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SIAP, the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food – part of the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture (SAGARPA) – has signed a declaration of intent with the UK Space Agency to provide historic, statistical and satellite data to support Rezatec’s development of a crop yield optimisation tool for Mexican farmers and other supply chain stakeholders.

The Mexican COMPASS project is funded by the UK Space Agency under its International Partnership Programme (IPP) – a five-year, Pounds 152M initiative which is using the UK space sector’s research and innovation strengths to deliver a sustainable economic or societal benefit to developing economies around the world. The project is designed to utilise sophisticated geospatial data and Artificial Intelligence to help smallholder farmers growing sugar cane and wheat in Mexico to improve their crop yields.

The inclusion of SIAP in the project will enable the provision of new and valuable information relating to wheat and sugarcane background studies in Mexico, historical data, surveys, statistical information and access to future satellite data, all of which will help improve the project outputs for the farmers.

As part of IPP, Rezatec unveiled the latest version of its free mobile app, ‘COMPASS V1.6’, at the Global Agri Food Tech Forum in Puebla, Mexico in October 2018. The event, the largest of its kind in South America, was attended by 40,000 agricultural stakeholders – ranging from smallholder farmers to senior figures within the global agricultural supply-chain, as well as the Mexican President, Enrique Pena Niento.

The app, developed by Rezatec, will provide decision-support tools to help growers, including smallholders, improve their technical, environmental and financial performance, delivered via a smartphone interface so that it is accessible even in areas with no internet connectivity. The technology developed by the project will use Earth observation satellite data, along with field data captured by farmers, to help identify factors causing the yield gap between crop potential and actual field performance.

SIAP stated that they are delighted to be collaborating with Rezatec and the UK Space Agency on the COMPASS project to improve agricultural outcomes for Mexican farmers and other stakeholders in the supply chain.

Chris Castelli, Director of Programmes of the UK Space Agency said, “Collaboration is at the core of our International Partnership Programme. By working together, we are providing the tools necessary to stabilise workers’ incomes and support the economic development of their communities”.

Dr Andrew Carrel, Chief Technology Officer at Rezatec commented, “The inclusion of the SIAP in the project is going to be instrumental in the increasing value that we can provide the farmers to help optimise their crop yields and in turn create a positive impact on economic livelihoods”.

Version 1.6 of the app offers new functionality for wheat farmers advising them of the optimum sowing period and an irrigation schedule for a maximising yield. Following the launch, additional farmers have now signed up to the project with the help of AOASS, Mexico’s largest wheat farmers association, which has shown huge interest in supporting the farming community in using the application for the upcoming wheat season during December 2018.

The next stage of the project is to collaborate with other stakeholders in the supply chain, including crop insurers, wheat processors and irrigation bodies. For more information visit here.

Applications for this new European Master study programme now are invited until March 14

General info offered at and call details at and call details at Candidates can apply for full scholarships or as self-funded students. All admitted students will start with a year at University of Salzburg’s Z_GIS and then select either Université Bretagne Sud or the University of Olomouc for their second year.

We expect excellent students from an initial background in Geoinformatics and Earth Observation with an ambition to develop a strong focus on developing competences in GeoDataScience, Application Development, Communicating with Geomedia and through Geovisualization as well as Spatial Analytics and SDI.

Space has an invaluable role to play in the 5G ecosystem. Telecommunication satellites can extend, enhance, and provide reliability and security to 5G, helping to deliver its promise of global, ubiquitous connectivity. Other space assets, such as Earth Observation and Satellite Navigation can be integrated with 5G technology to deliver innovative applications in a number of vertical sectors. The European Space Agency (ESA) has joined forces with the Economic Board Groningen (EBG) to support the development of applications that integrate space and 5G. Find out more about this unique opportunity below.


Groningen, the Netherlands, is being transformed into the ultimate 5G testing ground. Managed by the EBG, entrepreneurs, non-profit organisations, and experts are being invited to test 5G applications in a dedicated initiative called 5Groningen. The 5G fieldlab is founded by some renowned telecom operators (KPN, Vodafone) and manufacturers (Ericsson, Huawei), together with research institutes like TNO and the Groningen university.

ESA Business Applications (BA) has partnered with 5Groningen to fund selected activities pursuing innovative space-based applications developments leveraging on the deployment of 5G networks. Organisations from member states (listed below) are invited to submit proposals for services that use 5G and satellite technologies. Chosen ideas will then be welcome to test their concept using 5Groningen field-lab and test areas in the Groningen region to pilot their idea and to receive funding from ESA.


Polar applications are not a new subject for discussion. Internationally, the subject has gained considerable attention from institutions such as the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) through its Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). The European Space Agency (ESA), from its side, touches upon the topic via its Climate Change Initiative (CCI) and Polaris. In 2016, the European Union even adopted an integrated EU Policy for the Arctic, aiming to contribute to a stable, safe, sustainable and prosperous Arctic.

For Copernicus, the Copernicus Polar and Snow Cover Applications User Requirements Workshop of 23 June 2016 welcomed a series of users, service providers, representatives from the scientific community, the European Commission, ESA, EUMETSAT and industry representatives, to gather a set of requirements to be fulfilled by the evolution of the Copernicus Space Component. This process was finalized by the work of the Polar Expert Group in Spring/Summer 2017, which has made an analysis providing a list of requirements and priorities, including the required space technologies to achieve this, in a series of two reports. These activities contribute to the general exercise in which the requirements for the evolution of the Copernicus Space Component are defined.

This workshop is an opportunity to present the roadmap of Copernicus in this area and to raise awareness concerning the defined offer of products and services for the industry and related stakeholders. The discussions will be based on the EU Arctic Policy, which identifies three policy areas:

1. Climate Change and Safeguarding the Arctic Environment (livelihoods of indigenous peoples, Arctic environment)

2. Sustainable Development in and around the Arctic (exploitation of natural resources e.g. fish, minerals, avoiding oil and gas spills), « Blue economy », safe and reliable navigation (NE Passage…)

3. International Cooperation on Arctic Issues (scientific research, EU and bilateral cooperation projects, fisheries management/ecosystems protection, commercial fishing)

Register here

now launching Round 3 of the Copernicus Incubation Programme that supports European entrepreneurs and start-ups. Winning start-ups will receive up to 50,000 EUR – equity free – for their project working with Copernicus data and services, whether it be the early incubation of a working product or in the phase leading up to launch. Some results from Round 2

Requirements and conditions

- Start-ups receive up to 50,000 EUR and up to 85% of the total costs described in their application to the programme.
- Co-funding is required for at least 15% of the total costs. Any co-funding source is eligible, such as business angels, subsidy programmes, investors, another incubation programme or the start-up itself- The funding covers costs up to 1 year.
- Selected start-ups receive 50% of the total grant as pre-financing.
- Lead time for the incubation support is approximately 4 weeks after the announcement of selection results.

Who can apply?

You are either a start-up or a team of entrepreneurs with a maximum of five years of operational history since the registration of your business. You may be at the early incubation stage or preparing for launch and scaling. Applicants should set up a company in in any EU28 country, Iceland or Norway before receiving any funding from the programme (but not necessarily before applying)

This programme is meant for joint applications – The start-up is required to apply together with a support programme that agrees to incubate the start-up if it receives the funding. The start-up remains the lead applicant and sole beneficiary of the funding.

The next submission deadline is 16th of November 2018.

Apply at

Let Copernicus Incubation boost your start-up!

Agriculture is a major driver of African economies. In recent years, climate change is increasingly affecting crop production in Sub-Saharan Africa, negatively impacting farmers livelihoods and hampering economy growth. The G4AW SUM Africa project is addressing this challenge by using satellite-based weather data to create a low-cost insurance product for smallholders in Mali and Uganda. With this insurance, farmers have a greater chance to obtain the credit they need to increase crop production and improve their livelihoods.

(© Netherlands Space Office/Photo by Makmende Media b.v.)
How does it work?

Agricultural index insurance products are linked to an index, such as temperature, rainfall, crop yield or evapotranspiration, rather than actual loss. Daily information from (meteorological) satellites, provides timely, independent and continuous monitoring of climatic and drought conditions for crop growth. This information is used by insurance companies for risk assessment, insurance pricing, and for pay-out calculation. Because insurance companies no longer need to visit the farmer to assess their loss and determine payout, transaction costs are much lower.

Synergy between insurance and credit

It is difficult for African smallholders to get a loan if their business is not cash-flow positive. Potential investors also demand a proven, reliable and scalable business model, making it harder for smallholders to emerge from poverty. Joost van der Woerd, SUM Africa Project Coordinator, explains: “Low-income farmers in Africa don’t have access to traditional indemnity-based agricultural insurance, putting their livelihoods at stake. Weather index insurance makes a great investment for farmers, as it helps them to increase yield sustainably.” With insurance, farmers are more likely to get a loan, enabling them to invest in new technologies that could continuously boost crop production.

The results

Since the programme started in 2014, SUM Africa has insured about 70,000 coffee farmers against weather-related losses in Uganda. It has proven more difficult to achieve the same level of uptake in Mali, due to lack of infrastructure and security issues. SUM Africa aims to enable 150,000 farmers in both countries to benefit from satellite-based index insurance by 2021.

Why zero hunger matters

The UN indicates that agriculture is the single largest employer in the world, providing livelihoods for 40 percent of today’s global population. As climate change intensifies, achieving food security will be even more difficult. Sum Africa was introduced to farmers through the Geodata for Agriculture and Water (G4AW) programme. It is one of 23 G4AW projects in 14 countries aiming to boost climate resilience of agricultural production systems. The G4AW programme is carried out by the Netherlands Space Office (NSO), and commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Fighting hunger with space technology

While GEO’s Global Agricultural Monitoring Initiative (GEOGLAM) uses Earth observations to provide actionable and open information on crop conditions as a means to improve food security and reduce food price volatility, G4AW services use Copernicus satellites and meteorological data to provide end-user focused (B2C) solutions that target smallholder farmers. G4AW aims to support widespread adoption of such technologies for achieving food security. Fulfilling their ambition requires actors across the value chain to open up new markets and enable scalable solutions around G4AW–like services. Visit to learn more about this programme.


From mitigating against climate change using satellites to facilitating research water and food scarcity, the UAE Space Agency is contributing to the realisation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the UNISPACE +50 Conference in Vienna heard.

A delegation led by Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, is taking part in the event, which marks 50 years since the first Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

Part of the UN 2030 Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals identify 17 objectives for improving human quality of life and ensuring environmental protection, including no poverty, zero hunger, quality education and climate action.

UAE Space Agency Director General Dr Mohammed Al Ahbabi in his address on space and the Sustainable Development Goals, said:

“The benefits of space exploration and utilisation are perhaps more wide-reaching than any other sector or industry, and our collective efforts in space are already responsible for introducing life-changing and indeed life-saving technologies.”

“We firmly believe that research and development around deep space exploration will directly lead to long-term solutions for many of the most pressing issues. Last year, the UAE revealed its most ambitious long-term plan to date – Mars 2117. This is our national objective to establish a human settlement on Mars over the next century, and it will require the research and development of advanced solutions to agriculture, clean water collection and energy supplies in an otherwise inhospitable environment,” he added.

Al Ahbabi addressed space sector solutions to some of the environmental goals: “Globally, earth observation and remote sensing applications of satellite technologies have highlighted issues related to life below water and life on land – both goals of the 2030 Agenda. For example, undergraduate students in the UAE are currently in the process of building a CubeSat that will monitor our coastal shores to identify algal blooms and determine necessary responses.”

The UNISPACE +50 sessions bring together policy-makers, business leaders and academic experts from the global space sector to discuss areas for collaboration, including developing and adopting resolutions that will guide policies and joint action frameworks for years to come.

During the build up to UNISPACE +50 two High Level Forums were held in the UAE. The forums resulted in the Dubai Declaration, a set of 20 principles signed by international space organizations in November 2016.

During a separate panel for heads of space agencies around the world, Al Ahbabi noted the need for international cooperation and collaboration in space affairs.

“We are firm believers in the notion that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and for this reason we have staunchly supported the UNISPACE +50 preparation process. The UAE was privileged to have hosted the High Level Forums in 2016 and 2017 that laid the foundations for the High-Level Segment this week and resulted in the adoption of the Dubai Declaration in late 2016.”

The role of space in education was also addressed, with Hamda Al Shehhi, a member of the Space Missions Department at the UAE Space Agency, taking part in a youth session during the event along with former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, where they discussed the empowerment of youth in the changing space environment.


The State Space Agency of Ukraine (SSAU) and the European Commission (EU) signed the Copernicus Cooperation Arrangement formalizing plans to develop cooperation under the Copernicus Earth observation programme.

The EU delegation to Ukraine said that under the Arrangement signed in line with the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and Eastern Partnership, SSAU would provide full, free and open access to space monitoring data from its Earth remote sensing satellites, as well as to geophysical and meteorological data of regional observatories to the Copernicus programme.

According to the document, it is planned to boost cooperation between SSAU, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) in the sphere of collection and use of data of space monitoring from European Sentinel satellites of the Copernicus programme.

Under the Arrangement, the sides would promote cooperation in processing space monitoring data for joint use in the following areas: long-term management of natural resources, monitoring of marine and coastal zones, water resources management, the impact of climate change and adaptation to them, disaster risk reduction, food security and rural development, and health management issues.

Each side will fund its own activities under the programme and adhere to the principle of ‘no exchange of funds.’ The National Center Of Space Facilities Control And Test would coordinate the programme in Ukraine.


A consultation document for Ireland’s Space Strategy for Enterprise was published yesterday by Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan.

The consultation document seeks input from stakeholders on issues to be considered in the development of Ireland’s Space Strategy for Enterprise. The strategy will set out how Ireland will maximise on its investment in space within the evolving global space market, which is expanding to present numerous opportunities for private industry and researchers. The consultation will be open for input until the 27th August 2018.

In recognising the expanding global space sector, Enterprise 2025, Ireland’s National Enterprise Policy, identified the space sector as a new area of opportunity for Ireland. Furthermore, the National Development Plan called out a New Space Technologies Programme as a Strategic Investment Priority, 2018–2027.

In order to seize the opportunities presented by the growing global space sector, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland are currently developing a strategy with the key objective, to develop a strong and sustainable space industry in Ireland and to optimise and grow the economic return from Ireland’s investment in space.

Ireland primarily invests in space through its membership of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Union space programmes, Copernicus, Galileo and also, Horizon 2020.

In recent years, the global space sector has been undergoing a major change, as the global space market has expanded from largely Government-driven projects to increased participation by private industry, often referred to as ‘NewSpace’. This trend is being driven by several factors, such as the increasing demand for communication services, location information and space-derived data.

‘New Space’ has opened up opportunities for private enterprises, research centres and entrepreneurs working in many sectors not traditionally associated with space, such as data analytics, software, data systems and advanced materials as well as the more obvious sectors, including electronics, opto-electronics, telecommunications geo-science and astrophysics.

With support from ESA, and also Enterprise Ireland, which supports Irish companies to successfully bid for ESA contracts, Irish industry are progressively establishing themselves in this sector and are increasingly winning contracts to develop technologies, products and services for the commercial space market.

Speaking about the consultation and strategy, Minister Halligan said, “On foot of the expanding space sector, the time is now ripe for Ireland to develop a Space Strategy for Enterprise. The strategy will set out how Ireland can maximise the benefit of its investment in space for industry, researchers, citizens and the wider economy. The consultation process will inform the final strategy and help determine what actions the Government can take to develop a strong and sustainable sector in Ireland.”

He added, “Companies involved in the space sector in Ireland increasingly come from a broad range of disciplines and include companies without a conventional space background. A growing number of Irish companies, including SMEs and start-up companies, are winning contracts with the European Space Agency. I would strongly encourage all companies to read the consultation paper and consider its relevance to them.”