Speaking at last week’s Copernicus Horizon 2035 conference, EUSPA Executive Director Rodrigo da Costa outlined how European businesses can benefit from Copernicus’ Earth observation services, data, and information.
If you’ve ever watched a news story about a natural disaster, chances are, the satellite images shown in the story came from Copernicus, Europe’s Earth Observation programme.
“Because Copernicus is the best Earth Observation system in the world,” said Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, who made his remarks at Copernicus Horizon 2035.
Organised by the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, the conference, which was held 16 – 17 February, put the spotlight on Copernicus, its achievements, goals and opportunities.
“By providing unique insights into the Earth and its environment, Copernicus helps governments, national agencies, institutions and researchers and of protect our planet for future generations,” said Rodrigo da Costa, Executive Director, European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA). ‘’But Copernicus is also of strategic importance to European SMEs, and we must ensure they make the most of the available date,’’ he concluded. Under the auspices of the European Commission, EUSPA is charged with promoting Copernicus’ services, data and market uptake.
The commercial potential of Copernicus
Beyond its use by governments and in emergency situations, Earth Observation also has significant commercial potential. For example, according to the latest edition of the EUSPA EO and GNSS Market Report, SMEs and start-ups account for more than 93% of European Earth Observation companies.
“Europe is seeing a vibrant Copernicus start-up scene unfolding, with hundreds of new ventures being created using Copernicus data and information,” noted Fiammetta Diani, EUSPA Head of Market, Downstream and Innovation, who also spoke at the conference.
With revenues set to double from approximately EUR 2.8 billion to over EUR 5.5 billion within the next decade, the market for Earth observation applications is boosted by a large pool of value-added services. This is especially the case within the climate services, urban development, energy, insurance, finance and agriculture segments.
“Farmers can use Copernicus-derived information to monitor the health of their crops and study the quality of their soil,” explained da Costa. “And urban planners can use Earth Observation data to design sustainable smart cities and build infrastructure that is more resilient against the impact of climate change.”
Copernicus also complements the other components of the EU Space Programmes, including Galileo and EGNOS. For example, construction companies can use European GNSS (EGNSS), together with Earth Observation, to first select locations with the best conditions and then monitor the building or infrastructure asset over its entire lifespan.
Maximising Copernicus’ benefits
However, to truly maximise Copernicus’ economic and societal benefits, European companies must fully embrace the power of Earth Observation.
To help, EUSPA is in constant communication with European companies, helping them on how they can best leverage Copernicus data, information and services.
“SMEs and start-ups are in the spotlight since they are key to enlarging the use of Copernicus. They are more agile, able to adjust new business models and technologies more swiftly. Besides, they can be closer to end-users and local authorities permitting them to innovate affordably,” said Diani.
EUSPA has also launched several Earth Observation focused funding opportunities for companies, including Horizon Calls and innovation competitions as part of the CASSINI programme focussing on entrepreneurs.
“Our intent is to position EUSPA as the go-to-source for all things related to Earth Observation and EGNSS,” concluded da Costa. “That means to be the single point of information, expertise and market intelligence that companies from across Europe can depend on when integrating European space solutions into their start-ups, enterprises, innovations and research.”
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