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FUNDING: ESA Ports of the Future

By on

Ports of the Future – Feasibility

Closing Date: 20th April 2020


ESA Space Solutions is providing funding for assessing business and technical feasibility of new, space-based services related to the improvement of the port ecosystem. The activities will be 100% funded up to €200K per activity.



The port industry and shipping in general is undergoing important structural changes driven by the need of innovation. Major drivers are the pressure to reduce operating and capital costs, and the movement towards energy transition, which means that new players are targeting their focus on renewable energies and alternative fuels. Digital technologies are extending the range of innovation possibilities providing opportunities across the entire value chain, for example big data analytics can allow a renewed vision of the supply chains as well as predictive maintenance and automation which can reduce operational costs.

Ports of the future addresses not only the operations at the port but also the activities for the transport of people and goods, shipbuilding, off-shore energy, air and water quality monitoring, and more generally, any automation and security activities that support the efficacy of these practices. The evolving port environment presents a lot of opportunities for the European industry to come up with new and innovative commercial solutions enabled by space.

ESA Space Solutions is therefore launching a new Invitation to Tender, to assess the technical feasibility and economic viability of sustainable space-based services addressing the evolution of the port ecosystem. Such services shall be aimed at ensuring people safety, environmental sustainability, long-term economic growth and water security amongst others. Any resulting study is also intended to establish the roadmap for service implementation through one or more potential follow-on demonstration projects.

For the purpose of this study, ESA Space Solutions have undertaken discussions with several key stakeholders presenting scenarios and related service features which are considered particularly relevant for them. Major user communities are the port operators, shipping lines operators, logistics operators, haulers, freight forwarders/third party logistics, cruise and ferry lines. The stakeholder communities will be involved in the study by providing feedback to the results and contributing with inputs towards potential follow-on demonstration projects.


Potential services should:

    • Be enabled by space to support the evolution of the port of the future, including the use of imagery, radar technologies and weather data.
    • Integrate space with terrestrial capabilities and other technologies as machine learning and artificial intelligence, to allow operators to reduce costs, risks, increase efficiency, connectivity, safety and security of port infrastructure.
    • Develop sustainable solutions to reduce pollution of the air, water and soil in relation to shipping and transport capabilities, waste production and consumption of energy.

The following scenarios have been identified as key focus areas:

  • Port automation
  • Connected ports
  • Port infrastructure improvement
  • Port safety and security
  • Unmanned solutions
  • Environmental impacts and energy efficiency


New solutions and services related to port activities and operations include the monitoring of the port activities, monitoring and tracking of the vessels,  creation of mapping images and bathymetry data, support for anti-piracy and search and rescue, fisheries activities monitoring and protection, and services for environmental protection and enforcement.



Space technologies can play an important role in conjunction with the deployment of novel technologies in the improvement of the port ecosystem. The utilisation of big data analytics, image-recognition algorithms, crowd-sourcing, etc. offers a wide range of opportunities for new services.


For more information: CLICK HERE

Sharon Addinall
ehealth Business Engagement Officer
Sharon has worked within the health sector undertaking administration and management for the majority of her career and prior to joining the Centre, she ran her own business as an Editor for a local magazine.
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