Putting Earth observation into ‘the market perspective’

Wed, 13 Oct 2021 01:20:00 GMT
ESA Observing the Earth

With a boom in the global market for Earth observation information and data products, participants...

With a boom in the global market for Earth observation information and data products, participants at this year's Φ-week conference have been digging deep into the 'market perspective'.

According to the latest report from the Geospatial Industry Outlook and Readiness Index, GeoBuiz, the Earth observation industry as a whole is estimated to have been worth almost US $58 billion in 2019, rising to almost US $76 billion in 2020.

With respect to Europe industry, the 2021 survey published by the European Association of Remote Sensing Companies, EARSC, indicates that in 2020 there was a 24% growth in the number of companies associated with the Earth observation industry, as well as a 24% increase in revenue and a 17% rise in employees, compared to 2019.

While this traditional approach of providing Earth observation data works extremely well for the scientific community and established users of data-based services, and support business creation in Europe, the rapidly growing commercial market for Earth observation products opens a myriad of opportunities - for the Earth observation industry, and for the protection of our planet.

During the session dedicated to the market perspective at Φ-week, Steve Bochinger from Euroconsult delivered an extremely positive view of the future Earth observation market with emerging new verticals, albeit not completely free from potential complications.

While ESG certification picks up pace, the growth in Europe's market for Earth observation is also closely linked the European Commissions' Green Deal - which aims to transform the EU into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy, ensuring no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050.

This growth in the Earth observation market comes at a time when there are an increasing number of commercial companies developing small satellites relatively quickly and selling the resulting data products directly to their customers alongside space agencies such as ESA, which tend to take the 'slow road' developing satellite missions, which either prove new observing techniques, respond to gaps in scientific knowledge or deliver systematic data over many years.

Simonetta Cheli, ESA's Head of the Earth Observation Strategy, Programme & Coordination Office, said, "The need for new ways for ESA to support the commercial Earth observation industry to develop innovative satellite missions, products and services remains more important than ever, particularly with respect to growing market demands and to monitoring and managing the impacts of climate change. We are adopting the concept of New Space to explore different ways of bringing benefits to the commercial world, and ultimately help building a stronger and leading European EO economy."

Commercialisation is one of the priorities in ESA's Agenda 2025 and we, as ESA, have to work together with the market, the Earth observation industry and private investors to ensure that everyone can benefit from the wealth of information we get from space.

While Φ-week continues and 'the market perspective' becomes clearer, there are already other moves towards blending traditional Earth observation with business initiatives.

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