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OPPORTUNITY 5G for L’ ART (L’ Aquila, Abruzzo Region, Rome, Torino)

With the aim of providing evidence of the advantages deriving from the link of space and 5G technologies, ESA has initiated a dialogue with several user communities and stakeholders, presenting a number of application areas of specific interest to the local user communities and economic/societal context.

This specific Announcement of Opportunity originated from three collaboration agreements between:

the Agency and Roma Capitale 

the Agency and the University of L’Aquila/the Abruzzo Region/the Municipality of L’Aquila 

the Agency and Municipality of Torino 

In agreement with the above stakeholders, ESA has defined relevant use cases that can show-case in an operational context the benefits of using space in conjunction with 5G, at the same time leading to sustainable services to the benefits of the local communities. The initiative aims to stimulate submission of proposals by industry and institutions to study, develop and demonstrate applications based on space and 5G addressing the use cases and /or themes subject of the following thematic calls: 

For more information please join one of our webinars:


  • 30/10/2019, 15:00 CEST
  • 04/11/2019, 15:00 CEST 







Feasibility Studies

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Demonstration Projects

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Hiber – how pie in the sky became reality

Two and a half years ago, the founders of Hiber wondered why only 10 per cent of the globe was covered with gsm and mobile networks, limiting the availability of IoT (Internet of Things). 

So the Dutch Government-backed start-up got in touch with the European Space Agency and set about changing this. The resulting collaboration saw the development of Hiber’s own constellation/satellite network, and the creation of two nano satellites (10cm cubes) or ‘Cubesats’ for delivering global connectivity – known as ‘Hiberband’. (The company is called ‘Hiber’ because these terminals hibernate most of the time, turning on only when a Hiber satellite passes overhead to relay positioning and status updates.) 

HiberOne and HiberTwo were launched at the end of 2018 – and Hiber announced this week that the satellites are now commercially operational – bringing IoT connectivity to the vast majority of the world currently lacking a network. 

First to offer global IoT connectivity as commercial service 

Traditional satellites that provide wider coverage are expensive and power-hungry, which has meant many IoT applications and services have not been economically viable (e.g. monitoring soil moisture to improve production efficiency and crop quality in third world countries). 

Hiber’s service uses a process that is significantly cheaper than existing global solutions, making it a truly global IoT network. As many potential IoT projects fail due to lack of connectivity,  Hiber estimates there is a potential €7 bn opportunity for growth.

“It is beyond exciting to be the first company bringing full IoT-connectivity to the globe — as well as being the first ever commercial Dutch Satellite operator,” said Laurens Groenendijk, Co-Founder of Hiber. “The commercial applications for Hiberband in the IoT-industry are limitless. We look forward to powering diverse projects, from tracking cattle to tackling climate change and more effectively growing crops.”

Frank Zeppenfeldt, from ESA’s telecommunications Future Projects Division, says: “Hiber is now a company with 35 people. This activity demonstrates the importance of a lightweight mechanism to attract newcomers and explore and support their proposed initiatives. Without this, the above would never have happened. Hiber has received the title of ‘Commercial Startup Launch of 2018’  from Amazon Web Services, but more importantly, has attracted a good amount of private capital.”

Coen Janssen, Co-founder/Director of Business Analytics, Hiber says: “The Hiber team has made a mark in history by getting this new technology developed, tested in space and up and running within 2.5 years of conception of the company, with people that have flocked to us from pretty much all over the world; 35 individuals with 20 different nationalities.” 

He continues: “As a team we are also part of something bigger and without the support of ESA we would never even have embarked on this journey. We are well on our way to set the global standard for Low Power Global IoT connectivity and are on to something truly disruptive for many industries and people all over the planet. We started working on a pie in the sky idea and now it is becoming a reality!”

Among Hiber’s pilot customers is Clean2Antarctica, a team of environmental campaigners using a solar powered car made from waste plastic to cross the Antarctic.

Other customers include a Dutch company which will be bringing climate stations to schools in rural communities in Peru, Tanzania and Sri Lanka to educate tomorrow’s smart farmers and Blik Sensing, which helps manage water resources by providing insight into global groundwater levels.


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Bridging the gap - how Space is improving bridge safety

High winds, extreme tides, temperature changes, unusual traffic loading and ageing materials can put bridges under enormous pressure, occasionally to the point where they become dangerous. 

At 2.5km, the Forth Road Bridge in Scotland is one of the longest bridges in Europe: GeoSHM (GNSS and Earth Observation for Structural Health Monitoring) is being used to monitor its movement.

Last year’s bridge collapse in Genoa, which killed 43 people, is a tragic example.  ESA is now supporting a unique and innovative service initiated by a team from the University of Nottingham, to monitor the health status of bridges.

The University’s Geospatial Institute and its industrial partners such as UbiPOS UK Ltd., have developed a ‘world-first’ integrated sensor called GeoSHM-Lite for monitoring the structural ‘deformation’ of long-span bridges. GeoSHM  is the result of research led by Dr Xiaolin Meng, which originated from his PhD work at the University 20 years ago.

The GeoSHM system combines GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) for on-site monitoring with Earth Observation technologies for inspecting land movements, to offer an integrated solution for bridge maintenance.

Dr Meng’s team developed a prototype with ESA, which was installed on the Forth Road Bridge in Scotland in 2014. A major strategic link between the north and south of Scotland, the bridge’s maintenance is essential to transport in the region. When in 2015 a truss end link fractured on one of the north-east tower girders, the entire bridge was closed. However, critical observations from GeoSHM complemented other data to provide sufficient confidence to re-open the bridge.

“Experts at the Nottingham Geospatial Institute worked with Amey to assess the behaviour of the bridge under load tests and high wind loading by attaching remote GPS sensors to the bridge. In association with other health monitoring sensors, we were able to monitor the bridge’s condition and safety behaviour in real time.  Data from structural health monitoring supports asset management by providing smart solutions which help decision making, reduce closures, cost and public inconvenience,” said Mr Bill Valentine, Technical Director at Forth Bridges Unit of Amey Consulting.

The success of the system led to a potential investment of £8,500,000 from China and as a result, GeoSHM is now being used on three Yangtze River bridges in China.  

“We liaised with bridge operators and other key infrastructure owners to understand their upmost needs and the gaps in the market,” says Dr Meng. “We worked with ESA to build our expertise in relevant fields and used our existing strengths to fill these gaps.”

Group photo of GeoSHM Consortium GeoSHM provides real-time measurements of bridges during normal and abnormal loading conditions and gives a complete picture of the structure in its changing landscape, identifying threats caused by environmental conditions, land motion, engineering works, landslip, mining and industrial activity.

Some structural monitoring systems were already using GNSS, but these had limitations when applied to long, flexible structures like bridges. Issues such as the very high cost of receivers, positioning accuracy and signal blockage impeded reliability. GeoSHM has solved these and taken patent pending technology to the next level with several novel features.  

“The system can give more accurate estimates of the movement of the bridge long-term – for factors like thermal expansion (changes as a result of temperature increases) - as well as giving deformation (strain) estimates of a wide area of land surrounding the bridge. This is of critical importance to infrastructure operators and owners,” says Roberta Mugellesi Dow, ESA’s technical officer.

GeoSHM targets a large bridge monitoring market that is worth approximately USD 2 Trillion globally. There are more than 264 long-span bridges in the world, over half of which are in China: and  GeoSHM is being supported by a subsidiary of China Railway Group, Asia’s largest construction company. The creation of a supply chain for GeoSHM has also created 50 jobs globally as of 2018, with bases in London, Nottingham and China. 

Dr Meng says: “We are very lucky to have had such support from ESA, they helped to make my dream come true and turn my PhD into reality! ESA has helped me make the transition from academic peer to being able to implement the idea – put it into practice. I cannot claim I’m a business man, but ESA provided the valuable input to deliver the project – they have been so supportive.”



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6th Annual ARTES Applications Workshop

ARTES Applications Workshop 2016 - Event Photo Gallery

On 28 – 29 April the 6th annual ARTES Applications Workshop took place in Brussels. This year’s workshop was jointly organised by the IAP team and the Belgian Science Policy Office, Belspo, and was held at the Brusssels 44 Center.

The event was very well attended, with more than 230 participants from many parts of Europe. Thirteen service providers exhibited their products and services in the demo corners.

In the opening session, Amnon Ginati, who established the Integrated Applications Promotion (IAP) programme at ESA, gave a lively and entertaining speech about the many challenges he and his IAP colleagues had faced in the beginning and the excellent results IAP has been able to achieve.

A special feature of this year's workshop was the Space Business Idea Challenge, organised in collaboration with the Vlerick Business School, Belgium. From the open call, six teams were selected to give presentations. The jury selected the three best ideas, and the winning teams were awarded prizes and will receive further support from ESA to implement their ideas.


The presentations from the workshop may be downloaded below.

Session Topic Speaker & organisation
Introduction session:
Startups, SME's and Space applications
Room: Auditorium
Keynote speeches by guest speakers from following organisations:  
Belgian Science Policy Office Jacques Nijskens (Belspo)
European Space Agency Magali Vaissiere (ESA),
Amnon Ginati (ESA)
Enterpreneurship vs. Management Hans Crijns (Vlerick Business School)
Maritime challenges and the contribution of Space Leendert Bal (EMSA)
Session 1:
Panel discussion on ARTES Applications and complementary funding opportunities
Chairman: Elia Montanari (ESA)
Room: Auditorium
Funding Opportunities under the ARTES Applications Programme
(download all presentations for this session)
Amnon Ginati (ESA)
Space for Mediterranean Acceleration Programme Youssef Hammidadin (Oasis500)
Seraphim Space Fund James Bruegger (Seraphim)
Ovinto: testimonial on funding challenges Frederic Ronse (Ovinto)
Geosatis: testimonial on successful raising of external capital Urs Hunkeler (Geosatis)
  Avia-GIS: testimonial on successful raising of external capital Guy Hendrickx (Avia-GIS)
Session 2.A:
Space 4 Transport
Chairwoman: Rita Rinaldo (ESA)
Room: Auditorium
Introduction to ARTES Applications transport projects portfolio analysis Rita Rinaldo (ESA)
EuroPORT: Optimising Intermodal Freight Transport through European Ports Joao Sequeira (GMV)
RTICM: Real-Time and Intelligent Cargo Monitoring Gerd Eiden (Luxspace)
Advanced SAT-AIS Maritime Applications Simon Chesworth (Exact Earth) and Jon Farrington (Roke)
DG-Trac: Support of dangerous goods transport in the medical sector Harold Linke (HITEC Luxembourg S.A. )
Skyliberty: Air navigation safety for general aviation Nicolas Hanse (ESNAH)
Session 2.B: Masterclass: How to convince investors? Cedric Donck (Vlerick Business School)
Masterclass: How to convince investors
Room: Break-out room
Session 3:
Space 3 Green energy
Chairwoman: Carla Signorini
Room: Auditorium
Introduction by the ESA Directorate of Technical and Quality Management Carla Signorini (ESA)
UK ambassador platform for offshore renewable energy Callum Norrie (Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult)
Sewiss: Space Enabled Wind Installation Site Screening Paolo Senes (Optimize group)
CSP-FoSyS: Concentrating Solar Power Forecast System Zeyad Yasser (TSK Flagsol GMBH)
Session 4.A:
Turning EU directives into business opportunities
Chairman: Leendert Bal (EMSA)
Room: Break-out room
Introduction to space applications in support of waste management Tony Sephton (ESA)
Steam: RPAS to help EU Member States enforce the EU sulphur emissions directive Pierre Debusschere (CLS)
ICWM4MED: Monitoring of Coastal Water Quality Paulo Manunta (Planetek)
Cymons: Cyanobacterial monitoring services for operational management of surface waters Marco Pieterse (Blueleg Monitor)
Session 4.B:
Space weather: Application opportunities
Chairman: Jan Dettmann (ESA)
Room: Auditorium
Introduction to Space weather in ARTES Applications Jan Dettmann (ESA)
ESA Space Situational Awareness: Space weather and possible applications Alexi Glover (ESA)
Swair - Space Weather Impact on GNSS service for Air Navigation Paulo Martins (Present Technologies)
Session 5:
Satcom operators initiatives to attract innovation
Chairman: Francesco Felliciani (ESA)
Room: Auditorium
Open the way to new ideas Francesco Feliciani (ESA)
Satlas: SatCom Service Incubator Manuel Cuba (SES)
High Capacity Satellite (HCS) Applications Factory initiative Shahida Barick, Carlene Lyttle, Michelle Kennedy (ViaSat UK)
Session 6.A:
Different paths leading to ARTES Applications
Chairman: Nicolas Helssen (ESA/BELSPO)
Room: Auditorium
Introduction to ESA ARTES Applications Ambassador platform Norbert Huebner (ESA)
Snowsense: from IAP Prize and to Demo Project Florian Appel (Vista GMBH)
Technology Transfer Programme Office broker network Sam Waes (Verhaert)
Profumo and Sympa: from EC-FP7 to ARTES Applications Alessandra Settin (Vitrociset)
Session 6.B:
Space & Crowdsourcing: What's possible?
Chairman: Gonzalo Martin De Mercado (ESA)
Room: Break-out room
Introduction to big data for space applications Gonzalo Martin De Mercado (ESA)
Aircheckr: Air Quality check service using satellite imagery and crowdsourcing Nicolas Dosslaere (Nazka Maps)
New Commons: Urban forestry montioring using satellite imagery and crowdsourcing Paul Hickey (Breadboard Labs)
Simona: Satellite assets Integration for Maritime situatiON Awareness Salvatore Castiglione (Engineering Ingegneria Informatica) & Valerio Corini (Nais Solutions)
Session 7: Introduction to the ESA space 4 rail portal Michele Castorina (ESA)
Space 4 Railway ERTMS evolution, the role of satellites Chiel Spaans (ERA)
Chairman: Michele Castorina (ESA) How Satellite Navigation is contributing to a more efficient European Transport Fiammetta Diani (GSA)
Room: Auditorium Samolosa: Satellite Monitoring for Logistics Safety Frederic Ronse (Ovinto)
  EOMST: Satellite Internet Broadband on trains Pierre Eisenmann (21Net)
  3insat: GNSS and Satcom Integrated applications for the Evolution of ERTMS Francesco Rispoli (Ansaldo)
Session 8: Pitching presentations of Space Business Idea Challenge finalists Cedric Donck (Vlerick Business School)
Space Business Idea Challenge: Pitch deck
Room: Auditorium
Session 9: Introduction David Praet (Belspo)
European service - Global reach Professional IP services for Africa and Middle East Caroline De Vos (SatADSL)
Chairman: David Praet (BELSPO) Vecmap: Mosquito Habitat Mapping Guy Hendrickx (Avia-GIS)
Room: Auditorium Saltwater: Surface Water Monitoring Marco Pieterse (Blueleg Monitor)
  Geo-SHM: Structural health monitoring of bridges Xiaolin Meng (Nottingham univ.)












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Presentations available for download

Space as a superpower delivering sustainable business for the good of humanity

"Space can be a superpower to deliver sustainable business for the benefit of all," Elia Montanari (Image credit: Shutterstock)
Since its inception, ESA Business Applications and Space Solutions (ESA BASS) has striven to put Space at the service of sustainability.

Elia Montanari, Downstream Business Applications, talks about how ESA welcomed the 17 Global Goals framework adopted by the UN in 2015 – and how this ultimately led him and the ESA BASS team on a revelatory journey of discovery… 

The 17 Global Goals are also known as the Sustainable Development Goals or ‘SDGs’. They provide a complete framework that aims to transform our world by tackling multiple challenges humankind currently faces. They aim to ensure well-being, economic prosperity and environmental protection by 2030 through sustainable development world-wide. 

 “While the framework is thorough and it’s clear that any sustainability impact is the result of small steps, I have always found it difficult to quantify the relevant impact that our 1,700-strong network of companies deliver through the ESA BASS projects and studies,” says Elia.

First stop: Networking and Nobel laureates

In his quest to capture the ephemeral SDG impact on any of the prescribed indicators, Elia plugged into his network in the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. The search bore fruit when he came across some prominent work by economist and Nobel neo-laureate, Professor Esther Duflo, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), notably her book entitled Poors Economics

Professor Duflo promotes ‘impact over ideology’ meaning that policy makers must understand the impact of a policy decision through simple experimental evidence.

The basic data and some simple statistics rapidly revealed that ESA BASS activities currently account for about two thirds of all ESA activities – with at least one SDG nomination reported on the ESA SDG portal, despite ESA BASS representing less than 1% of the total ESA budget.Elia Montanari,  Downstream Business Applications

Sustainability is the Holy Grail 

Further cross-data analysis identified 45 activities capable of delivering the holy grail of any business with purpose: business that is economically viable and sustainable in terms of one or more SDGs. 

It then became clear that Space can be a superpower to deliver sustainable business for the benefit of all,” said Elia.

This compelled him to venture further into the very source of the SDGs: “The epochal encounter happened in New York during the UN General Assembly in September 2019 but metaphorically very close to home,” he recounts. “A fellow Italian and from my home city of Ravenna –   Leonardo (Chief Operating Officer of Studiomapp) and I met in New York. This was the first time a representative of ESA and one of its companies were present at UN General Assembly side meetings.”

Angela Corbari and Leonardo Alberto Dal Zovo from Studiomapp (part of ESA BIC Lazio)Founded by Angela Corbari and Leonardo Alberto Dal Zovo in 2015, Studiomapp was created with the mission of leveraging space data and assets to help address the SDGs of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Angela and Leonardo opened my eyes by showing how artificial intelligence and satellite imagery can be used to provide solutions for addressing impact in SDG9 (innovation), SDG11 (smart cities) and SDG14 (life in water)

Ultimately it’s a machine employed for the good of all of us, using satellite images to find information on territory and the environment on a global scale.

It’s as a result of the work of Professor Duflo that Elia and his team are now engaging in further and deeper analysis about the impact of Space on the SDG indicators. In her MIT classes on the Foundations of Development Policy, Duflo teaches that the link of causality between a few basic but fundamental questions can be tested via thought experiments also known as randomised controlled trials.

It is also thanks to the achievements and excellence of companies like StudioMapp which are part of our ecosystem that Elia and his team will be able to quantitatively derive impact from these experiments.

The journey to deliver sustainable good through the power of Space has only just begun, so please get in touch if you want to hop on board!


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ESA Business Applications Final Presentation Day

The ESA Business Applications Final Presentation day took place this month at the DLR’s Headquarters in Germany, showcasing activities that have achieved outstanding results in the areas of energy, maritime and communications.

 Industry participants present their final presentations at the DLR's Headquarters

The event was opened by Dr. Gerd Kraft (DLR Director) who introduced the role of DLR as a German research and development organisation, major contributor to the European space programmes (e.g. EO, SatNav, SatCom), and promoter of innovation through a number of initiatives in several domains (e.g. artificial intelligence, competition INNOspace Masters, the initiative SpaceMoves, networks Space2Motion, Space2Agriculture and Space2Health).

Dr. Rita Rinaldo, Head of Institutional Projects for Downstream Business Applications at ESA, presented the scope and objectives of the ESA Business Applications and Space Solutions programme (BASS) and introduced upcoming initiatives and future tenders. Among these, the Kick-Start scheme was highlighted as a successful instrument attracting SMEs and new entrants to ESA, supported by DLR.

All participants expressed positive feedback in relation to the event and interest in repeating it in 2020.

The seven teams presented their projects and engaged in inspiring discussions.   With an efficient use of innovative technologies (e.g. artificial intelligence, High Altitude PseudoSatellite, machine learning, concentrated solar power systems, microgrids), they have all provided valuable service propositions along specific business verticals, such as communication in deep sea, smart fishing, services for electrification in developing countries, communication for off-shore, snow forecast dynamics and hydropower assessment.

Anke Freimuth, Coordinator for ESA Business Applications of DLR, said: “Thanks to this event we were able to show a number of interesting projects addressing a very diverse range of topics at a different stages of maturity, such as Kick-Start-activities, feasibility studies and demonstration projects”.

The day gave us the possibility to show the multiple possibilities within the German Space Agency offered by the ESA Business Applications programme and how we can give newcomers the possibility to get in contact with the Agency and its different directorates,” she added.

Dr. Rita Rinaldo said: “The event showed how the investment made by ESA and DLR in the projects gave a high return in terms of socio-economic impact, with companies being able to reach the market and commercialise the services developed from what had been at the beginning just an initial idea."

We are proud that ESA has helped them reach that stage and we look forward in the future to a higher number of companies through schemes like kick-start, through dedicated initiatives to be undertaken together with users/stakeholders operating in specific sectors and through the BASS network”.


Industry presenting:

COLDSUN “Communication reLay for Deep-Sea for Deep-Sea Underwater Networks” by D3TN

GLAUCUS “Smart Fishing and Route Planning System”  by Deep Blue Globe

VIDA “Village Data Analytics” by TFE Energy

“Service enabled by HAPS” by Unisphere

COM4Offshore “Interactive communication and monitoring system for offshore wind energy ” by OHB

SnowSense “Integrated Service for Runoff and Hydropower Assessment and Forecast related to Snow Cover Dynamics in Remote Areas”  by VISTA

CSP-FoSYS “Concentrating Solar Power Forecast System for Participation in the Spanish Electricity Market using EO and Communication Technologies” by TSK FLAGSOL ENGINEERING GMBH 


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Portuguese Space Solutions celebrates their 5th anniversary at the 1st joint ESA Business Applications and ESA Space Solutions meeting

During the first three days of October, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) team of Business Applications and Space Solutions (ESA BASS) had their first joint meeting, in Coimbra, Portugal, gathering its network of partners. This event was also the perfect opportunity to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Portuguese Space Solutions Centre.

ESA Business Applications and ESA Space Solutions network: “The power in Europe is that we work together”. Image credit:Luís Carregã


Inaugurated in late 2014, Instituto Pedro Nunes (IPN) was the first European Space Solutions Centre to host within the same entity and team the three ESA elements promoting downstream businesses: ESA Business Incubation Centre, ESA Technology Transfer Brokers, and ESA Business Applications Ambassadors.  The aim was to foster synergies between programmes and initiatives, and IPN has been a case study of how these tools can better foster national economies by the use of space technologies and satellite data.

In the past years, the results of combined efforts have been positive:

  • 30 incubated companies which allowed the creation of approximately 100 new jobs, with a total turnover of around 5 million euros and an export capacity of over 75%.
  • More than 30 space technologies identified with potential to be commercialized in non-space markets.
  • 16 ESA Business Applications small feasibility projects directly supported to create new products and services in terrestrial markets with an investment of 2.5 million euros.

“The entrepreneurship new space ecosystem is there, alive and kicking”, said Carlos Cerqueira, Head of the ESA Space Solutions Portugal, and “ESA Space Solutions Portugal was the spark that boosted it and made it a truly vibrant community”. 

Representatives of 20 ESA Member States gathered in Coimbra to foster businesses powered by space. Image credit:Luís Carregã


During three days, representatives of 20 ESA Member States, from ESA BIC managers, Technology Transfer Brokers and Ambassadors, as well as ESA staff gathered in the Portuguese student’s city of Coimbra to discuss the future of the network, share experiences, learn with each other as well as to identify the key success factors to foster downstream businesses, and align future join efforts. 

In the words of Frank Salzgeber, Head of Innovation and Ventures Office at ESA: “The power in Europe is that we work together. We have different nationalities, different ideas and different skills in our network, and by working together we know are more powerful.”

The programme included plenary sessions to the overall network; ideas exchange; hands-on collaborative workshops to discuss the future challenges of the network; sessions on ESA patent portfolio and available funding tools, optional programmes that could be of benefit for the Member States economic development; and parallel sessions to each profile expert (ESA BICs, Brokers and Ambassadors). Ultimately, all agreed that the newly joint teams have the power to promote key activities in 20 ESA Member States fostering innovation, entrepreneurship and new scalable downstream businesses. 

“In this room you could find the key experts from almost all Member States to support your business, within the plethora of ESA funding opportunities” said Nick Appleyard, the Head of ESA Downstream Business Applications.


The network shared hands-on collaborative workshops fostering new space businesses. Image credit:Luís Carregã


Beyond the joint meeting the event also brought industry and space tech providers / brokers together to discuss and match the needs presented by companies such as Ansell Portugal, Eletrolux, Martifer Renováveis, The Navigator Company, Prio Energy, Sellafiel, Sonae Inovação, Valeo and the Portuguese Centro Region Intermunicipal Community. This session provided the network more than 45 potential space to non-space tech transfer opportunities. 


Celebration of the 5th anniversary of the Portuguese Space Solutions Centre. Image credit:Luís Carregã


IPN also celebrated its own achievements and milestones of the past 5. New incubates were presented to the network, as well as national projects funded through the Small Business Applications Portuguese call and also success cases of technology developments from space down to Earth. The celebration was completed with an ESA BIC Portugal alumni graduation ceremony.

Overwhelmingly the feeling of the event was the importance of the joint efforts and complementary skills that will help to solve the network challenges in the near future.  


Author:  ESA Space Solutions Centre Portugal

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Protecting Polish forests from fire hotspots

A column of smoke in a National Park forest can cause chaos. During the dry season and when visitor numbers are high, a stray spark from a cigarette end or a campfire can spell the end of a holiday for tourists, closing areas of the park and even triggering the evacuation of a local town. 

SmallGIS’ sensing system localises and track forest fires remotely, allowing for faster and more effective fire-response planning.  Image credit: Shutterstock

Polish company and expert in geoinformatics, SmallGIS, are trialling what is locally a trailblazing solution developed under ESA’s Business Applications programme, using space data to spot and fight fires more effectively.

Known as the ‘Green Lungs of Warsaw’ Kampinoski National Park at 385.44 square kilometres is second largest park in Poland located on the outskirts of Warsaw and has the UNESCO status of a biosphere reserve owing to its valuable and unique ecosystem.  The park covers and protects the ancient Kampinos Forest which is strictly protected. The park has 1230 km tourist paths with 1 million visitors annually. Image credit: Shutterstock

In Poland, where national parks form a special fire danger zone, the Krakow-based company have rolled out a remote sensing system to support fire management activities. 

The Remote Sensing Fire Protection System integrates satellite technology with an airplane platform that uses thermal and optical sensors combined with GNSS.  The service grew out of a Geographic Information System Mapping (GIS) method which SmallGIS developed in the first instance to improve the management of timber logging operations – TIKKA Service.  

Now the state-of-the-art service has been adapted to help identify fire hotspots in Polish National Parks – namely the Kampinoski National Park where it is being piloted.

Due to the huge influence of human activities the park is affected by many unpredictable fires. 

“Local fire management teams now have vital support in real time from the remote sensing data service,” explains Piera di Vito, Applications Engineer at ESA. “The service generates VHR (Very High Resolution) Earth Observation imagery for the specified search area. A GNSS positioning system is used to assign the coordinates of the images registered by the sensors so that fire hot spots can be rapidly identified and their geolocation transferred to the mobile devices of the field team.” 

Mapping and tracking fires in real time

Highly detailed topographic and vegetation maps generated by data processing outputs from the plane sensors give vital clues for fire route planning. The maps, when overlaid with other map data give critical information such as fuel density, spatial distribution and fuel gaps – key factors involved in fire management decisions. Fire fighters have a better picture of how fast the fire will spread, where there are breaks in the path of the fire, such as treecanopies or corridors which could limit – or hasten the spread of the blaze. 

Airplane with multisensors. Image credit: SmallGIS

“Fire managers can make faster and more accurate decisions. It also makes firefighting work safer, reduces fire and smoke damage to the park and its users as well as reducing the time and cost of firefighting,” Bartosz Kulawik, Market Development Director, SmallGIS    

“The data processing on board during operational fly actions was the most important technical aspect of this project,” says Bartosz Kulawik. “The most critical part was building the data link as this solution had to be very fast at transmitting large quantities of data in order to allow early detection and maintain a current situational picture”.

The demonstration phase has been so successful that the commercialisation of the service in the National Park is now underway. 



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ESA to partner with AXA to harness the provision of seamless and sustainable healthcare

View of Earth's atmosphere from space - Image credit: AXA

On October 14th, 2019, ESA and AXA signed a Memorandum of Intent to work together for better Healthcare in Africa.

Too many people in emerging countries are unable to obtain affordable access to healthcare due to a lack of social security, while huge gaps in coverage exist that are not being met by public services or private insurance. To help tackle this issue, ESA is joining forces with AXA in a partnership that will enable ESA’s cutting-edge expertise in satellite technology, data management, artificial intelligence and digitization to be harnessed for the provision of seamless and sustainable healthcare.

The partners are exploring how to leverage ESA’s satellite technology to provide remote areas with Internet coverage, as well as back up for urban areas to ensure the sustainability of our service. ESA and AXA aim to use digital services and technologies that don’t even exist yet in western markets, such as medication delivery to homes, teleconsultations, the concept of health coaches, and more. The technologies could leverage much more reliable and affordable healthcare, at costs that would have been unimaginable just 10 or 20 years ago. So the benefits to millions of African customers are threefold: accessibility, affordability and quality.

The partnership will start in Egypt, but any service developed for one market can be developed for anywhere else. 

Hassan El Shabrawishi, CEO of AXA One Health expressed, “We signed our memorandum of intent between AXA and ESA, which is our first step. This memorandum is intentionally very broad because there are so many projects and technologies that ESA is willing to share with us”.

Nick Appleyard from ESA Business Applications and Space Solution said, “Healthcare in Africa is a good example of one of the common interests between ESA and AXA. The problems of infrastructure and access to health services can be greatly reduced by using satellite technology – and satellite services are available around the globe”.

AXA’s overall strategy of promoting healthcare in emerging countries.

Forming partnerships with public and private actors is at the core of AXA’s strategy. The Group is very keen to work closely with multilateral organizations on key topics, including health. AXA One Health initiative bases itself on the payer-to-partner principle, but doing so requires the support of an ecosystem of private, public and multilateral organizations, to achieve this aim of making healthcare more accessible for millions.

Benoit Claveranne, CEO AXA International and New Markets, commented, “Health systems in emerging markets are at a crossroads. As insurers, we have a role to play in expanding access to care and filling the gap when needed. We must adapt to these changes and provide health solutions that are relevant to local needs.”

The MOI will open the prospects of engaging into concrete projects within our respective programmes, to engage in the development of novel and sustainable services in emerging countries.


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Snow Patrol: Space assets supply missing info for snow monitoring

SnowSense provides critical input missing from snow monitoring until now. The service gives precise information about the water that is stored in the ground snow cover, such as in the mountains, northern countries or in polar regions.  (Image credit: Shutterstock)Information about the water contained in snow and its properties is of vital importance to multiple sectors. Whether for hydropower, for flood and avalanche warnings, or for general water resource management – this information holds the key to some fairly critical forecasting. Now a new service is taking the snow community by storm…

SnowSense is a Snow and Runoff Information Service created by Munich-based  VISTA Remote Sensing in Geosciences GmbH, with the support of ESA’s Business Applications Programme.

SnowSense snow station at the Millertown Dam, in the centre of Newfoundland, during moderate snow cover status  (Image credit: ANavS)

The solution, initially designed to help hydrologists working in remote and seasonally inaccessible areas with limited infrastructure or communication, integrates three space assets: Earth Observation, Global Navigation Systems and Satellite Communication.

“With SnowSense all three space components demonstrate their excellent potential for solving specific users’ needs for snow monitoring.” Olivier Becu, ESA 

SnowSense provides information on snow cover and the resulting hydrological dynamics, such as snow melt and run-off formation – dynamics which are extremely useful for those in charge of the reliable and safe production of hydropower and flood management. 

“Snow represents both risk and potential;  we are dealing with climate change and flooding…but snow is also energy, irrigation and food security. This the most important topic we’re working on.” Florian Appel, Head of Hydrological Services, VISTA

Snow is traditionally measured in terms of height, but this is of limited use to hydrologists as fresh snow is very light and over time it becomes compressed. The usefulinformation is what’s inside the snow cover and ultimately what will melt at the end of the season.

“The water stored in snow cover is known as the Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) and it’s the most relevant parameter,” explains Amir Ali Khan, Manager at the Water Resources Management Division of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, where the SnowSense demonstration took place. “The SWE is currently only measurable by using costly automatic stations or getting out in the field with snow mobiles or helicopters. In remote areas we often simply cannot obtain this information.” 

SnowSense fills a gap in current services by providing spatial and temporal data in high resolution through the application of Earth Observation and modelling. This allows for the creation of spatial SWE maps of regions as well as giving run-off information at specific points of interest for real-time purposes and forecasts.Left: User Ali Khan (Water Resources Management Division) and Florian Appel (VISTA) after installation of the first SnowSense station in St. John’s Newfoundland and Labrador. Right: Snow station near the Bay d’Espoir Hydro.  (Image credits: VISTA)

“One of the key elements in this project is the use of a novel in-situ hardware component,” says Olivier Becu. “Based on GNSS signals, snow properties can be retrieved by an autonomous, easy installable, maintenance-free and low-cost design sensor.”

The utility of the service spans many more fields than hydrology with a broad appeal for governmental and research institutes/universities (weather services, snow physics, avalanches) as well as private and commercial applications.  There are also possible applications in areas such as logistics, transport and insurance. 

“User needs and requirements may differ from the standard SnowSense service, but a synergistic use of the in-situ hardware and the service we’ve developed would be possible,” says Florian Appel, Head of Hydrological Services at VISTA. 

Users and customers for SnowSense are primarily located in North America and Scandinavia, but also in all countries with significant snow cover and dynamics (more than 40 worldwide). 

 “Under ESA’s Business Applications programme we have carried out successful demonstrations, patented the technology and installed hardware on the island of Newfoundland and in Quebec, with snow stations now operational in Germany and Switzerland. There is widespread interest for this service among the snow community – in fact we had sales and contracts established before the end of the project,” adds Appel.

With the first devices now sold in Europe and orders from key customers on the way, VISTA are now having discussions to establish a development partnership for the next-generation SnowSense Sensors. 



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