SPARK ME develops an acceleration programme to attract, support and validate new application and service ideas using Satcom in association with additional space technologies. To this end, SPARK ME proposes the creation of two Technological Accelerators (Competence Centres), in Matera (IT) and Nairobi (Kenya), fostering technology transfer and capacity building activities to facilitate the use of space technologies for Commercial applications (products and/or services). The mission of the Competence Centres is to support innovative ideas with high potential, placing the interaction between the research and the space industry at the heart of a process of territorial economic development and growth. The ultimate goal is stimulating the creation and growth of new markets of space/satellite-based services, addressing the real users’ need and triggering cross-fertilization processes by "contaminating" other areas of activity with the use of space technologies. New applications of integrated solutions using satellite telecommunications within a converged 5G environment, able to cover a very broad and heterogeneous range of use cases and to open to additional unforeseen ones are boosted by the acceleration programme.
Users and their needs
The SPARK ME Acceleration programme is devoted to innovators/start-ups/researchers willing to accelerate innovative ideas and support the business through the use of space technologies.
The targeted user communities need to:
- Have access to satellite technologies to run and accelerate their business
- Have access to customised satellite applications to run and accelerate their business in several fields (eHealth, education, financial, agriculture, eGov, broadcasting, etc)
- Have access to technological and business support in terms of training, mentoring, coaching, networking
The SPARKME platform make available a series of elements which enables users’ new satcom applications and services (to be proposed, developed and integrated by the acceleration programme). These elements include: the satellite connectivity, pre-existing applications (eHealth, education, financial, agriculture, eGov, broadcasting), pre-exisitng monitoring, reservation, video-conference and LMS software, satellite/5G/ICT devices. The adoption of the SPARK ME services affects the way users are traditionally running their business because they are supported by a set of new skills and technologies that facilitates improvements and enhance competitiveness.
The SPARKme Acceleration Programme is developed both in Matera (IT) and in Nairobi(KE) and is open to innovators/start-ups at international level.
Service/ system concept
Main capabilities of the product are represented by the innovative element/s proposed by the applicants and the SPARK ME elements:
- Satellite and 5G technology internet access;
- Outcomes Assessment Tool (OAT);
- Videoconference software;
- eLearning platform;
- ICT devices;
- Accelerator Web Portal;
- The Space Economy Academy;
- Pilot of the Acceleration Programme;
- Validation of the piloted ideas and commercial roll-out.
The architecture is based mainly on:
- Satellite connectivity
- 5G technology
At the Competence Centre in Matera, users have access to internet connectivity and other ICT services using Eutelsat’s Tooway CPE, SES’s SAT3Play CPE and 5G router connected to Openet’s 5G HUB.
At the Competence Centre in Nairobi, users have access to the services using SES’s SAT3Play CPE. All the internet traffic and ICT services (videoconference, cloud and eLearning) will be monitored by the Openet Management Platform offering also a provisioning system and a QoS management tool to optimise satellite broadband and 5G network use. The Openet Management Platform is updated on a real time base thanks to the web services connection with Eutelsat, SES and 5G hubs and offers to users the possibility to personalise the service specification in correspondence with the actual needs.
Space Added Value
The product consists of the applications developed and validated during the Acceleration programme integrated into the SPARK ME ecosystem and supported by the two Competence Centres in Matera (IT) and Nairobi (KE). Thanks to SPARK ME, the first space accelerator created in Italy and in Kenya, innovators have the opportunity to benefit from a set of services delivered during 12 months of pilot operations within a fruitful ecosystems represented by:
- Technical resources both in Matera and Nairobi: satellite connectivity, fablabs and facilities, pre-existing applications in the field of eLearning, eHealth, eGov, infotainment, broadasting, 5G technology, Learning Management System, videoconference software application, cloud file sharing, Outcomes Assessment Tool);
- Networks of institutional, scientific and industrial partners;
- Technical-scientific advisory support in the frame of the Space Economy Academy (SEA) intended as the outreach tool;
- Facilitating actions to find financial resources in support of the accelerated ideas.
The SPARK ME initiative boasts a disruptive element, which may play a key role for the enhancement of the business opportunities in unexplored satcom/TLC market segments, which is represented by the possibility to boost new applications consisting of integrated solutions using both satellite TLC and the 5G new standard.
The Final Review has been achieved on 16th March 2020.
Despite some difficulties faced during the activities, from a technical point of view the SPARKme initiative has demonstrated a concrete way to deploy affordable, reliable and suitable actions to support business ideas especially in very isolated areas. The business ideas piloted in the SPARKme ecosystem has allowed Openet to facilitate opportunities – mainly affecting the smart agriculture applications - to consider for future development of the acceleration programme. The training activities has demonstrated to enhance the capacities of entrepreneurs to deal with a wide range of topics related with various satellite/space applications and to better share technical information in the concerned field of activities.
Eventually, within the Space Economy Academy, 13 events covering tens of working days, of institutional, educational, business, training and awareness raising activities addressed to both space- community and new generation of innovators have been organized at national and international level. Sensitizing actions have contributed to widespread the knowledge of satellite/space based applications towards the educational world. 4 Kenyan companies benefited from the acceleration programme and used the Satcom technology and further 4 Kenyan companies and 1 Italian SME are ready to start the operational utilisation of the SPARKme services in the coming months. The Competence Centre in Nairobi has benefited from the satellite technology in supporting videoconference and training sessions for the accelerated companies.
Thanks to the SPARKme initiative, several business opportunities have been raised and Openet intends to work in strict cooperation with the partners involved in SPARKme in order to move forward with a commercial roll-out plan. The experience started with the test of the smart education use case within the 5G environment is representing a further element to enlarge the addressable market for the SPARKme services