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Copernicus: down-to-Earth opportunities for SMEs reaching for the stars


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Copernicus: down-to-Earth opportunities for SMEs reaching for the stars

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  • The Copernicus programme is an EU system providing Earth observation data and information. It delivers operational data on a free, full and open basis.
  • Data from the programme help protect EU citizens in the event of an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a humanitarian crisis.
  • Copernicus creates new business opportunities and jobs. The OECD estimates that 58% of the global space economy relies on satellite data and signals.
  • Planetek is an Italian SME that has developed its own product range derived from Copernicus data in the areas of urban planning, map updates, and defence and security.
  • The company got the Felix Industry prize in Italy for their excellent work in the aerospace sector.

Some 58% of the global space economy relies on satellite Earth observation data. This data is available on an open basis in the EU thanks to the Copernicus Programme, as Massimo Antoninetti, of the Italian Research Council explains: “By analysing the potential impact of the Copernicus programme on the European economy, we can forecast a financial benefit of 30 billions euro and the creation of at least 50,000 jobs by 2030 “.

Business Planet went to Bari to meet Planetek Italia, which is exactly the kind of hi-tech SME the programme aims to benefit.

It specialises in geography and for 21 years it has been interpreting satellite data through applications that inform customers of the nature and evolution of soils, seas, urbanisation and agricultural land. The launch of the Copernicus Programme last year boosted the Planetek’s ambitions.

“Copernicus is very important for us because it produces more environmental data to transform into more environmental information for our customers, “ says Giovanni Sylos Labini, CEO of Planetek Italia.

The open and free access to Copernicus data is guaranteed until 2034, which allows Giovanni’s company to have a long-term growth strategy. The impact promises to be spectacular.

“Thanks to Copernicus, in the next 10 years Planetek Italia will be 5 to 10 times bigger than now. Today we employ 50 people, and we will employ 250 to 500 tomorrow, “ adds Giovanni.

His SME is part of what is commonly called “the downstream industries” of space economy, which should harvest most of the economic benefit of the Copernicus programme.

“Copernicus is the European programme for Earth observation from Sentinel satellites, explains Massimo Antoninetti, a researcher with IREA-CNR. “Through this programme, we can offer continuous, independent and reliable access to information on the environment, land and security”.

Citizens, researchers, entrepreneurs and public authorities; this information is open to everyone. It can be useful to many business sectors, such as the oil industry, insurance and transport.

Antoninetti accessing the programme couldn’t be simpler:
“After a simple registration operation, anyone can have access to the ESA website, in order to identify, and download directly, and for free, the images on your own computer.”

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