‘Space is Open for Business’ seminar overview

The ‘Space is Open for Business’ seminar took place in Helsinki on 1 September 2015.
The main goal of the seminar was to represent opportunities with space assets, especially for companies dealing with smart traffic and industrial internet applications.

The event was organized by The European Space Agency, Finnish Industrial Internet Forum, Finnish Location Information Cluster, Intelligent Transport System, Tekes, and was assisted by Geowise Ltd.

 

The event started at 13:00 with a welcoming speech by the seminar host Markku Ihonen, of The Federation of Finnish Technology Industries  and Kimmo Kanto of  Tekes. Mr. Kanto mentioned that Tekes has been promoting ‘downstream’ applications for new business possibilities since 2004, but no real actions have been taken thus far. However, in Finland, especially in the arctic area, there is potential for space data-related actions.

The first presentation was given by Mr. Ville Mickelsson, a veteran innovator of the Internet of Things and the CEO of Cyberlightning Ltd. Cyberlightning is an interesting start-up that combines the 3D Internet with real world visualization and big data analytics to drive breakthrough applications for managing the Industrial IoT.

Mr. Mickelsson gave the audience an insight into the future of multifarious Internet usage for the industrial sector. Local optimization, distributed intelligence and ‘Internet of everything’ were among  the topics of Mickelsson’s speech.

Next, on the agenda was Francesco Feliciani of ESA, who presented how the European Space Agency cooperates with companies, and helps them to reach the market. According to Mr. Feliciani, there are a lot of opportunities in space, and a lot of possibilities to bring them ‘down to earth’. ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) programme is dedicated to creating a bridge connecting companies (developers) to markets (customers).  Small-sized companies may be somehow uncomfortable or hesitant in contacting a large-scale organization like ESA, but there is no reason for doubting – because more than 50% of ESA’s contracts are done with SME’s and many of them are newcomers. “Newcomers are very much welcomed!” added Massimo Crisci, also of  ESA. An Outline Proposal is the first step to approach ESA, and is the key to the process for preparation of a project. “Basically we need to understand your business idea”, said Mr. Feliciani. Mr. Jorge Monteverde (ESA) also contributed by answering questions from the audience.

The seminar continued with guest speaker Alan McLarney, an astronautics and aeronautics professional from the United Kingdom. He leads the technical team at Astrosat Ltd, the front-runner for the commercialisation of the space sector. Mr. McLarney spoke about space-data usage in smart industries.

Michelle Le Saux, of  ESA, spoke about ‘Position matters: GNSS User products and technologies’. Satellite navigation is focused on technology and products. GNSS satellite constellations are related typically in actions like banking systems, power, transportation and navigation, communication, safety and security, gaming, cloud computing, etc.
GNSS accelerates the technological change – it is said that one trillion machines, and 3-5 billion humans will be connected to Internet by 2020.

After the networking break, Sampo Hietanen, of ITS-Finland, gave his presentation on the advantages of technology to transport, a significant market area that comes right after housing; the automotive field cries for digitalization. Mr. Hietanen has been the first person to introduce the concept ‘Mobility as a Service’, MAAS, a paradigm to upgrade the level of transportation service offerings. The future vision is that transport systems will become a consumer business, where there would be more shared transport utilities as well as an ‘Internet of Traffic’.

The sixth presentation was given by Mr. Tero Heinonen, founder and CEO of Sharper Shape Ltd, the global leader in UAV based automatic inspection. Mr. Heinonen started his presentation in a humorous manner, resulting in joint laughter from the audience. Sharper Shape has carried out a project with ESA (SharperSAT), and Tero shared his experience of working with ESA as a start-up. According to him, the contractual structure is quite heavy, but ESA was highly cooperative, having a supportive attitude and a good understanding of everyday life and realities of a start-up.

Mr. Heinonen highlighted that ESA is an expert and developer partner and should not be taken as a financer. Tero briefly shared the following advice:
•    Need money? Seek an investor!
•    Allocate one person to coordinate the project and do the paper work – a lot of writing and reporting comes with a project.

Prof. Heidi Kuusniemi, Director the Department of Navigation and Positioning of the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute (FGI), then gave the audience insight into the opportunities with reliable navigation technologies. Her speech included the highlights of FGI studies related to positioning technologies – GPS-positioning is getting augmented by visual & acoustic positioning, and some of the future’s most feasible technologies would be Multi-GNSS, self-contained sensors, back-ups for GNSS (magnetic fields, landmarks) – that reliability is important and that navigation must work seamlessly both indoors & outdoors.

Seppo Hellsten, of the Finnish Environment Institute, gave the final presentation concerning the needs to monitor surface waters around the mining sites. Monitoring the reactive waters is considered important keeping in mind the consequences of the Talvivaara mining accident. Soon after this accident, Mr. Hellsten, who has been working as a hydro biologist for 30 years, was invited to give a speech in the Finnish parliament about this very topic.

The seminar was highly successful, with approximately 77 active participants asking  very good questions for the speakers. Pertti Woitsch of Geowise moderated the discussions after each presentation. At 16.40, Miranda Saarentaus of Geowise, who is the Advisor for ESA IAP Ambassador Platform Finland concluded the seminar. The participants & speakers continued with relaxed networking and snacks.