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Orbital Witness Wins Airbus’ Global Earth Observation Challenge

Orbital Witness executives at the Global Earth Observation Challenge ceremony. Photograph courtesy of Airbus Defence and Space.

Airbus has named Orbital Witness the winner of its “Global Earth Observation Challenge.” It receives a voucher worth €50,000 for the acquisition of satellite data and will benefit from both technical and business coaching. The competition encourages start-ups to innovate and develop new applications primarily based on Airbus’ satellite data. The winning British start-up Orbital Witness proposes to use satellite imagery to provide a new perspective for legal due diligence in real estate.

Launched on May 30, 2017, the goal of the four month challenge was to create added value for new businesses focusing on themes identified as important topics for the global population, ranging from forestry and agriculture to smart cities and maritime.

More than 130 projects from five continents were entered for the competition, among which 23 start-ups were pre-selected based on their originality and relevance as well as their technical and commercial feasibility. These semi-finalists entered a subsequent round in order to further develop the proposals. This ended with a second selection phase in which the six finalists were chosen.

During the final, held on October 20, 2017, at the Airbus PlayLab in Toulouse, France, the six finalists presented their projects in front of representatives of different Airbus departments, including strategy, innovation, and marketing and sales. The other finalists were:

  • 23insights (the Netherlands), which tracks and predicts the human footprint in forests;
  • Ozius (Australia), which creates new landscape intelligence by fusing a variety of remote sensing data to identify where the environmental risks and opportunities occurred in the past, where they are today, and project where they will occur in the future;
  • Ursa Space Systems Inc. (US), which utilizes radar satellite data to deliver global and unbiased economic intelligence to energy and financial enterprises, providing reliable information about areas of the world that are traditionally opaque;
  • Qirate (Italy), which enhances position appeal for boosting business locations and helps people find their ideal place to live by rating the quality of life;
  • Kermap (France), which uses satellite imagery to support the ecological transition of cities.

The runner-up projects also received satellite data vouchers, with €20,000 for 23insights, €15,000 for Ozius, €10,000 for Ursa, and €5,000 for Qirate and Kermap.

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