Earth-i, one of Europe’s most prominent New Space companies, has been awarded a grant of £2.7 million from the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme, which supports UK space firms tackling global challenges.
The grant will enable Earth-i to launch the ACCORD programme in Kenya and Rwanda. ACCORD has been specifically developed to help smallholder coffee farmers in Africa improve crop quality and yield. It combines Earth-i’s very high-resolution satellite imagery with WeatherSafe’s data platform to provide extensive crop, weather and pest analysis - and shares the information via a mobile app.
ACCORD will enable farmers to identify where more water, fertiliser or pesticides are needed to address unpredictable weather, pests, diseases, nutrient depletion or other factors which reduce coffee quality and quantity.
ACCORD evolved from work carried out by Earth-i and Weathersafe in Burundi. Together the two companies performed surveys of Burundi coffee farms using very high-resolution satellite data, conducted crop yield analysis and developed bespoke web applications to deliver the results of this analysis.
The ACCORD project was one of only ten programmes to receive funding as part of a joint initiative between the Government’s Industrial Strategy and the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme, which uses UK space expertise to deliver innovative solutions to real world problems across the globe.
Richard Blain, CEO of Earth-i, said “Coffee is the second most traded commodity globally and vitally important to the economies of some of the poorest countries in the world. Agriculture is just one of a multitude of sectors where our imagery – and the insights drawn from those images – is improving lives on Earth.”
Science Minister Sam Gyimah said: “The UK’s space sector is going from strength to strength. It pioneers new technology and provides jobs for 40,000. Today I can announce that the space sector’s capabilities are being put to use to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges.
“The UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme will help developing countries tackle big issues like disaster relief and disease control, while showcasing the services and technology on offer from our leading space businesses.”
Today’s news follows January’s successful launch of Earth-i’s VividX2 satellite, a service demonstrator for the Vivid-i Constellation, the world’s first full-colour, full-motion video satellite constellation.
The new commercial constellation will be the first of its kind to provide full-colour video; and the first European-owned constellation able to provide both video and still images.
Vivid-i will be a major leap forward for the Earth Observation industry significantly increasing the ability of companies and institutions to monitor, track and analyse activities, patterns of life and changes at any location on Earth. It will provide a number of innovative capabilities including:
· The provision of high-frame rate images with resolutions better than one metre for any location on Earth.
· The ability to film moving objects such as vehicles, vessels and aircraft in Ultra High Definition colour video.
· Revisiting the same location multiple times per day with agile satellites that can be pointed to image specific areas of interest.
· Rapid tasking of satellites to take images or video, and fast data download within minutes of acquisition.
Footage will be available for analysis within minutes of being captured and will improve decision-making and response times in a wide variety of scenarios from change detection to object identification, from disaster response to infrastructure monitoring.