, with the investment of €4.3bn of EU funding in the period 2014-2020, the successful deployment of a constellation of operational Sentinel satellites, the free and open data policy, and the comprehensive programme of downstream services. These have really enabled the EO services sector to step up a gear to develop and deliver a range of new products and services to public and private sector customers both within Europe and outside of it.

Advances in Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) have also had a huge impact. Whereas in the past it took days or weeks to access the latest Earth Observation data, today it is available in hours or minutes thanks to high bandwidth links and cloud computing, which also enable the data to be processed into information products and delivered to end-users and customers equally fast.

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are enabling our sector to derive ever-more sophisticated insights and analytics from EO data, and to combine it with novel data feeds from in-situ sensors and even unstructured data sources such as social media feeds, news channels, mobile devices and crowdsourcing. The range of applications and services that could be developed using this rich mix of information sources is very exciting indeed and we are watching this closely.

Thirdly, we are seeing increasing interest in commercial Earth Observation initiatives around the world, including here in Europe. Reduced build and launch costs and using ‘off the shelf’ commercial technologies such as those from digital cameras and mobile phones to reduce the size and weight of the satellites are leading to commercial interest in building and launching constellations of small, inexpensive satellites that can provide higher temporal and spatial coverage than the large institutional satellites. These satellites are enabling access to novel data types such as small radar constellations, video from space, or small hyperspectral missions.

Of course, underpinning all this excitement in Europe is the fact that our sector continues to rely upon the solid foundation that has been built up over many years through Earth Observation programmes at the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Meteorological Satellite Agency (EUMETSAT), and the Horizon 2020 Space Programme and its precursor FP6/FP7 programmes. Without these, we would not have been well positioned to take advantage of the developments outlined above.

How important is maintaining links with key European Institutions (the European Commission, ESA, Eumetsat, etc.)? How do you ensure that relevant policy information is communicated to industry?

Of course, this is vitally important. The Earth Observation services sector in Europe would not be where it is today without the institutional programmes – Europe has invested significantly in the development of the sector, notably through the EC-ESA Copernicus programme, the ESA ‘Earth Explorer’ science programme, the Eumetsat meteorological satellite programme, and the Horizon 2020 Space programme. All of these programmes have helped industry develop technologies and capabilities, both upstream and downstream, that have led to spin-off commercial success for the sector, in Europe and in export markets. In addition to being a key sponsor, the public sector is also the largest customer for Earth Observation-derived services in Europe – we estimate that 65% of the market for such services is governmental, of which 50% is for government as customer, and 15% is for R&D. The remaining 35% is commercial.

To communicate effectively with our members, EARSC has a range of instruments. Firstly, there is the eoMAG, our quarterly online publication which has over 3,000 subscribers and features news and announcements of significant events and developments in the sector, including from our members and from the European institutions. Secondly, we maintain a comprehensive online portal, in which our members can find all sorts of relevant information, news and announcements – for example, all the latest invitations to tender from ESA, EC, EUMETSAT and others are all routinely listed here for the benefit of our members. Finally, there is our monthly report which provides our members with up-to-date information on events, meetings and EARSC project activities.

In addition, EARSC routinely publishes position papers reacting to key policy information coming from the key European Institutions to make the industry views and perspective known to these institutions. Our feedback and published papers have often been instrumental in bringing about shifts in policy that have made conditions better for industry.

At the national level, how would you characterise the implementation – or lack thereof – of national associations in the field of EO? How do you ensure that the industry is adequately represented when they are absent?

This does tend to vary greatly from country to country. In some countries we see dedicated and thriving national associations, like the British Association of Remote Sensing Companies (BARSC) in the UK, which has over 30 member companies, whilst in other countries there is really no equivalent. For EARSC, the focus is on being inclusive to industry from all across Europe – we currently have 102 members, spread across 23 European countries and Canada (which we include because Canada also participates in ESA EO programmes).

We therefore do not see the absence of remote sensing national associations as a particular hindrance – we serve European remote sensing industry best by representing the industry at European level, working to find consensus amongst our members even in cases where national priorities and ambitions may be different. The European institutions also find it extremely efficient to be able to engage with a single association that represents the interests of the European remote sensing and Earth Observation industry, rather than having to engage with 27 or 28 individual national trade associations.

EARSC is calling for stronger partnership between the Earth Observation industry and public sector institutions in Europe to build a better future together. What will this entail?

The key word here is ‘partnership’! There is already a very strong relationship between the EO industry and the public sector in Europe, of course, but we would like to build further upon this in order to ensure that the benefits of Europe’s substantial investment in Copernicus are realised in Europe. We see four key elements to this:

• Firstly, we need clarity of the roles of the public and private sectors so as to enable industry to invest in developing new services with confidence that the same service won’t be offered for free by a public institution in future.
• Secondly, we would like industry views to be factored in at an early stage in policy and programmatic decisions. This will help to ensure that new systems and services are conceived in a way that maximises the future commercialisation potential.
• Thirdly, we encourage the public sector to move away from investing in infrastructure and move increasingly towards procuring services from industry, especially in areas where there is a proven commercial capability and market.
• Finally, we call upon the public sector to provide adequate support to the transition of the latest cutting edge R&D from European institutions in order to develop successful demonstrations and to then go on to commercial exploitation.

Accessing markets outside the EU is crucial for jobs and growth within the sector. How difficult is this, and how is EARSC helping European industry to access these markets?

It is certainly difficult for European companies to do this. In 2016, the sector revenue in Europe was over €1.2bn, giving work to 7,700 highly skilled employees. However, the sector is dominated by SMEs, with over 95% of the companies having fewer than 50 persons and over 60% having fewer than 10 persons employed. Small companies do not have the resources and bandwidth to conduct extensive exploration of export markets on their own, and EARSC sees this as a key area in which it can support its members.
We have a dedicated member of the EARSC team assigned to manage our ‘internationalisation’ agenda, which is precisely about helping our members to access markets outside of Europe.

We have organised several trade missions for EARSC members to engage with potential customers and other stakeholders in export markets, the most recent ones being to Australia in March 2018, Japan in September 2017, and Chile in September 2017. We have entered into bilateral agreements to foster co-operation and facilitate dialogue, notably with Japan Space Systems, with the EuroChile business foundation, and with the African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment.

Moving forwards, what will EARSC’s main priorities be?

We will certainly continue to develop on all the fronts I have already mentioned – communications, partnerships, internationalisation, and creating opportunities for our sector to grow and flourish. One exciting development I have not mentioned yet is the eoMALL, which is EARSC’s initiative to create an online marketplace for European EO services – we are in the advanced stages of developing this and hope to have a first version going live before the end of 2018.

We will also continue to focus on growth of membership of the association, to make ourselves even more representative of the overall sector in Europe; and to focus on continued engagement with the European institutions so as to bring about relevant changes in policy to ensure the conditions for private sector industry in European remote sensing and EO programmes are suited to delivering continued economic growth and associated benefits back to Europe.

All of these activities need to be adequately resourced and I can envisage the secretariat of EARSC continuing to grow in the coming years to increase its capacity to take on a steadily increasing workload for the benefit of the EO and remote sensing services sector in Europe.

Source

We had the pleasure of interviewing German MEP Constanze Krehl , S&D Shadow Rapporteur for EU Space Budget to take a closer look at the proposal. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms.Krehl for her time and her work on this proposal.

1. Last year you were the rapporteur for the Space strategy, and you recommended « further development of Galileo and Copernicus to benefit downstream economy” Do you think this EU space budget allows for this?

The space budget as proposed by the European Commission is designed to ensure the continuity of the successful space programmes as well as their evolution. The Commission is right to make this a priority, because the uptake and use of Galileo and Copernicus already generates significant economic added value, which benefits the citizens, and the programmes’ potential is huge.

2. Rapporteur Salini stated that he would support the increase of the overall budget from €16 billion to €16.7 billion in support of the GovSatCom’s project and the development of the space security program (SSA) well-known as new security components. Do you share his opinion?

I strongly believe in the usefulness of SSA – and SST in particular as it serves to protect EU space infrastructure from space debris. Any collision with space debris could lead to the loss of billions that the EU has invested in the space programmes. It is quite doubtful, however, if the proposed allocation of 0,5 bn to SSA and Govsatcom would be sufficient to develop both programmes in a meaningful way. And although I agree with Mr Salini that a higher overall budget for space is desirable, I am not convinced that it is achievable in the current overall budgetary situation and am therefore proposing to cut the Govsatcom component to allow for greater flexibility within the budget proposed by the European Commission.

3. Earth Observation is recognized as a very effective way for the European Commission to meet various information needs in line with its executive responsibilities. We see that some policies do use Earth Observation technologies, such as the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy), but the majority, like the water frame work directive do not fully exploit it. What could be done to solve this problem?

The European Parliament has repeatedly called on the European Commission to ‘space-proof’ legislation. In its 2017 Own-Initiative Report on the space strategy, the European Parliament explicitly asked the European Commission to carry out a systematic space check before it tables new proposals – and to remove any barriers to the use of space technologies by the public sector. Doing this would finally ensure that the EU space programmes and their manifold possibilities are put to the best use in the public sector.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Dutch MEP Caroline Nagtegaal, ALDE Shadow Rapporteur for EU Space Budget to take a closer look at the proposal. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Nagtegaal for her time and her work on this proposal.

1. As the ALDE Shadow Rapporteur for the EU Space Budget are you satisfied with the Commission’s proposal?

“Yes, I am satisfied with the Commission’s proposal. It brings together the different existing and new space initiatives of the European Union. I do share the Commission’s assessment that the programme has a significant potential to stimulate innovation, safety, economic activities in the downstream sectors and help us further digitalise our economy. Moreover, it should improve our climate change monitoring capabilities which is an element of the proposal that I warmly welcome. These are all subjects where I believe Europe, and this space package, have a clear added value. At the same time, some member states have expressed scepticism about certain aspects of the proposal. But as far as I am concerned the Commission’s initiative also offers great opportunities for streamlining the current programmes and creating synergies.”

2. You have always been a strong supporter of SME’s. SME’s, especially in our sector (Earth Observation), can find hard to access the EU Space Budget. In your opinion, what could be done to rectify this?

“I believe that awareness is one of the most important aspect here. A lot of the time SME’s don’t even know about all the opportunities they have or if there is a call open. And also simplification of processes and applications is a continuous undertaking.”

3. You have advocated in past for cooperation between EU budgets but not overlapping work and knowledge exchange. Now that the Common Agricultural Policy has authorised satellite data to replace on-farm checks and that other DG’s will certainly use in the future more satellite data, what would be the best practices of this cooperation?

“Best practice would definitely be the knowledge exchange between different DG’s and creating awareness about the free availability of many space data for SME’s and entrepreneurs. With those data, they can build new and innovative products.”

4. You are the vice-president of the Delegation for relations with India. India, like some other non-European country, have signed a Cooperation Arrangement to access satellite Copernicus data. These types of agreement are a good example of the EU helping Earth Observation companies internationalise. What other best practises could the EU do to help Earth Observation companies compete on an international level?

“This market is very complex and it takes years of large investments and technological innovation to have fully developed market actors. I am certain that the EU as well as Member States should continue to develop and support our capacities in this field, among other measures by directly stimulating innovation and the latest technology, which present the only viable means to ensure that we are genuinely competitive. The Netherlands, for example, is leading in the fields of optics and optomechatronics. This allows us to contribute to Earth Observation missions under the Copernicus programme (through the development of the Tropomi instrument). Besides that, in the Netherlands we also have an SME called ISIS (Innovative Solutions In Space) that captures the opportunity of easier access to space. More companies and especially SMEs should be able to do so. Furthermore, the Union as a block has a significant leverage when negotiating trade agreements and establishing institutional and academic links with third countries, which should also be utilized. Nevertheless, it is evident that both public and private sectors need to mobilize more investments if we want to compete successfully with the US, Russia and China in the long run.”

5. The European Commission has stated that they are not proposing a new space Agency in Europe, but just a rebranding of European GNSS Agency to reflect the changes proposed by the draft regulation. In practice this appears to maintain the existing GSA role for GNSS and to introduce a new role to oversee security aspects for the whole space programme. Do you support this proposal?

“I think security is one of the main objectives of the European Union, so it is a good thing to overlook and control the security aspects for the space programme. However, we need to keep a close eye on how the Agency will relate to ESA. I believe that efficiency in the implementation of the programs can be achieved by giving responsibility and freedom to the implementing organizations such as the Agency and ESA (a division between policy and implementation). This prevents duplication. For program components, it is important to define the role of Commission, Agency, member states and other players in order to achieve optimal European added value.”

The Eurochile Business Foundation was jointly established by the Chilean state and the European Union in 1993. It was created by Chilean law which, apart from defining its fields of action, gave it certain permanent benefits.

Its objective is to promote and strengthen economic and industrial cooperation and technology transfer between the European Union and Chile. Its main method of work is through lines and projects to increase the capacity of management, innovation, staff training, production and marketing of national companies. All of this has a primary focus on promoting SMEs on order to enhance its competitiveness, productivity, and internationalization.

You are dedicated to promoting economic, trade and technological cooperation between the private sector and institutions in Chile and the European Union. What have been so far your greatest achievements and challenges?

Throughout its 24 years of experience, Eurochile has benefited more than 35,000 SMEs (24,142 Chilean/12,543 EU) through projects financed both by the EU and national entities. Eurochile’s achievements include: Participation of 3,743 Chilean SMEs in 216 business/ technology rounds; 24,142 SMEs benefited from 251 capacity building projects; 320 European experts brought to Chile; 4,320 SMEs benefited from 96 projects with European experts to support productive improvements; and 247 technology transfer initiatives. Eurochile has the technical capacity to carry out these activities and it offers a wide network of contacts through its projects, agreements, EEN network, and training sessions.

Eurochile has a large network of collaboration agreements with entities such as ministries, universities, technology centres, business organisations, etc., both in Chile and in Europe. This allows us to liaise with experts to contribute with technical training, identify success stories, best practices with regards to services and technologies developed, etc.

It should be noted that Eurochile has a professional staff that is multi-lingual and therefore can easily translate the relevant information from the official working languages of the EU into Spanish to ensure greater dissemination and support. In addition, we are pleased to announce that at the beginning of next year a Eurochile business centre will be inaugurated next door to our offices that aims to offer office spaces and business services to SMEs and European start-ups (including Chileans with EU ties).

What is the current state of the Chilean EO industry?

There is still a lot of room to grow in Chile in particular with regards to the use of EO that goes beyond the “usual suspects” (government authorities) and should be expanded more to the private sector and SMEs.

In Chile, due to its clear skies in certain regions (extreme north and south) there are worldwide, high class, observatories already installed and there is continuous demand. For example, in August 2008, the government of Chile signed a contract with EADS Astrium SAS for the development of the SSOT system (Satellite for Earth Observation). The SSOT program also included the development and setting up of a ground control segment and image processing facilities enabling the satellites to be directly operated and controlled from Chile by the Chilean authorities. Among other important development was the signing of a collaboration agreement on Copernicus between the European Commission and the Government of Chile in March 2018.

Overall, Chile is already using a whole array of satellites given its geographical and meteorological conditions: meteorological satellites (e.g., Low Earth Orbital Satellite, Geostationary Earth Orbital Satellite); specialized centres (Meteorological Service of the Chilean Navy (SERVIMET); teledetection and sensors.

In which sector (agriculture, energy, security etc…) do you see the EO industry having a growing impact?

Important productive sectors in Chile that could be enhanced via the use of EO are, for example: forestry, agriculture, and renewable energies. Moreover, Chile is a country that suffers from natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, fires and volcanic eruptions where there is surely a great opportunity to create new solutions. The country also faces climate related challenges such as poor air quality in Santiago (and in some other cities) and there exists an expressed interest to strive for a development towards Smart Cities. Below some examples of areas that are of interest to develop in Chile:

• New advances in GPSS and InSAR to identify high geological risk areas (geohazards) such as: earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, glacier movements, etc.
• High quality Data dissemination Platforms (QA/QC) for the Public Policy in Disaster Risk Reduction (RRD) based on science and technological evidence.
• Forest Fires, lead by the Socio-natural Disaster Observatory.
• Operational Oceanography: Ocean Climate (e.g. el Niño) and Ocean Weather Monitoring (e.g. storms)
• Air quality forecasting and diagnostics
• Land use change (urbanization trends, fire, etc.)
• Coastal zones
• Hydro-meteorological extremes
• Integration of Earth Data to biological data of the ocean
• Small deformations of the Earth, the potential of Copernicus and INSAR images

Eurochile is now a relay of Copernicus, how do you envision promoting it?

Since its creation, Eurochile has carried out various activities aimed at strengthening commercial links between Chilean and European companies, the transfer of technology and know-how, and the strengthening of public institutions with the aim of improving the business climate for SMEs. We have extensive experience in training and advising companies, and in organising conferences, seminars, events, and B2Bs. Our work plan to develop and manage the work of the Copernicus Relay is based on these pillars and supported by providing ample information on the Copernicus programme on our website, have available promotional and informational materials in our offices, and organize Webinars and conferences with European experts. We have good relations with regional governments, universities, and SME organisations and companies through our projects with European and national funds. These activities can be incorporated into current and future projects. The transversal priority is the incorporation of advanced innovation and technologies in SMEs and environmental care.

You also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop synergies and strengthen cooperation in business, research and technology between Chile and Europe in the utilisation of EO technology. Which element of cooperation in this MoU is the most important for you? What is the added value of such a MoU?

We are very pleased and moreover honoured to have the opportunity to have an MoU with such a prestigious association as EARSC. The primary objective of this MoU is to establish a formal cooperation initiative between both institutions to promote the use of EO technology, support companies in both regions that offer EO-related products and services, and in general promote economic, trade, and technological cooperation through business promotion, and the transfer of technology and know-how.

All the concrete objectives outlined in the MoU are of priority, such as offering and expanding support in connecting European companies with Chilean companies with the aim of incentivising new business opportunities for companies, transfer of technology and innovation, and other collaboration mechanisms. We aim to support each other in the organization of visits to each other’s countries/regions, jointly apply to project funding that would allow us to provide more visibility to the Copernicus programme and the vast European expertise, and regularly exchange information, transfer of experiences and best practices, among others.

EARSC has a valuable base of members, and the experiences of the companies and the association is a valuable asset and contribution to what Eurochile as a Relay wants to accomplish in Chile. We know that there exists an increasingly growing interest in working with Chile, for example within the framework of different cluster platforms. We think that the excellent collaboration already established between our entities is a powerful tool to explore further areas of work in promoting greater use of Copernicus that can in turn help companies to grow in productivity and competitiveness, particularly in sector of importance in Chile like agriculture, mining, energy, forestry, and overall measures to achieve a circular economy.

What are Eurochile’s future goals?

Eurochile strives to continue its legacy of fulfilling its mission of promoting SME internationalization, trade and technological cooperation between the private sector and institutions in Chile and the EU, through business promotion, and the transfer of technology and know-how. We strive to do this by continuously applying to national and European funds and expanding are large network of collaborators in the EU – which include entities from think-tanks, academics, centres of excellence, chambers of commerce, among others. It is important for our Foundation to support SMEs particularly in areas of growing relevance such as the challenges that come with climate change and the shift to a more circular economy and strategies to adapt to the fourth industrial revolution and with that the promotion of advance technologies, sound labour policies, and social cohesion.

Short Biography

Vicente Caruz

President of Eurochile Foundation. In addition, he is director of Desarrollo y Redes and a member of Sociedad de Inversiones Norte Sur and has held several positions in the financial sector. He was also a faculty member of the universities of Chile and Católica de Chile (1965-1985), and member of the boards of several institutions, including the Institute of Engineers.

About the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI)
CRCSI is an international research and development centre set up in 2003 under the Australian Government Business Cooperative Research Centres Programme. CRCSI conducts user-driven research in spatial information that addresses issues of national importance in Australia and New Zealand. There partners include government agencies, universities and over 50 companies.

Could you tell us a bit about the history of CRCSI?

The Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information, or CRCSI, is about 15 years old and was set up under the Cooperative Research Centres Programme of the Australian Commonwealth Government. CRCSI’s formation was initially conceived as a key recommendation from spatial information industry leaders. The government of the time had targetted the spatial industry for development and growth and a group representing the spatial industry saw a cooperative research centre as one key pillar to link industry, education and government. Since it commenced in July 2003 CRCSI has focussed on building critical mass in research initiatives between these three sectors to tackle major end-user driven challenges using spatial technologies. Our technical focus has traditionally been on data infrastructures, positioning and the extraction of information from data. The CRCSI continues to have a keen focus on earth observation and its application in areas of natural resource management, agriculture, built environment and construction, health and defence. We have conducted hundreds of research projects in every Australian jurisdiction and continue to focus on applied collaborative research development and innovation. We have developed strong international links through our partner base and have built a strong collaboration with New Zealand. The CRCSI is now an organisation truly spanning both countries.

You are dedicated to addressing market failures and supporting critical spatial infrastructure in Australia and New Zealand. What have been so far your greatest achievements and challenges?

We constantly face the challenge of addressing the changing needs of our partners and aligning our collaborative research with the rapid advances in technology. Transferring innovative research and proven concepts into operation is a significant challenge, so too is dealing with cross-jurisdictional issues, at least in the Australian and New Zealand context. In terms of achievements, we are very pleased with the improved collaboration between industry, government and the academic sectors coming from our activities of the past 15 years. We are also very proud of the success our partners have had as a result of further developing and implementing our research outcomes. To name but a few examples the CRCSI led the initial thinking and research of the: national positioning infrastructure and its development, this is now well underway; implementation of creative commons licencing and digital rights management; work on large-scale earth observation data processing, as well as the sea level rise methodologies, data sets and tools that have been created by our partners. We also take pride in the training of PhDs and post doctorate researchers, our strong scientific publication record in print and commercial success through licencing and the spinoff of several companies.

In the EO services sector, governments can have a strong influence over the way business develops. Aside from being a good customer, what’s the one other thing the Australian government can do to support the development of the sector?

Government can play a lead role in acting as a catalyst for innovation. Government also has a role to play in encouraging industry development through its procurement policies. There is presently a strong focus on policies and data infrastructures, which encourage and promote open data and access and will stimulate innovation both within government as well as across industry. One example is Digital Earth Australia, which is built upon the open data cube architecture and will soon be serving up a wide range of data and data products to both government and industry.

What are the main issues you consider may affect the evolution of the Australian market you are addressing and where do you see the greatest opportunities for growth?

The greatest opportunities for growth in the Australian EO market is in the use of its data by mainstream business as well as government. This will occur in combination with other data sources including other spatial data. It will impact beyond our traditional industry sectors. The Improved temporal and spatial resolution of EO data are only one of the enablers. The presence of enhanced storage, analytic and transfer capabilities of the cloud environments means the data is now more accessible than ever. The addition of new analytics capabilities, including machine learning, open the door for vastly improved predictive capabilities. Issues of accessibility and data being fit-for-purpose remain but are being progressively overcome.

Australia and the EU are currently cooperating to ensure data from Copernicus delivers economic, environmental and societal benefits. Can you give us an example of how this cooperation could impact the Australian EO industry?

The biggest effect is in increasing the quantity and quality of available data and this intrinsically means there is a large opportunity to develop applications for business. In particular, having Copernicus data in Australia is a game changer in terms of data availability and timeliness in relation to radar and optical imagery. The increased availability of public and private data offerings means that new applications can be built that were not possible before, there will also be the opportunity to enhance the value of existing products. I see a broader range of applications and products being developed over the next few years that will become a part of everyday life, much like mapping and positioning are now used on mobile devices in ways we never really thought about ten years ago. The fusion of EO data with other data sets is where I think the greatest potential lies.

You also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop synergies and strengthen cooperation in business, research and technology between Australia and Europe in the utilisation of EO technology. Which element of cooperation in this MoU is the most important for you? What is the added value of such a MoU?

Our interests are very much aligned in this MoU, which for me is extremely important. MoUs signal a mutual desire to work towards a common goal, and in this instance the pragmatic outcome will be initially the development of joint Horizon 2020 (H2020) earth observation applications. The key ingredients of success really do exist alongside this MoU, meaning there will be a very high likelihood of action. From our perspective these are (1) aligned needs in terms of maximising the benefits and applications from this fantastic infrastructure and data source (Copernicus), (2) evidence of existing collaboration through the Copernicus datahub, (3) a group of companies and organisations having the collective will to cooperate, (4) a joint funding mechanism from which to seed new applications development (H2020), (5) a growing industry, and lastly (6) resources in both Europe and Australia to facilitate it happening.

What are CRCSI’s and your future goals?

The CRCSI has reached a crossroads as our CRC programme funding winds up in June. However, our partner base wish for us to continue and we are working with them right now to deliver innovative collaborative user driven research across Australia and New Zealand. We are also taking this opportunity to improve our engagement model, refresh our research programs and align more closely with our partners’ strategies. Our new incarnation will be taking across a strong transitioning research portfolio as well as expanding into new areas of research.

Short Biography

Graeme is CEO of the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI) and was previously Deputy CEO where he was responsible for CRCSI operations, including finance, compliance, legals, corporate governance, business development and commercialisation.
Prior to the CRCSI, Graeme worked at RMIT University where he was charged with identifying technologies with potential for commercial exploitation and facilitating their transfer, primarily in biotechnology and information technology. He routinely negotiated commercial agreements, implemented commercial strategies with alliance partners and provided assistance in intellectual property management, project planning and route-to-market strategies.
Graeme has a PhD and Bachelor of Agricultural Science (1st Class Hons) from the University of Melbourne, a Masters of Business Administration from Deakin University, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Corporate Governance. He has successfully completed the Program for Leadership Development at Harvard Business School.

The Association of Geospatial Industries is a non-profit, non-Government, industry body, representing the common and collective interest of the Geospatial Industry in India. Geospatial Technologies encompass a wide range of technologies such as Remote Sensing, Surveying, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), Geographical Information System (GIS), Photogrammetry, Image Processing and other emerging technologies that assist the user in the collection, analysis and interpretation of spatial data with reference to geographic information.

Could you tell us a bit about the history of AGI; how your organisation started, what is your mission and how does it fit with other entities in India taking care of the industry sector which delivers commercial services based on Earth Observation (EO) data?

The Association of Geospatial Industries, or AGI, was founded through a series of consultation amongst leaders of select group of companies operating in the Indian geospatial market in 2008. The process of consultation was facilitated by Geospatial Media leveraging its relationship with major industry players. It took about two years to set up a formal mechanism, wherein a group of 10 companies, with presence across more than seven provinces of India, came forward to establish AGI as Non-for-Profit industry association. The primary purpose of AGI has been to pursue the common business objectives of geospatial industry in India. It began with creating awareness, building business development platforms, and undertaking policy advocacy. Right from its inception, AGI considered Earth Observation as an important component of larger geospatial information and technology, and satellite data and processing companies have been associated as partner in its journey right through.

Can you describe briefly the main activities of AGI its involvement with the Indian EO industry? What has been the greatest challenge encountered by your organisation?

As stated above, Earth Observation companies have been an integral part of AGI since its inception. In fact, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) invested significantly in scaling up EO applications, and several geospatial service companies found initial incubation through ISRO’s industry outreach program for data processing. Penetration and proliferation of remote sensing data and its societal applications offered the much-needed broader base for geospatial companies to move up the value chain. A major challenge encountered by AGI has been working around the regulated remote satellite data policy in the country. Though the policy has been evolving over the years, it is still more responsive in nature than enabling through open data network.

Contrasting India and Europe probably there are different approaches shaped by the different market conditions. How do the Indian EO data suppliers invest in new opportunities?

It would be difficult and inappropriate to draw a parallel between the European and Indian approaches towards developing EO market opportunities. However, I would like to emphasise that Indian entrepreneurs have been very innovative and agile in shaping vibrant EO and geospatial capabilities, serving not only Indian market but also offering its services and solutions to the world. In the absence of industrial incubation environment and lack of accessibility to quality data for decades, Indian entrepreneurs took very constructive and positive approaches in integrating geospatial and EO data, and developed locally relevant applications. In fact, I have no hesitation in saying that, Indian geospatial market integrated EO in its offerings much earlier than probably Europe. That’s why founding members of AGI had significant representation of EO companies.

In January 2018, AGI and EARSC signed a memorandum of understanding to develop synergies and strengthen cooperation in business, research and technology between India and Europe in the utilisation of EO technology. What are your expectations and how do you judge the first steps which have been taken?

I would like to congratulate the leadership of AGI and EARSC, who came together for developing institutional partnership between Europe and India. It is a very natural alliance, wherein members of AGI and EARSC could benefit from the expertise and market outreach of respective networks. Since AGI and EARSC both represent commercial companies associated with the EO industry, the first and foremost step could be to develop a network of engagement amongst its members. It would be worthwhile to put together a white paper outlining EO data infrastructure of Europe and India; cataloguing of expertise and capabilities available with members of AGI and EARSC; and identification of areas of collaboration.

In your opinion, what will be the best mechanism to build a strong partnership?
I believe the way forward would be developing Business to Business Platform between the members of EARSC and AGI, as well as facilitating Government to Government collaboration through the exchange of knowledge, practices and experience especially in the field of policy development and commercialisation.

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?

Democratisation, commercialisation and monetisation of EO industry is a very critical aspect of the new digital world. AGI And EARSC through their respective member networks could play a vital role in expanding value and impact of satellite data in larger geospatial market through integrated solutions and services.

Short Biography

As a social entrepreneur and Chief Executive at Geospatial Media and Communications, Sanjay Kumar has been working towards facilitating and accelerating growth of the geospatial industry worldwide and raising awareness of the industry’s value proposition and contribution to world’s economy and society.
Having co-founded Geospatial Media and Communications, Sanjay has been responsible for its transformation and evolution to be a leading geospatial media organisation making difference through geospatial knowledge and advocacy. Sanjay also co-founded Association of Geospatial Industries of India in 2008 and is on Board of Directors of Open Geospatial Consortium since 2011. He is the Chairman of United Nations GGIM – Private Sector Network, and Board Member of Radiant Earth Imagery for Impact.
Sanjay holds a Masters in Political Science and M. Phil. in International Studies from the University of Delhi.

Giovanni Sylos Labini, Chief Executive Officer of Planetek Italia

EARSC Company of the Year 2017

Planetek Italy is the winner of the fourth edition of the EARSC Company Award 2017. This is for the company recognised by both peers and international experts as having made the most significant contribution to the growth of the EO services sector in Europe, please tell us what this means for you and how the important the prize is for the Planetek Group?
Planetek actively supports EARSC since many years. We believe EARSC is a real authority in the EO scenario, and what makes a great association is the quality of the associates. EARSC represents the best of our industry all over the world and this makes the EARSC Company Award like an Oscar Prize within our industry, which obviously gives us enormous satisfaction!

Planetek Italia

Tell us a bit about the history of Planetek and how it has grown over the years?
In 1994 I founded Planetek with three young partners: Mariella Pappalepore, Vincenzo Barbieri and Sergio Samarelli. At that time, we were the only personnel of the company and our first year turnover was about 50,000 €. Nowdays, Planetek Group (including Planetek Hellas, founded in 2006) has over 60 highly skilled employees with a turnover that will exceed 6 million € this year.

When the company started in business, what specific idea, purpose or vision was the driving force?
The first motto of Planetek was “GIS & Remote Sensing” and the idea was to build a company focused on application design, meeting users’ needs more than following the technology push.

What has been the greatest challenge the company has encountered and how was it overcome?
At first, the greatest challenge was to explain to potential customers what our services were useful for. 23 years ago, the Internet was a new thing for tech gizmos only, and we were based in one of the most disadvantaged regions in Europe. In order to cope with these difficulties, we made strong investments in education and training of our potential customers. We also largely benefited from the Internet as a marketing communication tool and an easier and faster way to connect with our international partners.

Please tell us a bit more about what Planetek does? What are the key markets that you address?
Planetek is structured in 3 Strategic Business Units that are largely autonomous in their markets: Business to Business, Government and Security, Space Stream. This structure normally helps us in smoothing the single market cycles and in doing a serious cross-fertilization of user experiences within different markets.

What do you consider are the most important competences of Planetek that help you succeed?
Of course an obsessive user-focused approach in all our activities. I truly believe that if you ask anyone among our thousands of users and customers acquired over the last 23 years, you will easily find an overall positive impression about our services and products. We always do our best to intercept real users’ needs, rather than looking at the world through the distorted lenses of technology,

What do you see as the main challenges facing the company in the next 1-2 years?
We will continue carrying out our strategy of market diversification and growth, both geographically and in terms of applications. To accomplish this goal, we are taking advantage from the standardisation of our services and from the cloud as a way to boost marketing. Currently, we are within the greatest transition of our product focus: from geoinformation towards geoanalytics. We are well in the business and, in meantime, the IT big guys start being seriously interested in our industry. The challenge for Planetek is to balance the huge investment that IT big players are going to put in our industry with our experience on EO service design. The result of this strategy is our award-winning Rheticus® platform, which is based on our new business model.

Market Views

The quantity of data is exploding in every direction. Every individual, business and government is both generating data and consuming it. Data revolution has already started.

What are the main issues you consider may affect the evolution of the market you are addressing and where do you see the greatest opportunities for growth?
Thanks to EARSC, we are pushing more on a market development approach. At last, the EU Commission, ESA and Member States understood that in order to maintain EU autonomy and leadership in EO, they should implement a strong demand-oriented policy effort. Well, this could be a great chance for EO companies in EU, and we are ready to catch it.

Are there particular threats which you see for your business?
As already said, the EO services look central in order to exploit geoanalytics, but our industry is still small and disperse compared to the IT industry, so the risk is a commoditization of EO services that could erase our niche market.

At the moment, innovation seems to be on everyone’s list of things to promote, what is your perception of innovation in the EO services sector? How do you approach innovation within the Planetek group?
We are making huge investment in R&D, luckily supported by EU programs, ESA, ASI and so forth. Within Planetek, there is a specific internal team, the Design Lab, which takes care of the innovation agenda of our business units.

What is your vision about the democratisation of Earth Observation?
Well, if you mean an easier access of people to EO, this is obviously a benefit for our industry. It helps to build a strong opportunity towards emerging countries and towards potential consumer markets, hardly to be imagined a few years ago.

How you plan your vertically-integrated EO system (space base geospatial big data collection, processing, and information management system)?
At Planetek we think that the long-standing separation between Upstream and Downstream will not survive the technological revolution, so we are positioning Planetek in the design and development of space-stream services, exporting our capabilities in EO application service design in the space segment.

EO Service Development and Stakeholders

In the EO services sector, governments can have a strong influence over the way business develops. Aside from being a good customer, what’s the one other thing governments can do to support the development of the sector?
Like said by Marianna Mazzuccato (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariana_Mazzucato) in her book “The Entrepreneurial State”, Governments should not limit themselves in regulate market, but they have to make precise choices in order to “tilt” the playground in the direction they believe an entire new market can flourish: “EO and Space Services” is one of these for sure.

EARSC is the European trade association dealing with the geospatial services sector; what for you are the main benefits of EARSC membership?
Trade associations have a vital role in establishing relationships among Governments, People and Industry sectors. This is crucial in the EO industry, which is made by small and disperse companies. Moreover, this is a very single point shop for good ideas and cooperation with other subjects in the field.

What do consider is the main issue for EARSC to address today on behalf of the European EO services sector?
The challenge of establishing a true strong internal market for the private sector in EO.

Future

Finally, what can you say about your outlook for the sector and how companies in this sector should be positioning themselves?
Innovate: Capitalize on progress also in related technologies. Internationalize: address extra European markets. Implement non-organic growth strategies.