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News & Events



JULY 2024
JUNE 2024

The WMF innovation event has an intense agenda of expositions, seminars, B2B meetings, networking and entertainment. ESA’s Earth Observation Directorate is a sponsor, and Φ-lab is showcasing its work in the ESA booth and presenting EO start-up competitions on AI and Quantum Computing.

MAY 2024

Organised by Φ-lab and ECMWF, the Machine Learning for Earth System Observation and Prediction workshop explores the impact and challenges deriving from the fusion of traditional Earth System Observation and Prediction (ESOP) techniques with machine learning and deep learning.

APRIL 2024

The European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2024 is being held at the Austria Center Vienna and online. Φ-lab is presenting its work on PhilEO and other foundation model initiatives, along with giving a talk on the Φ-lab-Giga Child Connectivity project.


InCubed will be continuing its support of ReOrbit’s UKKO activity by co-funding the next phase. UKKO is a satellite software stack and avionics bundle for EO satellites, which the Finnish company will now integrate into a custom platform and fly the entire package on an in-orbit demonstration mission carrying an optical payload and optical communication system for satellite-to-satellite and satellite-to-ground links.


AI Week is dedicated to introducing entrepreneurs, managers and start-ups to the possibilities of AI in business. Φ-lab is heavily involved in the event, presenting its work in speeches, round-table discussions and networking sessions, along with a keynote entitled An ‘AI Symphony’ for the planet: AI solutions for Climate Change.

MARCH 2024

A high-performance onboard computer with integrated AI@edge capabilities will be developed under co-funding from ESA InCubed. The brainchild of Slovenian company SkyLabs, the radiation-tolerant HPC 4 AI processor will be optimised for performance versus power consumption and feature multi-unit clustering for maximum flexibility.


The ESA InCubed programme has granted co-funding to Supersharp, enabling the British company to develop SPIRIT, an ultra-compact, high-resolution, wide-field-of-view thermal infrared camera for use by EO operators. SPIRIT imagery will be used to produce heat maps with an unparalleled revisit rate to monitor the energy usage of buildings worldwide.


ESA Φ-lab has released, in partnership with Hugging Face, the first dataset of Major TOM (Terrestrial Observation Metaset), the largest ML-ready collection of Copernicus Sentinel-2 images ever published and covering over 50% of the Earth’s surface. Major TOM is a community-oriented project that allows users to share, use, and combine large EO datasets.


An event in Oslo is bringing together InCubed, NOSA and Norwegian industry. InCubed is presenting its mission and initiatives, along with holding bilateral meetings to discuss possible InCubed support for new activities.


Benedikt Soja, Assistant Professor for Space Geodesy at ETH Zurich, is visiting Φ-lab to give a presentation on how machine learning is transforming geodetic EO, comprising the three pillars of monitoring Earth’s geometry, gravity field and orientation in space.


Φ-lab’s multi-award-winning research on predicting dengue fever outbreaks, carried out in conjunction with UNICEF, is receiving further recognition with a paper detailing the project published in Nature.


InCubed is supporting Spanish company Airbus Crisa in bringing NICE (New Instrument Controller Electronics) to market. NICE is a new generation satellite control unit, and InCubed is co-funding the development of both its power conditioning module and the optical links of the payload controller module.


The deadline for the EO Excellence Award 2024, a prize that recognises and celebrates innovation and outstanding contributions in the field of Earth observation, has been extended to 15 January. This year sees the introduction of a new prize, a research grant of up to €35 000 for the individual winner and up to €65 000 for the winning team, which can be used for a research visit to Φ-lab.


A web application for the detection of illegal construction in sparsely populated areas will be developed under co-funding from ESA InCubed. Conceived by Estonia-based Datel AS, the tool will utilise machine learning algorithms to derive building-related insight from Copernicus Sentinel-1 SAR and land registry records.


Following on from the successful InCubed-supported EO-DDL activity, the programme is now co-funding SENER’s EODDL-LYNX product. Designed for EO satellites, EODDL-LYNX will integrate a payload data transmitter module with an X-band electronically steerable antenna to give a flexible, lightweight and cost-effective data downlink solution.


InCubed is co-funding the High-Performance Computing Edge Extension activity (HPCEX). To be developed by Italian company IngeniArs, HPCEX is a high-end edge processing module for satellites. The unit will be qualified for ESA Class I missions but also adaptable to low-cost commercial satellites.


Φ-lab and Swarm are holding a foundation event to explore the integration of web3 and blockchain technologies into the EO ecosystem. A white paper based on the discussions will be issued in the near future.


With support from InCubed, British start-up Messium will develop an application for monitoring the top-of-canopy Nitrogen concentration for wheat crops. Based on satellite-derived hyperspectral data, the interface will complement in-situ measurements and help in the adoption of variable-rate fertiliser distribution.


The ESA InCubed programme has granted co-funding to HISDESAT, enabling the Spanish company to develop an AI-backed toolbox for the analysis of data from the PAZ satellite. Dubbed ATR4PAZ, the application will aid analysts in the detection, classification and extraction of information on objects of interest from the satellite’s SAR imagery.

19 - 24

Bertrand Le Saux is an invited speaker on the Industry panel at QTML2023 and is speaking about the importance of quantum computing for Earth observation. He is also meeting with CERN colleagues for an update on the QC4EO initiative.

6 - 9

Φ-lab is at Big Data from Space 2023 in Vienna, a major EO event. The team is helping to organise the proceedings, giving a talk on AI for Enhanced Information Extraction, setting an EO dataset challenge and welcoming visitors to the ESA booth.

30 - 31

ESA’s first-ever Earth Observation Commercialisation Forum is taking place at ESA Headquarters in Paris. Investors, institutions, entrepreneurs and companies of any size from the EO sector are coming together to discuss the commercial potential and challenges of Earth observation, together with the technical, industrial and risk-capital support available to European companies. Register here.

25 - 26

Φ-lab has been chosen to represent ESA at San Marino Aerospace 2023, the first event of its kind in the republic. Φ-labbers are presenting at sessions on AI and space technological developments and meeting potential partners in the ESA booth.


As part of their collaborative efforts, Φ-lab and Australian research centre SmartSat are setting up an exchange of researchers. So far two internships have been planned at Φ-lab and one at SmartSat.


Φ-lab is organising a workshop on HPC and Innovative Computing for EO (HPIC4EO) at ESA ESRIN. The event marks the culmination of a Quantum Computing for EO study run with Forschungszentrum Julich, Thales Alenia Space, INFN and IQM.

27 - 28

The Artificial Intelligence Symposium on Theory, Application and Research is an event featuring technical talks, networking and project poster spaces in the fields of research, methods, algorithms and AI applications. Φ-lab’s Pierre Philippe Mathieu is giving a talk on the Rise of AI for Earth Observation.

19 - 21

The 6th Quantum Technology Conference is organised by ESA’s Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality and is taking place this year in Matera in Italy, with a focus on new initiatives and collaborations in quantum technology. Φ-lab’s Bertrand Le Saux is on the organising committee and is chairing a session on quantum computing.

11 - 12

Commercial Space Days is being held in Lucerne in Switzerland. The congress allows leading space companies to meet with key experts in economics, innovation and business in order to discuss entrepreneurship, the space revolution and the next era of space commercialisation. Head of Φ-lab Giuseppe Borghi is attending and presenting the mission and activities of InCubed.

JULY 2023
24 - 28

Φ‑lab’s Casper Fibaek is at the European Summer School on Artificial Intelligence. The event at the University of Ljubljana comprises over 30 courses and tutorials presented on seven parallel tracks. Casper is presenting two sessions, including one on AI4EO and another on flood mapping and impact assessments using Copernicus data sets.

6 - 7

Φ-lab is at the AI for Good Global Summit, a UN platform promoting AI to advance health, climate, inclusive prosperity and other global development priorities. Head of the Explore Office Pierre Philippe Mathieu is speaking at a session on tackling climate change, and AI Ecosystem Manager Sabrina Ricci is presenting an ESA challenge on soil parameter retrieval from hyperspectral data.

JUNE 2023

The ESA InCubed programme has granted co-funding to AIRMO, enabling the German company to develop MicroLIDAR, a satellite with a greenhouse-gas detection payload. MicroLIDAR will allow companies, particularly in the oil and gas sector, to monitor emissions and leaks at their facilities in order to take appropriate action.

15 - 17

We Make Future is at the Rimini Expo Centre in Italy. WMF is an all-encompassing annual event on digital, technological and social innovation. The gathering includes speakers, exhibitions, a B2B meeting area and a start-up competition. Φ-lab is there with its own stand full of exhibits, and Head of the Φ-lab Explore Office Pierre Philippe Mathieu is giving a speech.

MAY 2023
08 - 10

The ESP Forum on AI and EO discusses how the intersection of these two disciplines can create new opportunities for ESA EO activities and assets. The virtual event is organised by ESA Φ-lab together with Oxford University and Trillium.

APRIL 2023
23 - 28

The General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) is at the Austria Center Vienna. Φ-labber Rochelle Schneider dos Santos is chairing a session on Digital Twins of the Earth, alongside representatives from NASA, ECMWF and CNES.


Φ-lab, in collaboration with ECMWF, has an exciting opportunity for an ESA PostDoc research fellowship in Machine Learning for Earth Observation and Prediction (ML4EOP). The successful candidate will exploit the use of innovative EO-based solutions to enhance climate change resilience, with the potential for a second contract with ECMWF if the outcome is successful. Closing date: 12 May 2023.


Thales Alenia Space Italy will develop microDRCE (Digital Radar Central Electronics for Microsatellites) under InCubed co-funding. This highly flexible product will implement all the standard data acquisition modes as part of a configurable SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) sub-150-kg satellite constellation.


German company EOMAP has secured InCubed co-funding for continuing to develop EOSmart, an online solution for Earth observation-based monitoring of water resources. EOSmart transforms satellite-derived data into actionable insights that water managers can integrate into their routine operations.

MARCH 2023

ESA Φ-lab and We Make Future have got together to launch the AI4EO call. The initiative is aimed at supporting applications of AI in Earth observation and aerospace, with a focus on highlighting the importance of these sectors for economic and cultural development and the protection of terrestrial ecosystems. Closing date: 5 May.


The OrbitalAI Challenge has been launched. This two-track competition gives participants the chance to explore the cutting-edge possibilities of in-orbit data processing and its potential to drive progress in Earth’s sustainability, business, industry and science. One track is based on ESA’s Φ-sat-2 mission and the other on a smart imaging system to be installed externally on the ISS in collaboration with Thales and Microsoft.


The first InCubed thematic call has been launched on the topic of Cultural and Natural Heritage. Companies are invited to submit promising business ideas for developing EO-related products and services that address challenges in this domain, with a particular focus on coastal areas. Deadline: 31 March 2023.


Beyond Gravity Sweden has signed an InCubed contract for co-funding the development of RoccS, a commercial radio occultation data service. Based on a GRAS-2 sensor on ESA’s MetOp-SG constellation, RoccS will sell atmospheric data to customers in the fields of weather forecasting and climate monitoring.