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BLOG: Satellite Data in the Maritime Sector

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Catherine Johns, Innovation & Business Growth Director talks about accelerating space innovation in the North East.

Business Durham has appointed Urban Foresight to lead an open innovation programme to support the growth of the North East space sector. As part of the Satellite Applications Catapult Centre of Excellence (CoE), the programme aims to accelerate space and satellite related innovations and bring more investment into the North East.

In a dynamic, global economy, satellite driven geo services remain crucial as a result of what they can deliver, and can provide significant scalable market opportunities for data savvy innovators and entrepreneurs. In 2014, a bid led by Business Durham secured funding for a new Satellite Applications Catapult CoE based in the North East. Now, an exciting new innovation programme led by Urban Foresight will further help local companies in the space technology, by opening up challenges to local industry, facilitating collaboration formation and bid writing.

This project offers a fantastic opportunity to extend and strengthen the innovation community and will help to promote the North East as a centre of excellence in commercialising space technology and satellite data. A number of themes will provide focus for developing projects and funding applications across the three years of the programme, each aiming to use space technology to address societal challenges.

Due to a growing local and national interest in societal issues in the maritime sector, including security, pollution and efficiency, and the resilience of infrastructure at sea, the first theme is solving maritime challenges using satellite applications. A problem framing event took place to explore issues faced by the maritime sector, and now Urban Foresight and the Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence are facilitating the progression of the opportunities and partnerships identified at the event. This includes one project using machine learning of past and present shipping behaviour to increase the information used for security alerts at sea, to save time and resources for real incidents and create a safer maritime sector.

Future project building within the open innovation programme may include using satellite technology to transform ports to make them more modern to increase logistic efficiency and reduce pollution, and to address issues with water management, such as tracking and predicting flooding and leakages.

Our open innovation processes typically start with creative processes to identify and access external opportunities, translating these into investable projects, demonstrating that they work and scaling up solutions into full commercial offerings. For the programme to be successful and to have a real impact, organisations will need support in progressing between each of these phases over an extended period of time.

Dr David Beeton, Director of Urban Foresight: “We are over the moon to be supporting local companies to develop space and satellite business ventures. Our work will help bring more investment to the area and further enhance the reputation of the North East space sector.”

Urban Foresight will be presenting a case study at the “Discover the Possibilities” conference 22nd March 2018 – register here www.nesatappsconference.com


Samantha Amy
Digital Marketing Manager
+44 (0)1235 567999