Digital society and satellite applications: successful business cases

Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK


 Conclusions and recommendations

 The “Digital society” concerns a wide variety of themes, stakeholders and businesses.

The digital sector is rapidly growing and transforming our daily life. It especially represents a spearhead of development, growth and jobs at the European and national scales.

The conference highlighted the diversity of digital society issues, stakes, economic players and stakeholders. In terms of themes, digital society covers future cities as well as education, gaming, tourism or entertainment. In each sector, a variety of stakeholders and players exist (from city planners to start-ups, city councils, developers or even artists, facing various daily challenges and operational needs. Moreover, the business models supporting the development of innovative digital services –especially those relying on satellite applications- are different from one to another and there is not one dedicated business model.


There are obvious bridges between satellite applications and the digital business; they should be made more visible

The success stories featured in three parallel thematic sessions demonstrated that the use of satellite applications, combined with digital technologies, make possible the development of innovative services, in a wide variety of application fields.

The good practices featured during the conference demonstrated the complementarities between satellite applications and digital economy and society. For instance, satellite navigation is useful in the development of innovative services and mobile applications relying on visual technologies – such as 3D modelling and augmented reality – and requiring an accurate positioning signal. Moreover, examples showed that even cartography and satellite images are now used in less traditional ways, for instance to enable creation of artworks. Finally, satellite communications are essential in a digitalised society: robust, resilient and allowing the transfer of a wide amount of data, they help tackle the digital divide and can support the distribution of contents for entertainment and education.

Raising awareness about the existence and the potential of satellite-based services is important to support the creation of new services and products in these sectors.

ð  The links between digital society and satellite applications are not obvious for the heterogeneous ecosystem of the digital society. Local and regional networks could encourage SMEs and Local authorities to make the most of satellite capabilities, making the complementarities and bridges between satellites and digital society more visible.


Geospatial information services should be made more readily available and accessible for stakeholders

The discussions highlighted that end users – whether entrepreneurs, SMEs or local and regional authorities –, who are outside the space community face difficulties in identifying the readily accessible or adequate service or data to address their needs. The audience highlighted the absence of a single mechanism that would create links between end-user needs and suitable service providers.

In addition, discussions revealed that the core services provided by the EU (such as Copernicus core services) were targeted at institutional users and were generally not suitable for direct use by SMEs and local and regional authorities end-users.

ð  Concerted efforts in pro-active networking must be done at local and regional levels. Decision-makers and stakeholders should focus on enhancing working relationships between users and satellite applications providers.

ð  The development of a new generation of innovative digital services and products should be enhanced by the new possibilities provided by the Galileo and Copernicus, Europe’s space flagship programmes, as well as by satellite communication capacities, in terms of data, high-accuracy positioning and navigation and communication

ICT and digital SMEs are able to create businesses and to grow by using satellite services. They need dedicated support

Satellite applications can be used successfully in emerging, fast-growing and high value-added sectors. SMEs are yet still insufficiently aware of the potential of satellite applications to provide them with competitive advantages in terms of improving their products and services.

ð  Non-space SMEs and entrepreneurs should be encouraged to leverage satellite applications in developing innovative digital services and products. Space agencies and service providers should provide SMEs with success stories and concrete examples of what is achievable and available to help them enhance and develop business, in terms of value for money.

The success stories featured during the conference showed that satellite applications provide competitive advantages to digital and ICT SMEs and entrepreneurs, enabling them to enter new markets by developing and offering services to users such as local and regional authorities involved in urban planning, media channels and museums or education facilities. Satellite applications are a fast track to innovation. SMEs are flexible and can rapidly take the opportunities to adapt their offer to the demand, but at the same time, they may lack funds, time and technical resources.

ð  In order to gain a competitive edge, SMEs need an increased support from national and European levels in a less complex framework. SMEs should be increasingly supported in their search of available financial sources, especially when their business.


SMEs should be better informed of existing support programmes.

Many EU and national programmes support the development of innovative services based on satellite applications, by helping LRAs and SMEs to access data, partners or funds. For instance ESA’s TTP and IAP, the Business Incubation Centers, SatApps Catapult, Business Angels or Galileo and Copernicus Masters competitions have been proven to be very effective.

Discussions revealed that in spite of their availability, the existing support mechanisms are not well-enough known by SMEs and LRAs wishing to explore the opportunities of satellite applications for digital society. SMEs and entrepreneurs can face difficulties in finding the way to available support mechanisms and funds.

ð  Organisations supporting SMEs at regional and local levels need to provide concise and practical information on the existing thematic support mechanisms and on how to access them to use satellite services.

ð  Decision-makers national European level should keep investing in the promotion of the opportunities they bring to the SMEs.

ð  When promoting these initiatives, information dissemination on successful projects demonstrating viable business cases and taking into account user requirements are likely to be most effective.

 The conclusions and recommendations are available on PDF format on this link