Industry and value chain

The GNSS value chain is composed of a downstream and upstream component. The upstream side is comprised of those entities that build the space infrastructure (satellites, ground segment) and provide a signal to users. The downstream component, on the other hand, supplies the products and services that use GNSS-based positioning and navigation as a significant enabler. These products and services encompass the entire value chain of GNSS-specific components, GNSS receivers, GNSS-enabled systems, GNSS-enabled software and added-value services.

The GNSS downstream value chain

The GNSS downstream utilises the upstream-provided infrastructure and signals within their components, applications and services. This downstream industry can be broken down into three broad classifications within the value chain:

  • Component manufacturers, including manufacturers of GNSS-specific components (e.g. GNSS chipsets and antennae), small GNSS receivers and integration-ready GNSS receivers (i.e. supplied to system integrators);
  • System integrators, integrating GNSS capability into larger systems such as vehicles;
  • Value-added service providers, whose services improve access and use of GNSS (e.g. GNSS-enabled software such as maps, added-value services, applications, telecoms and other such uses as location-related data downloads).

State of the market

The GNSS downstream industry is highly consolidated, especially at the component manufacturer level, which represents most of the industry’s core value. System integrators consist primarily of car manufacturers and smartphone vendors, for which GNSS represents only a small part of the total product offering.

EUSPA regularly analyses the GNSS value chain to estimate the proportion of the market held by companies in each world region. The list, with nearly 900 companies in each segment of the value chain for the 2017 edition, can be found here.

In its GNSS market report, EUSPA also reviews the state of the European downstream industry. According to the latest report, European companies account for 25.8 % of the global GNSS downstream market (2015), with substantial variation across the value chain and market segments. In particular, Europe is strong in the development of value-added applications, with innovation being driven by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups, among others.

One of the priorities of the EU is to strengthen its economic value and competitiveness by creating opportunities for SMEs and using their potential for innovation. The experience of European GNSS research and development (R&D) projects proves that SMEs are especially strong in applications for fleet management, vehicle tracking and recreation/tourism.

To further support the competitiveness of European SMEs, the EUSPA regularly provides financial support through a variety of funding programmes, including the Fundamental Elements and Horizon 2020 programme.

If you are looking for funding opportunities, please refer to the EUSPA opportunities section.

For more information about R&D, please visit the resources for start-ups section.

Updated: Aug 31, 2022