Skip to main content

Promoting the internAtional competitiveness of European Remote Sensing companies through Cross-cluster collaboration

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PARSEC (Promoting the internAtional competitiveness of European Remote Sensing companies through Cross-cluster collaboration)

Reporting period: 2019-05-01 to 2020-07-31

The PARSEC Accelerator aims to support “innovation fuelled by Earth Observation” (EO). Earth Observation data and the EO-based services have the potential to exert a huge positive influence on European and global societal, economic, environmental, and industrial challenges. EO is acknowledged to be a key enabling technology for reaching the sustainable development goals by 2030 (Art.76). The EO sector is undergoing rapid changes, spurred by the maturation and convergence of a number of important enabling technologies such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things, big data and artificial intelligence. On top of this, the European Union’s Copernicus programme, operational since 2014 with its dedicated Sentinel satellites, generates over 12 terabytes of data every day, which is freely and openly available. Consequently, Earth Observation presents an enormous opportunity for boosting the productivity, innovation and competitiveness of European SMEs and start-ups. The PARSEC Accelerator was designed to help companies seize this opportunity and apply the technology to address challenges in the emerging food, energy and environment sectors. These high-priority sectors were selected as they increasingly face the need to innovate and efficiently address the rise in food and energy consumption, and the pressure on the environmental sustainability.

The overarching objective of PARSEC – promoting the international competitiveness of European EO companies through cross-cluster collaboration – is to support SMEs to develop new EO-based solutions and to introduce them to the market. To achieve this, the PARSEC consortium – bringing together 9 clusters and SMEs from 7 European countries – has created a holistic two-stage acceleration programme which offers a total of €2.5 Million in equity-free funding alongside coaching, training and market entry support.

The accelerator’s activities are centred around five specific goals. First, PARSEC fosters cross-border and cross-sectoral collaboration, enabling better access to integrated knowledge and inducing SMEs' innovation and entrepreneurship potential. Second, PARSEC designed an innovative Open Call scheme to select excellent teams of SMEs and start-ups which are subsequently supported in delivering EO-based solutions with strong business potential. Third, the selected companies will be provided with a holistic set of support services designed to increase their business success potential and help to bring their EO-based solutions to market. Fourth, PARSEC will deliver three Large Scale Demonstrators – PARSEC Business Catalysts – providing the technological tools for the development of new products and services. Last but not least, PARSEC aims to maximise the impact of its output through well-defined communication and dissemination activities, a tailored innovation and IPR management approach and a robust sustainability strategy.

The holistic support provided to European SMEs through the PARSEC Accelerator is organised around four pillars, which are crucial for the development and commercialisation of new EO-based solutions:
• Access to knowledge
• Access to markets
• Access to technology
• Access to capital
The above elements ensure that PARSEC can have a significant impact on the European Earth Observation sector and achieve its aim: to foster innovation powered by EO in the emerging sectors of Food, Energy, and Environment.
"PARSEC started its activities in May 2019 with the international team collaborating to ensure the quick and successful launch and management of the open calls.
The first PARSEC Open Call lasted from the 20th of September 2019 until the 3rd of January 2020. Initially planned to last exactly three months, the call was extended by two weeks to give the applicants more time to finalise their video pitches during the holiday period. PARSEC successfully attracted 348 applications. What is exceptional about the first Open Call is that all applicants also acted as evaluators through the innovative system of peer-to-peer evaluation. As a result of this process, one hundred beneficiaries were selected. The winners of the first Open Call are called the #100PARSEC.
Cooperation with the beneficiaries kicked off in February 2020, coinciding with the recognition of COVID-19 as a pandemic. This led to the digitalization of the acceleration programme and the re-design of its activities, including the PARSEC Bootcamp which was held online, launching the first stage of the accelerator. The #100PARSEC received the €10.000 in equity-free funding and benefited from support services.
To apply for the Open Call 2 launched in March 2020, companies had to team up and create cross-border and/or cross-sectoral consortia of 2-4 SMEs. To facilitate the creation of international teams in socially-distancing society, an AI-powered matchmaking platform was launched. The platform gave the users a chance to meet potential partners from different countries and sectors and interact with each other. The matchmaking process was supported by online matchmaking events.
The second Open Call closed on the 20th of June 2020, having received sixty applications. After the initial eligibility check, applicants were invited to pitch during the PARSEC Demo Days – a two-day online pitching event. A jury of experts consisting of industrial CEOs, investors and business leaders evaluated the live online pitches using a digital evaluation platform. The fifteen best consortia - called the #15PARSEC - were selected to progress to the second stage of the accelerator. These winning teams received access to funds (up to €50.000 per SME) and to the second stage support services."
"The PARSEC project is expected to have a significant strategic impact due to the importance of coordinated EO activities in Europe. PARSEC is already having a direct impact on European entrepreneurship: among the 100 companies selected in the first stage, 31 of them were newly created. Consortia applying for the Open Call 2 put forward 60 new EO-based solutions. PARSEC is working closely with the #15PARSEC, however the #100PARSEC remain an integral part of the PARSEC Ecosystem and the PARSEC consortium is following their progress and seeking ways to support to them in their journey towards the market.
The main success of the first fifteen months of the project – aside from the high number, quality and diversity of applicants to both Open Calls and the successful support to 100 SMEs despite the degrading COVID-19 situation – was the creation and maintenance of the PARSEC Ecosystem of SMEs, clusters, start-ups and other stakeholders. Furthermore, the PARSEC beneficiaries established strong cross-sectoral and cross-border partnerships, working together within PARSEC and other initiatives fostering EO-based entrepreneurship (e.g. Copernicus Masters, Copernicus Incubator, ESA BICs, e-shape). The PARSEC Accelerator has received very positive feedback from the participants and plans to maintain and strengthen the collaboration demonstrated during the first part of the accelerator. Over the next fifteen months, the project will continue working to build opportunities for its ecosystem and for the EO-based entrepreneurs addressing challenges in the food, energy, and environment sectors."