Digitising Water Resilience - Acting on Water Stress in Basins

  • ActivityDemonstration Project
  • Opening date 01-11-2022
  • Closing date 28-02-2023

***Opening and closing dates are tentative***

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY

ESA has partnered with the CEO Water Mandate and 30+ members of the Water Resilience Coalition (WRC) to address the global water crisis in its three dimensions: availability, quality, and accessibility. This ‘Call for Proposals’ offers an exciting opportunity for your team to tackle water-related challenges with digital and space technology solutions alongside member companies. See the full list of corporate members here: https://ceowatermandate.org/resilience/#founders

The Call is part of a long-term plan to roll out digital water resilience monitoring services that improve the status of 100 priority water-stressed basins by 2030. We will select digital and space services companies with existing digital monitoring expertise to build water resilience monitoring at water basin level into your offering. Once the Feasibility Studies from this Call conclude, teams will have the opportunity to run a demonstration project (2023 – 2025) before putting the next generation water resilience monitoring solutions into action at scale (2025 – 2030). Teams can work alongside the CEO Water Mandate and the Water Resilience Coalition throughout the feasibility studies to align on accepted water resilience methodologies and indicators. Teams can also suggest solutions that involve other companies or organisations relevant for this digitized water resilience monitoring objective.

Relevant Topics 

Proposed Feasibility Studies should focus on either of these two topics:  

1. Digitising water basins to improve the monitoring of – and acting on – water resilience. 

The world’s 100 most-populated river basins are indispensable resources for billions of people, companies, farms, and ecosystems1. But over the next decade, the world will experience a 56 percent shortfall in freshwater supply2. Climate change is greatly exacerbating this water crisis; unless urgent action is taken, severe impacts – like intensified floods and prolonged droughts – will only worsen in the coming years.  

The Problem to Solve

Current data on basins can be:  

  • incomplete, with limited datasets 
  • inconsistent, with different data being collected at basins 
  • dispersed, with data scattered across multiple platforms, and 
  • outdated, with databases needing the next generation of information to assess water resilience

Proposed studies should therefore put forward solutions that: 

  • use space and digital technologies to visualise the current baseline of water stress at priority basins.  
  • identify large-scale monitoring solutions for the future. Prospective solutions could involve innovative technologies such as high-altitude platform systems (HAPS) and internet of things (IoT) SatCom constellations. These new efforts could be supported by public-private partnership (PPP) models. 
  • establish a mid-to-long-term roadmap for the solution roll-out and future technology evolution.   
  • develop a ‘proof of concept’ to ensure technical validity.   

2. Improving water sustainability in businesses by tackling issues in the value chain.  

A company’s water footprint can be seen in key areas of its value chain: raw materials, suppliers, direct operations, and product use. Therefore, businesses can play a leading role in mitigating water issues by innovating in three spheres of influence: direct operations, supply chain, and wider basin health3.  

Proposed studies should aim to develop services that relate to water sustainability in these three spheres, helping business to reduce their water footprint, improve resource efficiency and achieve net positive water impact targets. 

Expected Impact and Benefits 

This call aims to:  

  • catalyse the ability to digitally identify current sources of water stress (availability, quality, accessibility), and digitally monitor the progress of water basin health towards water resilience.   
  • enable companies to digitally monitor the impact of their commitments and investments into net positive impact on water access, availability, and quality, relative to their footprints, within all water-stressed basins where they operate. 
  • provide transparency and accountability on the actions companies are taking, together with water basin stakeholders, to reduce water stress and build resilience, in order to achieve sustainable development goal 6:  universal access to safely managed water and sanitation; improved water quality; and more efficient water use. 

ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITY 

Feasibility Studies will be supported under this Call. They should start in 2023 and run for one year. 

During this period, teams may work alongside the CEO Water Mandate and members of the Water Resilience Coalition (WRC) to: 

  • Gather and align water resilience-specific needs and requirements with best-in-class digital technologies to refine system designs.
  • Build digital technology capabilities for water resilience monitoring - including next generation indicators of water stress, climate impact and progress towards water resilience - into monitoring designs and services. 
  • Pilot test digitised water resilience monitoring solutions in two priority basins starting in 2023
  • Create a roadmap for the roll out of future large-scale digital water resilience monitoring services, with multinational corporations and international organisations.
  • Access additional expertise from WRC water resilience experts and member companies - and potentially additional opportunities for support via corporate open innovation platforms. A full list of WRC members is available here
  • Link to the Water Action Hub to access a broader global network of potential partners and collaborators on water sustainability and climate resilience: https://wateractionhub.org 

Once feasibility studies have been completed, teams will have the opportunity to progress to the scale up phase:  implementing water resilience monitoring services and trialling across multiple water stressed basins (Demonstration Project). Note:  The scale-up / Demonstration phase is outside the scope of this call, but the intention is for teams to run demonstration projects to prove that they can operate their service at scale across several basins. 

Ultimately, teams should endeavour to have an innovative service that effectively monitors, evaluates, and enables action on water resilience information across 100+ basins by 2030.   

VALUE OF SPACE  

Improving the status water-stressed basins is no mean feat. Large-scale solutions are needed to accomplish this goal and progress conventional water and wastewater systems into instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent systems. 

Satellite technologies and data have an important role to play within prospective services:  

  • Satellite Communications (SatCom) to connect data being captured in basins with decision-makers more efficiently (IoT); in addition, satcom is expected to be used as primary or redundant communications means for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) for autonomous vehicle operations. 
  • Satellite Earth Observation (SatEO) data (including next generation nanosatellite and cubesat networks) to support basin diagnostics and monitor progress on water security and resilience in basins.  
  • Satellite Navigation (SatNav) can be used to enable geo-referencing of in-situ data, as well as navigation and tracking of autonomous vehicles. 
  • High-altitude platform systems (HAPS) can provide an information layer complementing high resolution in-situ monitoring and large-scale satellite Earth Observation data. The integration of these data sets would eventually offer a complete, accurate and unified picture of water basin conditions. HAPS could also provide connectivity for connected autonomous vehicles (including command and control links, broadband payload data communications and inter-vehicle links to swarms of unmanned vehicles) and sensors in remote locations. 
  • Drones and other autonomous vehicles such as unmanned surface and underwater vehicles equipped with bespoke water monitoring payloads can provide very high-resolution data for detailed analysis of specific areas of interest.   
  • Digital tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) and digital twins offer significant opportunities to collect, process and better present data, helping to improve water quantity and quality, as well as water sanitation, hygiene, and access systems. 

WHAT WE OFFER 

We offer funding and support to companies, both for business case assessment and for the development of new, space-based services. Our offer includes: 

ESA will typically bear up to 50% of the eligible total study costs, but this funding level can be increased up to 80% for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, or research institutions. The precise funding amount should be discussed with your relevant National Delegate.  

For this Call, the total cost of each study is expected to be roughly 300k Euro, which will cover the development of a proof of concept, optional testing of the solution in two basins, establishing impact indicators, and developing a scale-up roadmap.  

WHO CAN APPLY?  

Teams from companies or organisations registered in the following Member States are eligible to apply for this opportunity:  

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. 

Please contact your National Delegation to inform them of your intention to apply for this opportunity. Contact details can be found here.  

Companies or organisations registered in Greece may apply for this opportunity if the proposed idea uses hybrid SatCom – terrestrial (wired or wireless) and 5G networks. If this is the case, please contact the Greek National Delegation to inform them of your intention to apply for this opportunity via the ESA 5G Strategic Programme Line. Participation is subject to Greek National Delegation Approval. Contact details can be found here

HOW TO APPLY 

  1. Fill out a ‘Pitch Form’: Scroll down to the ‘Downloads’ section of this webpage and download the ‘Pitch Form’ document. Answer the 7 questions on the pitch form.  
  2. Record a Video Pitch: Pitch your idea by recording a short video (duration between 1 and 5 minutes). Your video pitch should include the following information:  
    •    Who you are – Which company/companies will be involved in the feasibility study?  
    •    What your idea is – What is your proposed service and how does it work?  
    •    Which test users will be involved in the feasibility study – have you already determined who the users of your service will be? Have you engaged with them already? 
    •    Which satellite data and innovative technologies your idea will use – can you be specific about the data and technologies you will use?  
    •    Your starting point - Are you starting from scratch? Have you worked on similar projects in the past?   
    •    Your vision for the future – how will you aim to tackle water resilience - related challenges by 2030? Think big! 
    Once you have recorded your video, post it on a website or streaming service; you can use any service to upload it. 
  3. Submit your Pitch Form and share your video HERE by 28 February 2023: https://business.esa.int/form/digitising-water-resilience 
  4. A panel will review your pitch and will get back to you on the result within two weeks of submission.  
  5. Following a positive result, you will be invited to prepare an outline proposal, followed by a full proposal. We will connect you with somebody in ESA to help guide you through this process. A Letter of Authorisation must be obtained from your National Delegate at this stage.  

WEBINAR 

A webinar will take place on 3rd November 2022 at 15:00 CET to present this opportunity.
Speakers:

  • Liz Barrow - Business Applications Officer, European Space Agency (ESA)
  • André Villaça Ramalho - Coordination Manager, Water Resilience Coalition (WRC)