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International Cooperation Copernicus – Designing EO downstream applications with international partners


Proposals shall address a wide variety of applications stemming from the use of Earth observation and their smart integration with other related technologies. Copernicus should be considered as part of the solution which may include other space or non-space inputs. This is likely to lead to greater value, opportunities and especially market uptake. Applications shall be sustained by a production process capable of delivering to the user a product which is validated and accepted as a marketable product in the international partner country. International collaboration has a key role to play in this context, as it enhances access to markets beyond the national borders, notably by enabling space application providers to absorb market-related tacit knowledge and know-how of their partners. Corresponding validations and customisations are to be undertaken, and the business case for the application is to be demonstrated. Service level models are to be developed, with appropriate quality of service definitions for the application. Application products are expected to adopt open standards for data documentation, data models and services including data processing, visualisation and cataloguing on a large scale.

Tasks shall include joint calibration and validation activities or integration of local in-situ systems to enhance the quality of data and service products. It is important to exploit the added value of integration of EO observation technologies (both satellite, airborne and ground based) with positioning ones, and ICT (enhancing new frontiers opened by cloud computing) from international partner countries through the development of applications, and encourage their insertion into the market.

The choice of EO application is left to the proposer.

Applicants are advised to consult further information on the availability of Copernicus Sentinel Data, access to Copernicus Contributing Mission data, as well as issues recommended to be detailed in the proposals via the Commission’s Copernicus website[[]].

For proposals under this topic:

  • Participation of at least one partner from a country that has signed a Copernicus Cooperation Arrangement[[See for list of countries concerned]] is required;
  • Participation of industry, in particular SMEs, is encouraged;
  • Involvement of post-graduate scientists, engineers and researchers is encouraged, for example through professional work experience or through fellowships/scholarships as applicable;
  • Participation of partners involved in international GEO initiatives is encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 1 and 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

This topic contributes to the Horizon 2020 focus area ""Digitising and transforming European industry and services"".

Copernicus, the Union's Earth observation and monitoring programme produces a wealth of data and information regarding the Earth sub-systems (land, atmosphere, oceans) and cross-cutting processes (climate change, emergency and security). Cooperation with international partners is key to promoting the uptake of Copernicus globally, exploiting possibilities for integrating in-situ, space data and information technologies. Building the Copernicus full, free and open data policy, the Commission seeks to facilitate access to Copernicus data and information for interested international partners. Administrative cooperation arrangements on Copernicus data access and earth observation data exchange have already been signed with the United States and Australia, and discussions towards similar cooperation have been started with other countries and regions (including Africa, Latin American countries and Asia-Pacific countries).

Cooperation with partner countries should be fostered with a view to using Copernicus data to jointly develop algorithms, services and/or products which serve local user needs and/or enhance the Copernicus global product quality.

Proposals are encouraged to use the Copernicus Data and Information Access Services (DIAS), or other existing data access solutions instead of setting up their own download and processing infrastructure. They are also encouraged to integrate third-party data (including in-situ data) and envisage data assimilation into models and products made available on the Copernicus platform of the Copernicus services..

For such applications and developments to succeed in the market or with public users, the products need to be shaped according to users’ needs and their value to users must be openly demonstrated to the wider user community. This needs to be achieved in an environment integrated at the level of the user, in order for users to accept the innovative potential which the product promises. This will require also specific attention to be given to the various processes in place in the users’ workflows which incorporate the EO information. Furthermore, the transition of R&D product prototypes to viable commercial product lines after the end of the EU funded phase remains a challenge to be addressed early on during product development.

  • Establish sustainable supply chains for innovative EO value added products and services with demonstrated commercial value with international client communities;
  • Complete integration, based on international standards, into the customer’s existing business processes and processing chains, as well as the economic viability of the application is to be demonstrated;
  • Enhance the European industry’s potential to take advantage of market opportunities and establish leadership in the field and to boost business activity;
  • Lead to new or improved products, processes or services on the market that are capable of generating within 3 years after the end of public funding a significant turnover for the participants, and create new jobs;
  • Lead to an improved quality of the Copernicus global product, thereby enhancing the stating of Copernicus data and information in a global environment and GEOSS.