European universities are being encouraged through an EU-funded initiative to set up platforms to boost innovation and co-creation around the use of geo-data and other space-based applications. Their uses range from satellite navigation, geo-mapping and renewable energy to agriculture planning and other areas.
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Space programmes have a long history of inspiring spin-off technologies, from Teflon-coated kitchenware to medical scanning and monitoring tools. Today, advances in Earth Observation (EO), geo-data processing and satellite-based applications have opened the door to a wave of innovations in business, farming, energy exploration, water management, climate science, urban development, and more.
Using EO and sat-nav data, for instance, farmers can optimise whole growing seasons from planting, fertilising and irrigating to harvesting with much greater precision. Creative use of geo-data combined with geological surveys could provide better seismic planning tools, or more accurate mapping for waterways, pipelines, wind turbine placement, or other infrastructure.
But managing and making sense of all the space-based data takes time, computing power, and a large dose of imagination. An EU-funded initiative, called FabSpace 2.0, has been created to provide students, researchers, citizens, companies, NGOs and others with open co-working and networking facilities inside universities, as well as a platform granting access to geo-and space-based data. The project also supports students in acquiring the skills needed to co-create new digital applications and enhance creativity.
The projects goal is to transform participating universities into open centres of innovation, and to leverage space data for socio-economic and environmental benefits.
FabSpaces act as co-creation hubs attracting talented app designers and developers from different walks of life, including industry, civil society, public administrations and academia. In its first year, the project has launched a number of FabSpace challenges, such as using geo-data to tackle famine, and finding better ways of identifying forest and vegetation cover.
By the end of the project in 2019, up to 13 FabSpaces should be in place. In total, 1 500 students and researchers are expected to use FabSpaces during the three-year progra11e.
Training in innovation leadership, bootcamps, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), entrepreneurship pilot actions, networking opportunities and cross-sector tie-ups are all important to the projects success as a one-stop shop for geo-data-driven co-creation and innovation, according to the team.