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March 17, 2022

ESA and AI Sweden sign letter of intent for first pilot of ESA Φ-labNET

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Building on its experience in fostering transformative innovations aimed at market adoption in the Earth observation (EO) sector, the model of Φ-lab@ESRIN is being replicated across Europe by ESA. Under the leadership of the newly established Directorate of Commercialisation, Industry and Procurement, ESA has signed a Letter of Intent with AI Sweden to set up a pilot development of Φ-lab@Sweden, a collaboration that will develop solutions in the area of Edge Learning in Space.

As part of the Boost Green and Digital Commercialisation priority of its Agenda 2025 strategy, ESA will create a dynamic network of Φ-labs across ESA and Europe. Building on the experience of the existing Φ-lab@ESRIN, with its focus on delivering transformative innovations aimed at market adoption, ESA is adopting an ‘innovate and apply under-one-roof’ approach, teaming up with academia, research centres, national space centres, industry and private investors, including venture capital, to boost disruptive innovation in emerging commercial space domains.

First off the starting blocks is Φ-lab@Sweden, a partnership between ESA and AI Sweden, the Swedish national AI centre. Working hand in hand with ESA Φ-lab@ESRIN and the ESA Advanced Concepts Team, Φ-lab@Sweden will serve as a platform for building advanced European capabilities related to the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) onboard satellites. The collaboration will focus on supporting innovation initiatives, research calls and educational programmes, ultimately leading to rapid knowledge transfer across industry sectors.

“Together AI Sweden and ESA will pursue the strategic goal of ensuring that Europe spearheads Edge Learning innovation in Earth observation technology,” said AI Sweden’s Martin Svensson at the signing ceremony. “By developing capacity and providing an engaging environment, we will stimulate individuals and organisations to work together and contribute to this goal with bold and highly original solutions.”

Géraldine Naja, Director of Commercialisation, Industry and Procurement, signed the agreement on behalf of ESA: “We’re very excited to be getting the first pilot of ESA Φ-labNET off the ground, and I see the partnership as a prime opportunity to collaborate very closely. AI Sweden will grant our researchers access to their resources, and we’ll also share ESA Φ-lab’s knowledge and experience. The agreement is not only mutually beneficial for ESA and AI Sweden, but crucially will also help keep European transformative innovation at the forefront of AI in Space.”

Giuseppe Borghi is head of the ESA Φ-lab@ESRIN division: “We’re very much looking forward to both the launch of Φ-lab@Sweden and the ground-breaking research that it will undoubtedly produce. I’m also extremely glad to contribute to this initiative as a member of their Edge Lab Advisory Group, where we’ll be able to explore synergies and exchange ideas with our colleagues at AI Sweden.”

The inauguration of Φ-lab@Sweden is scheduled to take place in late spring of this year.

To know more: Agenda 2025, AI Sweden, Advanced Concepts Team