About ESA

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. To contribute to the success of Copernicus ESA is exploiting its 35 years of expertise in space programme development and management. While the Copernicus programme is politically led by the European Union (EU), ESA is the overall coordinator of the Copernicus Space Component and will, inter alia, ensure the uninterrupted delivery of data from the Copernicus Sentinel satellites and from an important number of Copernicus Contributing Missions at national, European, and international level.

About Copernicus

Copernicus is the most ambitious Earth observation programme to date. It will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security. The Copernicus initiative is led by the European Commission (EC) in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA), and the European Environment Agency (EEA). As the overall coordinator of the Copernicus Space Component, ESA is responsible (among a variety of other areas) for user access to data from the Copernicus Sentinels and more than 30 other Earth observation satellites. The EEA, meanwhile, coordinates access to data from airborne and ground sensors. The EC, acting on behalf of the European Union, is responsible for the overall initiative, defining requirements, and managing the Copernicus services. With the successful launch of Sentinel-1A on 3 April 2014 Copernicus has entered into its operational phase. Other Sentinels followed into space over the past years and, together with data from the Copernicus Contributing Missions at national, European, and international level, they serve users with satellite data in an uninterrupted and timely fashion. Copernicus provides a unified system through which vast amounts of data, acquired from space and from a multitude of in-situ sensors, are fed into a range of thematic information services designed to benefit the environment, the way we live, humanitarian needs and support effective policymaking for a more sustainable future. In essence, Copernicus will help shape the future of our planet for the benefit of all. ESA is contributing by providing a proven framework for the development of operational systems on behalf of the user community, paving the way for investment in future generation systems. ESA is exploiting its 30 years of expertise in space programme development and management to contribute to the success of Copernicus.


About ESA’s Φ-Lab

ESA’s Φ-Lab mission is to accelerate the future of Earth Observation (EO) by means of transformational innovations, i.e., innovations that completely transform or create entire industries via new technologies, with the aim to strengthen the world-leading competitiveness of the European EO industrial and research sectors.

The ESA Φ-lab is a Division in the Future Systems Department of the EO Programmes Directorate. The Φ-lab is based in ESA-ESRIN in Frascati (Italy), and counts about 25 members amongst ESA staff, research fellows, Academia and Industry Visiting Researchers, and Visiting Professors.

To achieve its mission, Φ-lab manages the full range of the innovation pipeline: discover new transformational ideas, select and nurture the good ones, develop the corresponding “solution” or product by maturing and testing it, and finally we invest in the best ones via the InCubed programme to reach market adoption.

The Φ-lab is a catalyst for Earth Observation innovative and transformative ideas, and a bridge within Earth Observation’s ecosystem of innovative players which connects the actors of Industry, Investors, and Academia to foster entrepreneurial initiatives.

The Φ-lab is organised into two offices, the Explore Office mainly focused in generating innovation from inside and outside ESA and managing the initial part of the innovation pipeline, while the Invest Office takes the generated and discovered innovations to the market via the Invest Actions and the InCubed co-funding programme.

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