How has space technology revolutionized our everyday life and can we apply it to our business models?
People nowadays do not pay much attention to how things have changed in the last few decades and the impact that technological evolution has had in our daily lives. What is interesting about these revolutionary inventions which we take for granted, is that the groundwork for their creation derives from space related activities. Things explicitly made to improve space exploration can now be seen in our homes as well as workplaces aiding us in various activities.
One example of these innovations are phone cameras, the idea behind them was that in the year 1990 a small portable camera with scientific quality of picture taking was necessary, the technology used then is now contained in 1/3 of all cameras. Another example are Wireless Headphone sets. Created because astronauts needed to be able to move without worrying about wires while receiving important information which might be crucial in the event of crisis.
There is a collection of different space innate inventions that find use in our daily lives, but perhaps one of the most influencing discoveries which led to a significant development in distinctive sectors and industries is the internet and its effects on communication. Most of the means people use for communicating with each other and the world today, are dependent on satellites orbiting the Earth, constantly receiving and sending signals to different devices.
The idea of Internet of Thing (IoT) was developed through an embedded web technology to monitor space experiments remotely over the Internet. This connectivity of IoT means potentially taking all the things in the world and connecting them to the internet, thus leading to the constant transfer of information making things ‘smart’ and creating variety of benefits feeding off each other.
This is why we should encourage innovations in the space industry as it plays a huge role in the technological aspect of our lives. New inventions find useful and sometimes unexpected purposes in different areas, leading to creative and efficient solutions. Internet of Things serves as a good example, being applied in a business model it could lead to a higher performance and better productivity including less operating and direct cost, therefore giving the opportunity of taking a business to the next level and positively impacting the growth of the economy.
SMEs and startups will be familiar with the need to practice their pitch and make it sound right, but what about making it look right? Not everyone is handy with design, so here below is a compilation of some of the free resources online which can be used to put your pitch together:
The EIC Accelerator pilot (SME Instrument) supports high-risk, high-potential small and medium-sized enterprises to develop and bring to market new products, services and business models that could drive economic growth.
The work programme 2018-2020 is looking for innovators with ground-breaking concepts that could shape new markets or disrupt existing ones in Europe and worldwide and so as of 5 June 2019, only ground-breaking concepts at the last stage before scale-up can be funded. However, for those meeting the requisites, substantial funding is available via this programme. (Eligiblity: For-profit SMEs, including young companies and start-ups, from any sector, established in an EU Member State or a Horizon 2020 associated country).
Proposals must be based on an initial business plan and outline the specifications of a more elaborate one, which will be the outcome of the project.
Grant only funding is provided (funding rate 70%) of between €0.5 million and €2.5 million. Under the blended finance option, the grant component is limited to €2.5 million combined with an equity component of up to €15 million. You can request a higher or lower amount, duly justified, when applying.
The final deadline for applications for Phase 1 is 5 September 2019. For more details and the link to apply see here.
The total for the last call of this research and innovation programme from the European Commission is 11 billion Euros.
Infrastructures in research and innovation will be funded with 343 million Euros and the Enhanced European Innovation Council (EIC), still in its pilot phase, will benefit from 1.2 billion Euros. Digitalisation and transformation of European industry and services with 1.8 billion Euros and 396 million Euros are dedicated to Artificial Intelligence.
From the EIC work programme, there is some key information to be highlighted of particular interest for start-ups (including new equity funding as of June 2019).
The following selected links to specific sections of the Horizon 2020 work programme may be particularly relevant for start-ups, SMEs and Space:
Lack of interoperability is a significant issue in electronic road tolling systems. These systems need to be reliable, user friendly, and cost-efficient to enable the development and implementation of fair road-charging policies and to cope with future technical developments. A significant step forward for interoperability at EU level has been made with the publication in March of a new European Directive on the interoperability of electronic road tolling systems and the European GNSS (Galileo and EGNOS) is slated to play a major role.
Lower costs for European Electronic Toll Service (EETS) operators mean that charges can be lower, more traffic will flow on toll roads and/or more fees can be raised to improve road infrastructure; bringing benefits for operators, users and the public economy. Interoperability of tolling systems also makes sense in terms of usability, with drivers able to seamlessly switch from one road-pricing scheme to another as easily as they ‘roam’ across borders on mobile phone networks.
The new EU Directive 2019/520 lays down the conditions necessary to ensure the interoperability of electronic road toll systems across the entire European Union road network, including urban and interurban motorways, major and minor roads, and other road infrastructure such as tunnels or bridges, and ferries. It will also facilitate the cross-border exchange of vehicle registration data to ensure collection of any road tolls due.
For full story, see GSA website (http://www.gsa.europa.eu).
Automated vehicles are on the way, and the European GNSS Agency (GSA) sees satellite navigation as a core technology that will help to ensure their safe operation. At the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the GSA shared its space with the 'ESCAPE' project, an EU-funded initiative that has developed a unique positioning module for autonomous or semi-autonomous driving.
Autonomous vehicles will feature both sensor-based and connection-based solutions for a variety of vehicle services. Ultimately, the GSA sees a ‘converged solution’ as the best alternative, combining the strengths of both approaches. By integrating sensor data and connectivity-based information, operators can reduce the need for the most expensive sensors and at the same time save money on infrastructure.
The Fundamental Elements-funded ESCAPE project has designed and prototyped the ESCAPE GNSS Engine. It is a unique positioning module that combines precision GNSS and 4G connectivity, for the highly accurate and reliable positioning capabilities required to make automated driving a reality.
One of the things that make ESCAPE unique is the way it brings together high-end GNSS processing capabilities with an industrialisation process that targets high volumes and comparatively limited cost and size. It also encompasses hardware and software safety procedures required for certification for the automotive market.
The unit is ready now, but we have yet to see autonomous cars in large numbers on the road. Is this a problem for the ESCAPE system? Jessica Garcia Soriano, R&D engineer of the Advanced Communications Business Unit at explains, "From the very first moment that you have an autonomous car in the street, you will need high-accuracy positioning, because these vehicles will need this positioning to maintain themselves safely on the road. But we don't have to wait for autonomous cars. The vehicles on the road today can already benefit from this technology"
GNSS-based location will have to be complemented by other technologies in order to get to the integrity level needed in all driving situations, but the GSA also believes the combination of dual-frequency GNSS and 4G/5G connectivity can do more than just navigation, enabling as well a diverse range of in-vehicle location-based services (LBS), much like what we see emerging in smartphones.
To read more see http://www.gsa.europa.eu.
When abundant, water allows economies to grow, but in times of scarcity, it can cause life-threatening crises. It has never been more important to manage water supplies effectively to make good use of every drop – and satellites orbiting the planet can play an important role in this process.
Thanks to satellites, we are better placed than ever before to understand and measure the processes driving the water cycle and the impact that climate change and human activity are having. They also allow us to measure and monitor, for example, the changing shape of lakes, reservoirs and rivers so that mitigation strategies can be put in place.
A huge percentage – around 70% – of the freshwater drawn is used for agriculture alone. Satellites such as ESA’s SMOS mission and the Copernicus Sentinels provide key information on soil moisture and crop health and this information can be used to improve the efficiency of irrigation practices. Data from the Sentinel-2 mission are key to the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service, which provides geographical information on land cover and its changes, land use, vegetation state, water cycle and surface-energy variables for a broad range of users across the world.
Other organisations use satellite data in platforms, such as EOResearch Synergise’s Blue Dot Observatory, so that users have easy access to information to monitor changing water bodies. Satellites such as Copernicus Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2 and ESA's CryoSat can also be used to monitor glacial change, which has a real impact on water supplies downstream. For example, part of the Himalayas, known as ‘the third pole’ – because these high-altitude ice fields contain the largest reserve of freshwater outside the polar regions – provides freshwater for over 1.3 billion people in Asia, nearly 20% of the world’s population.
We live in challenging environmental times, but we also have opportunities like no other time in history, where satellite technology can be used to deliver and share information with the world for the good of society at large.
Read more here.
Astronauts have generally spent six months on the Space Station in the last few years but the international partners that run the research platform are looking to do more one-year missions as well as short-duration missions. With new flight opportunities on the horizon for astronauts on both longer and shorter flights ESA is looking for experiments that can be conducted in two months or less.
Investigating how the human body adapts to life in space is crucial to better understanding the complexities of exploring our Solar System. European research discovered that at a cellular level it only takes 42 seconds for organisms to return to normal after being exposed to weightlessness. Why this amount of time and what processes are involved remain open questions - especially when it comes to the entire human body.
For this reason, more research proposals for studying astronauts before and after their flights are required. When we send humans to Moon or Mars, astronauts will be exposed to different levels of gravity and will need to adapt or risk the entire mission. The immediate period when an astronaut returns to Earth from the International Space Station is particularly ripe for scientific insights and recommendations.
What experiments would you put forward for the International Space Station? Visit ESA’s research announcement page for details on how to send in your proposal.
Our space environment poses many threats, both natural and human-made that can be a risk to life and property, and impact the infrastructure in orbit and on the ground. ESA is working on new projects and missions to tackle these, such as the Hera mission to a binary asteroid system, the L5 space weather mission to Lagrange point 5, or concepts for the monitoring and active removal of space debris.
When interviewed for EuroNews at the recent conference in Brussels to plan a new space mission programme for the EU's space agency, Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA) said: “Together with the Americans, with NASA we are looking for a project that should try to play billiard in space, hitting a small asteroid to see how we can deflect an asteroid which is running towards the Earth”.
This is part of the emerging field of Space Safety, as to be included in the proposals of ESA Director General Jan Wörner for the next Ministerial Council, ‘Space19+’, in November 2019. Such issues would cover the challenge of space debris, ensuring a timely warning of space weather impacts or detecting and deflecting asteroids.
On the 18th December, the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt and the German Space Operations Centre (GSOC) in Obepfaffenhofen near Munich, Germany, signed a cooperation agreement.
Rolf Densing, ESA’s Director of Operations and Head of ESOC explained, "Public space infrastructure should be used as effectively as possible. ESA therefore endeavours to establish a European network of competence centres. Close cooperation between ESOC and GSOC, as well as subsequent cooperation with other agencies and organisations, should strengthen Europe's position as a partner and competitor in the world market".
This cooperation between ESOC and GSOC covers five areas: ground control systems, ground stations, space security and on-orbit servicing, post-International Space Station activities and crewed spaceflight, as well as general cooperation.
See here for more details about ESA's ESOC operations centre, and for information on mission operations at DLR visit their website.