Value of satellite-derived Earth Observation capabilities to the UK Government today and by 2020 – July 2018

Practice area: Space
Client: Innovate UK
Published: 26 July, 2018

London Economics were commissioned by Innovate UK to evidence the current and near-term potential value of satellite-derived Earth Observation (EO) capabilities to the UK government for civil and domestic purposes.

The subsequent value to industry as a supplier of EO data and applications to UK government is also investigated.

Using a combination of desk-based research and consultations with over 60 experts, the following nine use cases were investigated: Agriculture, Atmosphere, Built Environment, Coastal, Forestry, Flooding, Maritime, Meteorology and Transport.


The following findings stand out:

  • EO presents a nascent but buoyant and high growth market, globally;
  • Across the nine use cases examined, the predominant EO use by government is in Meteorology; this represents 90% of the current value derived;
  • Current government use in the other civil use cases is limited, variable and fragmented, if at all;
  • Government users tend to make use of Sentinel data and process it in-house whilst little commercial data and few civil applications are currently procured for operational use;
  • The current government market is fragmented. Findings suggest that there could be benefit from more co-ordination efforts to connect procurers of data and applications to providers;
  • Government could treble direct value gains from greater EO use by 2020, and
  • Ongoing technological developments are driving the potential for EO use and indicate increasing EO value beyond 2020.