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European-funded FIRE project concludes with the presentation of the strategic research and development roadmaps and discussions on the future of Earth Observation innovation

  • Posted on: 08 Feb 2023
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Brussels, 8 February 2023

For the third edition of the FIRE Forum in 2023 – the culmination of the project – FIRE gathered industry professionals, Earth Observation experts and policy and market development executives from European institutions. During a series of six events (1-3 February 2023), they discussed the Research & Development Roadmap for each of the six FIRE focus sectors and the way forward for the future of innovation of European Earth Observation before an audience of 432 attendees representing 300 entities and 56 countries.

The event, yet again, highlighted the important potential of Earth Observation (EO) data and technology, including the benefits of ‘more EO’ when tackling the various challenges faced by the six focus industries – agriculture, infrastructure, marine & maritime, raw materials, urban development and wind energy. Speakers identified opportunities to support key policies with solutions in existence or achievable in the short- to mid-term, admitting that application of sophisticated technology is not always required and can rather be counterproductive. Instead, being accurate and clear about what EO data and technology can achieve is crucial for long term fruitful collaborations between EO experts and professionals of other sectors – ‘EO users’.

In line with the values and goals implemented throughout the project, users remained in the spotlight of the discussions. Seasoned professionals highlighted changes in user profiles over time, with EO data now being increasingly more widely used by managerial and strategic users, not only by technical professionals addressing operational needs. To this end, it was crucial that downstream market development officers from the EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) were prominently present during the FIRE discussions, highlighting both the ongoing work of the agency when it comes to involving users (e.g. via the User Consultation Platform), but, also, the alignment of the goals of the agency and needs identified within the sectoral roadmaps.

Overall, the FIRE team was delighted to receive positive feedback concerning the value of the work done. Doris Marquardt from DG AGRI emphasized how the FIRE experience could contribute to the implementation and further development of the new and future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), including aspects such as policy performance assessment. Looking forward, speakers were invited to reflect on the next steps and how elements highlighted in the roadmap may soon be, or are already being taken into account within the strategies and work programmes of the institutions represented at the event.

Many of the discussion points were transversal across all FIRE sectors, for instance, the green transition and sustainability of each sector, bridging the gap between EO data/service providers and sectoral users, or the role of EO in the development of Digital Twins. Multiple sessions discussed the digital transition and how it cannot be taken for granted that all users have acquired the newest technological skills and capabilities, especially in more conservative or complex industries where change may progress slowly. In addition, issues such as a general shortage of technical and IT skills were highlighted.

Some aspects, similarities and interactions appeared linking more closely the issues of some of the sectors, e.g. marine spatial planning used for marine and wind energy sectors, or social acceptance as a crucial aspect for wind energy and raw materials. In both cases, a clear role of EO was put forward. Furthermore, individual sessions complemented these topics by highlighting particularities and issues facing each sector.

One of the next important steps identified during multiple sessions by professionals from FIRE target sectors as well as the EO industry was the need for moving from discussions to concrete collaborative actions, bringing EO and sectoral industries around a common research and development project solving an identified problem. Helen Roth (VIA cluster)for Infrastructure and Lars Landberg (DNV – Energy Systems, ETIPWind, WindEurope), representing the Wind Energy industry, both emphasised the value of such projects in ensuring the most advanced and efficient EO solutions in tackling sector challenges.

Download the full FIRE roadmap.

In the table below, find the full list of recordings of each of the six FIRE Forum 2023 sessions and the digital version of each of the sectoral roadmaps developed by FIRE:

 Wed, 1 Feb 2023Thu, 2 Feb 2023Fri, 3 Feb 2023
Morning session
10:00-12:00 CET
Roadmap (PDF)
Urban development Recording
Roadmap (PDF)
Wind energy
Roadmap (PDF)
Afternoon session 14:00-16:00 CETRaw materials Recording
Roadmap (PDF)
Roadmap (PDF)
Marine & Maritime Recording
Roadmap (PDF)