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Editorial 57 | Spring 2019

Editiorial by Geoff Sawyer - Secretary General of EARSC

I am really pleased and proud to say that EARSC was awarded bronze place as the European Association of the year in the category for under 30 employees. This achievement is made even greater when we consider that we were entered in the category of “Association with less than 10 employees”, but mysteriously, the category was changed during the evaluations and we were beaten by two Associations with around 20 employees each. So really we are the golden European Association of the year (with under 10 employees)!

This achievement was based upon the change in business model of EARSC and the way we are able to offer more and better services to members as a result of winning a number of key projects. I mentioned 2 of these key projects in my last editorial in January which support the delivery of a new service from EARSC called “Research to Business”. These are now awarded and so I can tell you that they are eShape and PARSEC and both are aimed at supporting very young or formative companies to develop their business ideas.

The project eShape was previously called EuroGEOSS Showcases and has the goal to develop the European contribution to GEOSS. It is a large project with 55 partners and good luck to the co-ordinator (Armines) who have the heavy task to keep us all in line! The EARSC role as a work-package leader is focused on the market side and to help promote the 27 pilot showcases to European and International policy makers and to commercial business sectors. With our good partner Evenflow, we shall also put together a sustainability booster to give guidance to the pilots meeting needs for market, legal, financial or technical information and resources to develop the business concept.

We have also secured some funds to keep in reserve to “on-board” new pilots during the project. This is part of the planning to make the venture sustainable and to avoid starting the project with the 27 pilots and ending 4 years later with the same 27 pilots. At annual intervals, new proposals will be reviewed and a number will be selected to be brought into the project under the sustainability booster. It will be a challenge to manage and we look forward to getting going in early May.

We shall be co-ordinating the project PARSEC which hopefully will be more manageable with only 10 partners. Here the goal is even more direct and €2.5m - 50% of the budget - will be awarded to business ideas coming through a 2 stage filter. In the first round, 100 researchers or entrepreneurs will each receive €10k to take their idea further. The 100 will be selected by peer voting ie all the applicants (up to 300) will all vote on each others’ ideas with the top 100 going through to the second stage.

In the second round, the 100 winners will be supported with legal, technical and market advice and encouraged to team up with others with complementary capabilities. They will compete for 15 awards of €100k to develop their business idea. Further support measures will be available in the form of data and technical resources and it would be fantastic if all 15 businesses were to make it successfully to market.

These two projects are foundations of the programme which I refer to as “research to business”. We plan to guide the (young?) entrepreneurs along the path to success drawing upon the EO services ecosystem comprising the community managed by EARSC. I shall be happy to answer any questions about how to access either of these programmes and more news will follow as we start to organise webinars and workshops to promote these great opportunities.