Reliable and flexible access to data was identified throughout the workshop as essential condition to build activities and business based on Copernicus (and other) data.
It was also mentioned that a major obstacle to the development of the downstream sector was the difficulty to access other, non- Copernicus data managed by public authorities (e.g. in situ data) in order to combine them with space-based data to offer products with added-value for the user. The view expressed was that the public sector has a role to play in removing this obstacle.
Predictability was identified as a major business enabler and, while markets will remain unpredictable to a certain degree, participants called upon the public sector to be very transparent on its plans and intentions in order to provide visibility to the private sector and enable private investments.
Shortage of skills was identified in several exchanges as a challenge to be addressed. Both private and public sectors have a role to play to address education and training of current and future developers and users.
Participants from industry of all sizes called upon the public sector to increasingly become a customer of EO services where the maturity of the industrial offer warrants this approach. Procurement approaches based on Service Level Agreements and incorporating anchor tenancy principles were proposed and discussed.
In the following, the main outcome of the individual breakout sessions is summarised:
Defining clear roles for the public and private sectors in the Copernicus value-chain
Creating the right business environment to enable growth – Key challenge: maximise socio-economic benefit through a greater and more fruitful involvement of the private sector.
The European Space Strategy should include a clear element related to an industrial policy that fosters market driven innovation and is based on trust in the free market economy.
In order to unleash the market forces, participants agreed on the need for a stable and clearly defined border between Copernicus services on one hand and downstream services provided by the private sector on a commercial basis on the other hand. This would become a key enabler for industry investment.
To achieve this, participants called for a clear, transparent and publicly visible Product Catalogue for the Copernicus Services that renders this border visible to all. It was also stated that a clear and transparent mechanism should be established to manage the evolution of the Copernicus services and to ensure that future evolutions do not replace products that are or could be delivered by the private sector. The mechanism would need to involve close dialogue between the European Commission, the requester of the new product/service and the private sector.
More generally, it was said that the public sector should be very transparent on its intentions (for instance on the commitment over time to deliver data) in order to give visibility to the private sector.
In the domain of publicly provided services, participants from industry stressed the need for EO-specific and innovative procurement processes; the public sector should focus on procuring services to be provided against service level agreements. Anchor tenancy- based agreements should be considered and the EU should lead in this respect.
Strong signals from industry were heard, calling on the public sector to spin-off the provision of mature elements of the Copernicus Services into the private sector in the medium term. Industry participants stressed that such an approach would improve their ability to compete on international markets.
Support to Start-ups and Incubators
Growing the private sector share of the EO market through support to entrepreneurial initiatives – Key challenge: identify, link up and create impact using the best existing support mechanisms in Europe.
Participants agreed that access to finance is a key element; it is stressed that supporting networks that can provide help and advice at the right junctions are just as important. It is indeed essential that start-ups can benefit from other forms of support (e.g. legal support, business development).
Support should be adapted to the maturity of the start-up. Support to new ideas could be developed via prizes (such as the Copernicus Masters) or AppCamps. Support to more advanced start-ups could be done through coaching and incubation.
Start-ups are seen as a prime opportunity to extend links to non-space sectors. Participants suggested that they should be particularly supported doing so.
Discussions identified a strong link to market oriented approaches that stimulate the development of start-ups. It was pointed out that larger companies in Europe could play a more proactive role as well.
Facilitating access to data and (EO) expertise was identified as a key enabler. This was linked to standards and interoperability.
Interoperability, notably between EO and non-EO data
Where are the issues and what mitigation opportunities exist or and in the making? Key challenge: rapidly enable the exploitation
of data from different sources without stifling innovation through rigid standards.
All participants agreed that interoperability is a key element to enable exploiting the potential of EO and non-EO data for economic, scientific and public use.
The Commission should play a supportive role and should go for a “so approach” with the objective that achieve an agreement between all relevant stakeholders on the use common set of standards that allow the interoperability of heterogeneous data from different sources.
It was highlighted that interoperability between EO and non-EO data requires looking beyond the question of formats and consider technical and legal aspects related to the information content. Regulatory issues related to data policy, privacy, provenance and trust were singled out as particularly important. Also: trust in Copernicus data and services could be improved through adherence to standards, certification and end-to-end transparent procedures.
The standards development process within the Open Geospatial Consortia (OGC) was highlighted as an example to move standardisation efficiently forward. A priority was put on the identification of European requirements without losing sight on the international level.
There was broad consensus that user-friendly access to data, independently from their source, is the key for the exploitation of their value. In this context the provision of related services that render EO and non-EO data easily available and usable to non- specialist users (e.g. SMEs and NGOs) was identified as an opportunity.
A sense of urgency clearly emerged during the discussions.
Internationalisation of mid- and downstream companies
Opportunities, recipes and priorities. Key-challenge: increase the probability of success of European companies in the export markets through Copernicus.
Participants from industry stress that selling services in export markets is significantly facilitated if similar services are already provided in Europe (or elsewhere) on an autonomous basis. Anchor tenancy based contracts with institutions such as the EU were seen as particularly valuable and the possibility of certifying services can be a facilitator.
It was stressed that the export user community may need to be heard when defining service volumes and observation scenarios. This should include the use of data relay approaches such as EDRS.
Data access is an important enabler, also beyond Europe. Continuity of data access services must be ensured in a sustainable fashion.
The importance of embedding Copernicus in the local environment of foreign countries is stressed as well as the key role of local partners. Africa and Latin America were singled out as particularly promising areas to expand into.
A coherent policy ranging from R&D to international cooperation is seen as a key factor for success. Participants particularly stressed the importance of rising awareness and building capacity at target export locations.
On the industrial side, cooperation between European and global industry is seen as an opportunity to increase probability of success.
Matching industry needs with Big Data / IT industry capabilities
A gap analysis looking at the most appropriate role for the Public sector between provision of Copernicus Data and Services and added-value service providers. Key-challenge: address the gap between EO user needs and current data access offerings through industrial services.
The EO added value service providers pointed to the lack of an efficient backbone for data access that they can build their business on. Operational services are needed, meaning that data must be available reliably and timely.
Data processing capabilities and user support services are essential elements of a service offering and should ideally be offered close to the data.
In response to this concern, the IT industry stresses that there is currently a lack of visibility on emerging business in this domain. This in turn leads to a lack of predictability of potential return on investment and thus prevents investments.
There is broad consensus that a public intervention is required to address this situation that is seen as a market failure.
Parties agree that in the long run the necessary services should become self-sustaining on the basis of growing business using EO/ Copernicus data. At that stage the need for public intervention would disappear.
Participants concede that technologies and solutions to address the needs exist. There is a consensus that more communication amongst Space and IT sectors is required. A strong and mutual call is issued for both parties to leave their comfort zone and engage in cooperation.
Many solutions can co-exist to offer choices to potential users. This competitive environment is generally seen as of benefit to innovation and business development.
It is reminded that customers need to be given the opportunity to build trust in order to feel comfortable doing business in a cloud environment. Issues such as IPR, security and (private) data protection in general must be addressed to achieve this.
Public procurement processes may need to be adapted to take full advantage of cloud offerings in a dynamic and competitive environment.
Supporting end users and boosting demand for EO enabled services
Key-challenge: increase the EO market share by bringing EO information into mainstream consumer applications as an added value element.
The discussions converged on the need to actively reach out to potential new user communities by ‘speaking their language’. The EO community is seen as too closed and should open up to other sectors in a more proactive fashion.
The EO community should get organised to engage power users as Copernicus “evangelists”.
Participants agree that the continuity of the Copernicus programme and hence the sustainability of related services is an extremely valuable argument that should be more actively used/broadcast.
There is consensus on the need for a state of the art data access and processing offering that allows crossing sectorial boundaries.
Discussions pointed to the need to build a link between end-users and the process of defining service volumes and observation scenarios.
Participants pointed to the capabilities of Copernicus derived services that appear to be exceeding the current regulatory requirements e.g. in the environmental domain. An opportunity was identified to improve the quality of life, safety and security of European Citizen by adapting regulation to exploit the full potential of Copernicus. This would then also stimulate the market for related services.
Rising awareness to the potential of EO applications is seen as a powerful tool. Efforts at national or regional level are seen as most effective. There was a strong call on all parties involved to invest in communication e.g. to publicise success.
There is a strong call for dedicated support mechanisms. Public procurements should focus on services and exploit opportunities to use anchor tenancy approaches. Innovative public procurement could in particular be a powerful instrument to stimulate the development of new markets.
The Copernicus World Alliance initiative was identified as a very good example how Europe can build on its strengths.
Industry calls for a competitive environment for the provision of services and reminds of the need to maintain a level playing field vis-à-vis public entities that are present in the market.
Developing specific financing instruments not only for supporting start-ups but also for supporting SME expansion might be relevant. While helping start-ups is important, stimulating SME growth is also crucial and can be a strong vector for growth.