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From the stars to agriculture, all the R&D opportunities arising from the Space sector

Yann Poulain

Yann Poulain


The market for Earth observation data and services is estimated to be 5.5 billion € by 2032. Currently, more than 10% of the EU GDP depends on satellite navigation, hence also your activity may be indirectly linked with space technologies.

This sector relies in Europe on three main components: Galileo, the European Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), providing standalone navigation, positioning and timing information (PNT) to users worldwide; EGNOS, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service, to improve the performance (e.g. accuracy) of GNSSs, such as GPS and Galileo; and Copernicus, the European Union’s Earth Observation (EO) and Monitoring programme.

Many public funding opportunities are linked with these space components at EU-level, especially in Horizon Europe Pillar II programme. In the new 2023-2024 Work Program, which should be published during Summer 2022, it is expected topics to expand the first biannual period, integrating opportunities for these three main components research and innovative actions but also improve the access to space and competitiveness in EU.

Space technologies are everywhere in Horizon Europe

Over 222M€ of funding is planned for Space Destination 5 in Cluster 4 in 2021-2022 and the success rate is around 30% (a total of 185 projects were submitted for 54 expected projects funded), much higher than many other sectors/technologies addressed within the Horizon Europe programme.

Yet, Space technologies and components are not only addressed under specific and dedicated Space calls within the pillar II of Horizon Europe – Cluster 4 but also present in all the five other Clusters. Among them, calls from Clusters 3 (Civil Security for Society) and 5 (Climate, Energy and Mobility) are still open this year.

For example, a dozen of Cluster 3 calls, with deadline on 23rd November 2022, may involve Earth observation with the use of Galileo/EGNOS/Copernicus data, services and technologies for several applications: surveillance of public space, protection of maritime areas, anticipation of unexpected events, easier deployment of first responders in vulnerable areas, etc.

Likewise, several opportunities exist in Cluster 5 / Destination 6 Safe, Resilient Transport and Smart Mobility services for passengers and goods, in relation with new data-based mobility solutions such as digitalisation of urban freight, shared mobility services, anticipation of disruptive event on transport and logistics (Deadlines: 6th Sept 2022 and 10th January 2023).

Applications and space-related services

The use of EU space components is expected for satellite-based Earth observation, positioning, navigation and/or related timing data and services. Several applications already exist such as 2,5 billion of Galileo-enable smartphones; EGNOS, mainly used for civil aviation (more than 350 airports) and agriculture (97% of new tractors in EU for optimization); and Copernicus, which largely meets the needs of EU States in terms of climate, seas, fisheries or forests.

To do so, several services (free of charge) are, or will be, offered by Galileo to develop new downstream applications: Open Service for positioning and services or a High Accuracy Service supplying additional navigation signal and an Emergency Warning Service regarding natural disasters or other emergencies (e.g. on-demand broadcast, geo-location information to target only the population affected). An open navigation message authentication (OS-NMA) to deliver authentication of specific Galileo data (additional security layer) and detect certain spoofing attacks is planned for 2023. They may offer added value for new downstream applications.

Finally, dedicated opportunities for SME, as single applicant, also exist with EIC Accelerator in Pillar III (next deadlines: 15th June 2022 & 5th October 2022). In details, two specific space opportunities are targeted: Innovative applications making use of data and signals from EU space infrastructures (Galileo and Copernicus) and Development of space technologies (in-orbit demonstration or validation, satellite navigation, Earth and ocean observation, telecommunication, etc.).

More opportunities in Space area

Besides Horizon Europe, the use of satellite technologies, although not explicitly mentioned, may be also relevant to serve the purposes of projects presented under other programmes such as LIFE (e.g. land monitoring, extreme weather events analysis, pollutants identification on land) and EMFF (e.g. remote monitoring of ships/vessels).

If you seek more concrete and direct examples of downstream applications to check if your business or activities are space-related, Zabala Innovation can help you to look into EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) EO and GNSS Market Report, Issue 1, 2022 in which you will find many details on 17 potential market segments. You can discover existing funded projects thanks to our Kaila tool.

So, if you are using satellite data or are interested to their application in your sector, Horizon Europe but also the whole EU Space Programme can be of your interest. Zabala Innovation, well-known expert in public funding, can help you to identify relevant European funding opportunities, define specific use cases tailored to sectoral needs and challenges, and guide you in understanding how to access such opportunities. Reach out to us to discover more!

Expert person

Yann Poulain
Yann Poulain

Bordeaux Office


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