The alarming levels of spread and severity of COVID-19 have led the World Health Organization to declare COVID-19 a pandemic outbreak. Italy is currently the most affected country in the world.
ESA launches today the announcement of funding “Space in response to COVID-19 outbreak” in collaboration with the Italian Minister for Technological Innovation and Digitalisation and the support of the Italian Space Agency and other countries.
Through the announcement, ESA is inviting companies to submit their ideas for deploying and demonstrating services to respond to the emergency that Europe, and especially Italy, is facing because of the spread of the coronavirus.
The call will facilitate the emergence of projects dedicated to the implementation and demonstration of pre-operational services addressing the topics of healthcare or education.
“We are keen to support European companies in developing and deploying their best ideas to respond to the current crisis, evidencing the contribution that space can bring in these circumstances,” said Magali Vaissiere, ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications.
“A fast-track approach has been put in place to respond to the impellent needs of citizens and institutions. We are pleased to work with the Italian Minister of Innovation and Digitalisation to launch the initiative in Italy and reach out to local communities.”
Paola Pisano, Minister for Technological Innovation and Digitalisation, commented: “We are facing a global emergency that has highlighted the importance of digital technologies and data; the power of innovation is even more evident.
“In this moment, priority goes to the development of common international strategies within the public and private sector, and research institutions. ESA, the Italian Space Agency and the Undersecretary to the Presidency of the Council with responsibility for space, Riccardo Fraccaro, are joining their efforts to win this battle.”
The possible application areas have been coordinated with stakeholders, such as the Italian Ministry of Education, and discussed with the Italian Space Agency, which has relevant competence and expertise acquired thanks to specific national initiatives.
“We believe that, in this emergency, space, now more than ever, has to be put at the service of everyone. This is why we have proposed and eventually supported this announcement of opportunity, granting ESA the authorisation to finance the activities of Italian companies for €2.5 million in addition to free satellite capacity if requested and needed by the demonstration projects,” said Giorgio Saccoccia, President of the Italian Space Agency.
The proposed services shall demonstrate the benefit provided by the utilisation of space-assets (such as satellite communications, Earth observation, satellite navigation or human spaceflight technologies) integrated with other innovative technologies to respond to the current extraordinary circumstances. These services shall be deployed in Italy for local communities and can additionally be demonstrated in other geographical areas and countries, which are facing similar exceptional challenges.
Additional information can be found at business.esa.int/funding/invitation-to-tender/space-response-to-covid-19-outbreak.
For further information please contact:
Dr Rita Rinaldo
Head of the Institutional Projects Section
Downstream Business Applications Department