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April 28th, 2020
Space innovation challenge expands to UK

An Australian space innovation program with the backing of Amazon and Deloitte will be expanded to the United Kingdom this year.

The inaugural Gravity Challenge was held in Adelaide last September attracting 115 innovators across 42 teams. The teams leveraged space data and technologies including AI, Machine Learning, Blockchain, IoT and drones across 12 challenges in a hackathon style event in the South Australian capital.

The 2020 Gravity Challenge will again bring together space thought leaders and businesses across eight industries to collaboratively solve real-world problems using cutting-edge space technology and data.

Deloitte and Amazon Web Services will draw on their capabilities in Australia and the United Kingdom to help accelerate commercial innovation in the space sectors of both countries and encourage greater collaboration between them.

Registrations open today for the Gravity Challenge in the areas of Mining & Energy Resources; Defence, Security & Military; Agriculture and Meteorology; Banking & Insurance; Telecommunications & Connectivity; Health & Life Sciences; Transportation, Logistics & Smart Cities, and; Travel & Tourism.

The South Australian government will continue as a major supporter with Gravity HQ being hosted at the Lot Fourteen innovation precinct, which is also home the Australian Space Agency, the SmartSat CRC and many space industry startups.

The expanded 2020 program will allow challengers (businesses, government agencies and universities) and innovators (startups, entrepreneurs and SMEs) from either Australia or the United Kingdom to work together on new solutions, regardless of geographic location.

It will run across 36 weeks with three phases of equal length: the recruiting of teams and setting of challenges; collaboration between challengers and innovators to develop solutions; and, mentoring and support to commercialise solutions.

South Australian Space Industry Centre Chief Executive Richard Price said the Lot Fourteen neigbourhood in the heart of Adelaide was the ideal location for the event, which had come back “bigger, better and international in 2020”.

“South Australia is a leader in the nation’s space endeavours and we have a thriving space ecosystem of private enterprise, research and educational institutions, consultancies and government departments,” he said.

“The strength of this innovative event is that it stimulates business opportunities by connecting space technology providers with companies to meet today’s needs across a broad range of sectors.

“International collaboration in space technology is a key driver of innovation so the opportunity for participants to collaborate across the nation and the UK makes this year’s challenge incredibly enticing and we look forward to seeing the end solutions.”

Deloitte’s Australian Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer Rob Hillard said the success of the inaugural Gravity Challenge had shown the value of bringing together disparate stakeholders to solve real industry, social and environmental problems.

He said space data and solutions could be applied to almost any industry with last year’s event giving rise to challenges across defence, mining, health, insurance and agriculture.

“This year, we anticipate more challenges around environmental sustainability, emergency management, health, life sciences, travel and tourism – many of those sectors that are doing it particularly tough as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and will perhaps benefit the most from some innovative thinking,” Hillard said.

“The Gravity Challenge is about using space technologies, such as satellite imaging and the internet of things, to solve real world problems happening on Earth today.”

South Australia has been a significant player in the nation’s space industry and is home to major Tier 1 defence companies and several emerging space start-ups, including Fleet Space Technologies, Inovor Technologies and Myriota, which have all announced new Internet of Things initiatives this year. The state is also developing launch capabilities through Southern Launch.

Adelaide is also home to the $245 million Cooperative Research Centre for Smart Satellite Technologies and Analytics (SmartSat CRC), which was announced last year and will play a crucial role in the Federal Government’s goal of tripling Australia’s space economy to $12 billion and create up to 20,000 jobs by 2030.

Head of Innovation at Deloitte Jason Bender said the overwhelming success of the inaugural Challenge last year had inspired an expanded international program in 2020.

“We are doubling the Innovate Phase from six to twelve weeks, to encourage even greater interaction between challengers and innovators across both countries and the extended Pilot Phase reinforces to Innovators the critical importance of commercialising their solutions,” he said.

“We are not just creating science projects here – the Gravity Challenge is a way to leverage the space ecosystem to create new ideas and potentially new jobs that will give a much-needed boost to the Australian and UK economies.

“In the current climate, programs like Gravity are important, as they emphasise a ‘future focus’ in times of crisis. Space is energising, it conjures dreams of going to the moon, of science and technology overcoming unsurmountable problems.

“Space acts as a catalyst to unleash innovative thinking and help create gravity-defying solutions.”

Interested businesses, university or government agency are asked to register interest in the Gravity Challenge by emailing [email protected] by May 31.