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BalticSatApps Project Supports Commercialisation of Earth Observation Data in the Baltic Sea Region

04 December 2017 Turun yliopisto (University of Turku)

In the past 30 years, substantial R&D efforts in the field of Earth Observation (EO) have been made globally, but the observation data has not yet been commercialised on a larger scale. The European Regional Development Fund has financed the international BalticSatApps project which aims at speeding up the market uptake of EO data in the Baltic Sea Region. The project is led from the Brahea Centre at the University of Turku, Finland.

At EU level, EO activities are coordinated with the Copernicus programme whose satellites provide useful data, for example, on the state of the environment. The Copernicus programme is based on free and open data policy, and the data it produces should be available to everyone in real time. However, technical barriers currently prevent users from fully exploiting the data and information that Copernicus delivers.

– The central aim of the BalticSatApps is to increase the utilisation of the open access satellite data provided by the Copernicus programme in new business ideas, and perhaps also for increasing the efficiency of already existing businesses. With the satellite data, for example, challenges and needs related to environmental protection and safety can potentially be solved. The project increases awareness about the Copernicus programme in the Baltic Sea Region, and facilitates the application of the data provided by the programme in business activities, says Project Manager Tuomas Ranti.

Utilising the satellite data with new technologies and information sources creates new opportunities for companies in the EU. According to Ranti, the commercialisation of satellite data, or more precisely EO data, requires stronger links with field-specific operators of the production chain.

– In addition, the project stimulates EO demand and related innovation activities through co-creation methodologies and iterative development. For example, a series of hackathons will be organised in order to generate new business ideas in EO, says Ranti.

International Multidisciplinary Co-operation

The international project consortium consists of three types of organisations. One group of collaborative partners includes organisations, such as Finnish Meteorological Institute in Finland and Tartu Observatory in Estonia, that utilise the data provided by Copernicus.

– The national satellite service centres of the Finnish Meteorological Institute offer an easy access the satellite data in the Baltic Sea region and northern hemisphere which reveal the changes in the arctic environment and support global arctic research. The BalticSatApps is extremely important for the Finnish Meteorological Institute in maximising the national and international benefits of EO infrastructure, says Senior Researcher Ali Nadir Arslan from the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

The project also involves innovation stimulation organisations, such as the University of Turku and Swedish National Space Board, as well as Turku Science Park and similar science and technology parks Tartu and Cracow. In addition to Finland, the partners of the project are from Estonia, Poland, Russia and Sweden.

– The Copernicus programme is extremely important for the Baltic Sea region. The Swedish National Space Board has already established a national data bank which contains data from the Copernicus satellites. The data can be used to analyse climate change and air quality, as well as for acquiring forecasts and exhaustive general pictures of catastrophe areas. BalticSatApps improves the opportunities of companies and organisations to use the data for developing society and economy, says Project Manager Björn Lóven from the Swedish National Space Board.

Training for Science and Technology Parks

Open satellite data, mini-satellites and the interest of private companies towards asteroid mining reveal a revolution in space business. Also, new start-ups can succeed in the field, even though it has traditionally been managed by state operators and big corporations. BalticSatApps is also promoting this change.

The measures of the project support the activities of the recently founded ESA BIC Finland Business Incubation Centre where Turku Science Park Oy is . According to Ranti, the project also organises trainings for local science and technology parks.

– The aim of the trainings is to support businesses that utilise EO data with tailor-made incubation programmes, specifies Ranti.

The duration of the project is 1 October 2017–30 September 2020 and it has received a funding of €2.8 million.

The project website can be found at http://balticsatapps.eu

https://www.utu.fi/en/news/news/Pages/BalticSatApps-Project-Supports-Commercialisation-of-Earth-Observation-Data-in-the-Baltic-Sea-Region.aspx

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