ESA title

Water as a Food Resource

  • Activity Kick-start Activity
  • Opening date 08-04-2022
  • Closing date 27-05-2022

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


With the global population expected to exceed nine billion by 2050 (United Nations), pressures are placed on existing food systems, their sustainability for the environment and implications for food safety. The over-exploitation of land and intensive agriculture practices have adverse externalities on soil and water quality and have been the causes for large sanitary crises. The production of food from the oceans and in-land aquaculture will relieve some of the pressure that has been put on agriculture to achieve UN sustainable development goals on food security, climate action and oceans preservation

A way to obtain significantly more food and biomass sustainably from the ocean is to harvest seafood that on average is from a lower trophic level than we currently harvest. A benefit of plant (e.g., seaweed) and herbivore (e.g., mussels) mariculture compared to agriculture is its independence from industrial fertilisers, feed, and large supplies of freshwater. In addition, the culture of algae can capture carbon (carbon sink) and is considered as a viable means to reduce or even balance carbon emissions at a world level while occupying a fraction of the world’s oceans. For example, a kilogram of mussel requires 100 times less CO2 to produce than sheep meat.

The path towards a massive adoption and production of safe food from water requires integrated approaches where the whole eco-system and its externalities are monitored and where consumers can have access to appealing products, with ensured quality (proper sources of nutrients) and transparency.  This revolution will also require technological innovation and in particular satellites-supported services, which is the aim of this call.

Key focus areas

  • Fishing in remote locations: remote fish farms are less prone to water contamination as strong water currents refresh the water and remove parasites. Identification of suitable locations to deploy remote fish farms, effective monitoring, and operation management of farms in remote locations (such as the open sea, isolated lakes, or remote coastlines), and coordinating operations of shrimp fishing vessels in polar areas that need data and voice broadband connectivity are all key topics of interest.
  • Precision fishing: Key focus areas include advanced tools and technologies to optimise fishing operations and management: free floating geo-located buoys to monitor water quality, analysis of sea conditions to identify the presence of specific food at a specific location (such as krill), pollution forecasting services for shellfish production (such as mussel raft farms), deployment and management of hybrid infrastructures (such as coupled offshore wind and sea fish farms), and monitoring and reducing or valorising discards - more than 10% of fishes are unintentionally caught and trashed.
  • New food from oceans: algae consumption could be a solution for solving the issue of growing population. Key topics of interest include the identification of suitable geographic locations for scaling up macro & microalgae cultivation, remote monitoring of the site conditions and of the infrastructure components such as irradiance, land use, topography, temperature, and CO2, etc.
  • Safety & transparency: This includes controlling the access to high sea fish farms (for example against non-authorised vessels) with geo-fencing and broadband communications, as well as supervising certificates of origin with geo tagging techniques that can testify that fishes were caught in a specific area.


Exploitation of space-based assets and data is crucial for the development of food production from oceans and water bodies:

  • Satellite Communication will provide connectivity to remote locations such as coastal lines, isolated lakes, and open sea infrastructures. Such connectivity is needed to monitor the sites and status of the food production, and provides communication means where no other network is available. Buoys with water quality sensors (e.g., salinity, turbidity, chemical content) can transmit their data through a suitable satellite Internet of Things (IoT) network. IoT systems making use of satellite communication technologies and solutions are instrumental for providing information on microbial or pollution levels, which are required to ensure safe food production from oceans.
  • Satellite Navigation data can be used for locating and geo-referencing new sites of deployment, and for generating time referenced and georeferenced sensor information of deployed IoT systems.
  • Earth Observation data can provide instrumental information for the identification of the best sites for establishing new farms.  The data can also contribute to the monitoring of the site to assure that the climate and environmental conditions meet the requirements. SatEO based models can also forecast water quality and metoceanic conditions and provide the farm manager with actionable information. 
  • Satellite AIS provides valuable insight on ship movements and situational awareness at sea, allowing management of vessel traffic and access control in remote fish farms or restricted fishing areas.


Kick-Start activities explore the business opportunity and the technical viability of new applications and services that exploit one or more space assets (e.g., Satellite Communications, Satellite Navigation, Earth Observation, Satellite AIS). This call for Kick-Start activities is dedicated to the theme “Water as a food resource”, which means that the call is open to companies that intend to develop space-enabled applications and services relating to the themes in this domain.


  1. Register by completing the online questionnaire on esa-star registration (this provides for the minimum ‘light registration’)
  2. Visit esa-star publications and search for this opportunity to download the official tender documentation. Official documents will include proposal templates, a draft contract, and additional information about this opportunity.
  3. Use the official documents to prepare your proposal.
  4. Write your proposal and obtain a Letter of Support from your National Delegation, if needed (see Authorisation of Funding section below).
  5. Submit your proposal via esa-star tendering by the deadline. 


ESA Space Solutions can provide funding to perform Kick-Start activities under this ‘Food as a water resource’ initiative to any company (economic operator) residing in the following Member States: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden.

However, please note that currently, Austria, Greece, and Switzerland are not supporting Kick-Start activities. Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have opted out of supporting this particular Kick-Start initiative. 
Applicants must inform the National Delegation of the country they are residing in to obtain a letter of authorisation allowing the funding of the proposed activity. Contact details of each national delegate can be found here ( 

Currently, Luxemburg and Norway have pre-approved funding for this kick-start activity. Applicants from these countries do not need to obtain a letter of authorisation from their National Delegation.

Kick-Start activities are funded at 75% by the European Space Agency for a maximum of €60K per contract.


  • 30 March 2022 11:00 CEST/10:00 BST
  • ESA:
    • Antonios Maillis
    • Antonio Rodenas
  • Guest speaker:
    • Nina Kickinger, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)