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The opportunity for innovative space applications

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The world’s most valuable resource

The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data

This recent observation by The Economist, has made me wonder if we, as a nation, are making sufficient use of all sources of data. Whilst much of the value of data lies with its application, together with its aggregation, sharing, and processing, the source and nature of data on offer is a fundamental component of that value.

Some significant data sources appear to remain under-utilised and their value unrealised. In my opinion, one such under-utilised source is that of space.

Proven benefits of space applications

Satellite in space orbiting the Earth

We already benefit from some established applications of satellite derived data in areas such as broadcast, communication and meteorology as well as positioning, navigation and timing (PNT). These applications are almost taken for granted now but they are of significant value to industry, government and society; a recent study has shown, for example, that the loss of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) to the UK would amount to approx. one billion pounds per day.

The potential for innovation

With access to space becoming cheaper and with improvements in features of satellite data such as frequency and resolution space is becoming increasingly attractive as a data source. The potential of data sets that cover the world in increasing detail, can identify objects and be used to detect and predict change is huge. The growing demand for fast information and continuous connectivity from industry and society is also driving significant market opportunities for this source of data.

The integration of satellite and terrestrial data offers further potential and many powerful solutions are anticipated from this combination.

As much of the value will continue to lie in the application, the opportunity for entrepreneurs is in the development of truly innovative and integral applications of satellite data that can disrupt and create new markets. The global nature of space derived data also brings opportunities for scalability in many cases and this reinforces the value of such applications.

Sectors of opportunity

At this stage, we are seeing opportunities and initial developments in sectors such as:

  • transport
  • logistics
  • energy
  • infrastructure resilience
  • health
  • agritech
  • fintech particularly insurance
  • resource management

Innovative applications of space enabled positioning, tracking, monitoring, mapping, change prediction and remote and seamless connectivity could, for example, offer business customers important benefits such as productivity gains and exceptional cost avoidance.

The potential of space enabled communication and broadband services to enhance both mobile and machine to machine connectivity (M2M) in the internet of things (IoT) also offers future value of potential magnitude.

Funding for innovative space applications is available through the Emerging and Enabling Technologies competition from Innovate UK.

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