EXPANDEO 2024 – Press Release

Brussels, 14 June 2024

EXPANDEO 2024 Wrap-Up, Leaving a Lasting Impact on the Earth Observation (EO) Community

Key stakeholders and attendees from over 69 countries gathered for two days of insightful discussions at EXPANDEO 2024. The event took place in Brussels and online from June 12th to 13th, 2024, marking the 5th edition of the event, the 10th anniversary of the EARSC Awards, and the 35th anniversary of the association. This free event served as a platform for representatives from the European Earth Observation industry, user communities, and institutional actors to explore the present and future of EO in Europe. This year we had the pleasure of hosting 564 online and 164 in-person attendees and were honoured to welcome 85 esteemed speakers this edition. This engagement demonstrates the strength and growth of our community.

The event focused on “reaching new heights,” highlighting how policy, the green transition, commercialisation, and international partnerships are key drivers to support market opportunities and industry growth. Mauro Facchini from DG DEFIS, in his keynote, stressed EO’s role in achieving a prosperous, strategically autonomous, and climate-neutral Europe. He emphasised EO’s criticality in addressing the climate crisis and enhancing European strategic autonomy and competitiveness.

The Future of Earth Observation in Europe” session featured a panel discussing the evolution of Europe’s space domain and the pivotal role of EO across various sectors for EU space policy and economic growth. Panellists included Giuseppe Borghi from ESA, Fiammetta Diani from EUSPA, and Cristian Bulumac from the Greens/EFA Group in the EP, moderated by Celestino Gomez from GMV/EARSC. Mr Borghi highlighted the ESA Φ-lab’s contributions in advancing EO technologies, stressing collaboration between public and private sectors to maximise EO’s impact globally. Ms Diani focused on EO market opportunities, especially in sectors like agriculture, maritime, and urban planning, and emerging areas such as insurance and health services. Mr Bulumac emphasised EO’s shift from inspirational to practical applications in policymaking, stressing the need for effective communication and increased awareness of EO capabilities among policymakers.

The policy session highlighted how the Green Deal has catalysed growth in the EO sector, as satellite-derived data are critical for achieving climate neutrality goals. Discussions focused on two main EU policies: the Carbon Removals Certification Framework (CRCF) and the Deforestation-Free Products Regulation (EUDR). During the panel on CRCF, Mathieu Mal from the European Environmental Bureau served as the moderator. The panel featured Christian Holzleitner from DG Clima, who highlighted the importance of integrating Earth Observation (EO) into Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) methods and advocated for a standardised EU-wide system. Antonella Succurro from CinSOIL GmbH also presented on EO’s value-added approach in carbon farming, demonstrating how EO data enhances carbon stock assessments. Additionally, David Gazdag from Verra discussed certification processes for MRV solutions. Discussions included standardising criteria for certifying carbon removal activities in the EU, supporting deployment, ensuring compliance with standards, and addressing MRV requirements and challenges in EO technology development.

During the panel discussion on the EUDR, the focus was on the impact of the regulation, industry readiness, perspectives from service providers, and technological innovations. The importance of EO in ensuring compliance with the regulation and advancing sustainability goals was emphasised. Moderated by Irene Benito from Planet/EARSC Forestry Working Group, key discussions included the global impact of EUDR on supply chains, compliance challenges, and opportunities. Manu Jose Mattam outlined InterIKEA‘s strategies for meeting EUDR requirements, with a focus on challenges and EO technology support. Tim Hartl from CEPF discussed European forest owners’ preparations and the role of EO in compliance. Sven Przywarra from LiveEO showcased EO tools for compliance, addressing administrative burdens and data accuracy. Pierre-Alain Bosc from Airbus/ EARSC Director highlighted their reliable EO data for forest monitoring.

The afternoon session focused on internationalisation with Benjamin Koetz from ESA emphasising global collaboration’s role in promoting sustainable EO technology use and enhancing digital economies, highlighting the Copernicus regional centres’ importance in facilitating effective data utilisation. The first internationalisation session, moderated by Eleftherios Mamais from Evenflow, featured the African Union Commission (AUC) represented by Meshack Kinyua Ndiritu, who discussed the socio-economic and environmental factors driving EO demand in Africa. He emphasised the importance of EU-AU partnerships for developing the EO ecosystem in Africa. The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), represented by Horacio Castellaro, focused on consolidating a regional data ecosystem. He explained how EO supports environmental management and climate change mitigation efforts in the region. DG INTPA’s Thibault Valentin, highlighted their engagement with stakeholders, including governments and the private sector. Mr Valentin emphasised DG INTPA’s commitment to digitalisation, green transition, and societal resilience through initiatives like the Global Gateway and regional Copernicus Centres.

Before moving to the second internationalisation session, Matija Renčelj from ESPI highlighted 2023 investment trends in the space sector, discussing the findings of ESPI’s  report: Space Venture Europe 2023: Investment in the European and Global Space Sector.

The second panel on internationalisation, moderated by Betty Charalampopoulou, Geosystems Hellas/EARSC Director, focused on strategies for European-global private sector partnerships in regional and national markets, particularly in Africa, China, and Latin America within the EO industry. Insights were shared by Fabrice Irie from RPAG about the African market, emphasising local expertise and regional networks to foster sustainable development. He highlighted partnerships such as the GMES and Africa program. Tao Yue from China Siwei Surveying and Mapping Technology Co. discussed the Chinese EO ecosystem, focusing on collaboration and data accessibility, and their role in satellite operations and public services. The panel also featured Jaime Ortega from CopernicusLAC, who emphasised regional integration and cooperation in the region, particularly in monitoring sargassum, water resources, and mining activities using EO technologies.

Cecilia Donati from DG INTPA provided concluding remarks that emphasised the critical role of partnerships and ongoing initiatives in advancing global digital technologies and innovation. Ms Donati underscored the importance of transitioning to FAIR principles to meet infrastructure needs, strengthen institutional capacity, and deliver geospatial services effectively.

The next session explored opportunities and challenges in utilising Copernicus Sentinel data for operational climate solutions, with András Zlinszky, Sinergise, Uwe Marquard, T-Systems, Monika Krzyżanowska, CloudFerro, and Dennis Clarijs, VITO discussing the Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem (CDSE), emphasising its role in providing actionable EO data. Key topics included improving access to EO data, diverse interfaces, integrating data into operational solutions, developing services on platforms like CREODIAS, and ensuring scalability and commercial viability. Ms Krzyżanowska emphasised how CREODIAS supports innovation and Start-Ups.

EXPANDEO 2024 concluded its first day with a live pitching session featuring four innovative startups competing for the Start-up of the Year Award. Finalists included VorteX-io, METRICSAT, SaferPLACES, and WEO, each presented their unique solutions to an engaged audience, who voted to determine the winner. VorteX-io’s victory was announced during the awards ceremony. For the Product Awards, constellr’s Land Surface Temperature product claimed 3rd place, DISAITEK’s Platform for monitoring littering and illegal landfills took 2nd place, and the top spot was awarded to eoapp AQUA by EOMAP. Among companies, Planetek Italia earned 3rd place, CloudFerro took 2nd place, and OIKON Ltd, secured 1st place, recognising their excellence and contribution to the industry’s advancement and innovation.

Guillaume de la Brosse, from the European Commission’s DG DEFIS, opened the second day of EXPANDEO with a keynote outlining strategic priorities for the European Space and Earth Observation industry. He highlighted opportunities for driving innovation through EU policies, focusing on initiatives such as Galileo, Copernicus, and IRIS2, alongside “Newspace”. Emphasising the competitiveness and resilience of the space sector, he stressed the importance of preparing for upcoming Space Law enhancing EU autonomy. He addressed the need for increased research, innovation, private sector engagement, and robust funding under the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).

In the morning session on the Sentinel Benefits Study, participants explored the benefits derived from Copernicus Sentinel data across infrastructure management, forests monitoring, and lake water quality assessment by public authorities. Alessandra Tassa from ESA and Geoff Sawyer from EARSC introduced the capabilities of the data. Marit Undseth from the OECD addressed policy implications while Roya Ayazi from NEREUS moderated the panel stressing regional collaboration for effective governance. Carlo Masetto from Veneto Region discussed how Sentinel data informs local spatial planning, while Duarte Cota highlighted challenges and opportunities for island regions such Azores. Ana Sanchez from Irispace Brittany focused on technology’s role in regional connectivity and innovation, while Marc Tondriaux from TerraNIS emphasised the private sector’s support in enhancing Sentinel data utilisation.

The lightning session highlighted how projects and activities are supporting the user uptake. Irini Marinou presented the OCEANIDS project led by Geosystems Hellas, focusing on user-driven tools for Climate-Informed Maritime Spatial Planning and integrated seascape management to support a resilient Blue Economy. Cristina Ananasso from ECMWF discussed the Copernicus User Engagement initiative, enhancing interaction across Climate Monitoring and Atmosphere Monitoring Services to meet evolving user needs and foster downstream applications. Nicolas Fichaux from the EuroGEO Secretariat informed the private secotr about upcoming opportunities to promote their capabilities and join the EuroGEO community. EuroGEO Secretariat aims at harmonising European EO efforts bridging research to service providers and users.

The final panel, “Charting the Future of the Earth Observation Industry in Europe” focused on key growth drivers and commercial opportunities. Moderated by Carla Filotico from Novaspace, discussions covered policy, international partnerships, innovation, and public procurement. Panellists, including Marc Tondriaux from TerraNIS/EARSC Chairman and Ugo Celestino from DG DEFIS, highlighted digitalisation and EO data’s role in economic evolution, emphasising sustainability and societal value. They stressed the importance of robust public policies to enhance competitiveness, address both offer and demand fragmentation, and overcome adoption barriers. The panel also explored challenges in data acquisition and market expansion for commercial space data providers, alongside considerations for the EU space law in promoting strategic autonomy and digital advancement.

EXPANDEO 2024 journey concluded with EARSC Secretary General Emmanuel Pajot thanking all speakers, sponsors, and attendees for their contributions. He highlighted the crucial role of EO in supporting EU policies, enhancing understanding of user needs, and promoting collaboration across governance levels. He emphasised innovative approaches to EO uptake, communication, and networking, fostering professional connections and partnerships. The event concluded with an invitation to join again in June 2025.

Let us seize this opportunity, collaborate, innovate, and work together to unlock the true potential of Earth Observation in achieving our ambitious climate goals. Looking forward to seeing you in EXPANDEO 2025!

A heartfelt thank you to our generous sponsors: whose support was instrumental in making EXPANDEO 2024 a truly impactful event.

 EUSI CREODIAS CloudFerro S.A. Airbus Defence and Space – Intelligence EuroGEO – European contribution to GEO European Space Agency – ESA EU PROTECT Eurisy NEREUS | Network of European Regions Using Space Technologies.

If you have any suggestions or feedback for the next edition of EXPANDEO in 2025, please fill in this form.

Author: EARSC

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