ConnectEO 2nd interview: Florencio Utreras (University of Chile)

Don’t miss the second ConnectEO interview with Florencio UTRERAS from the University of Chile

Mr. FLORENCIO UTRERAS has been involved in Research Networking since 1987 and has been awarded several national and international prizes for his contribution to the dissemination of Internet technology. In this interview he presents the suitable sector in Chile for Earth observation products and services, such as, agriculture, mining, urbanization, environmental monitoring and marine/maritime sectors; he also highlights the use of Copernicus data in Chile and the main activities of the Copernicus Chile Alliance and as the National Hub for Copernicus in Chile, Let’s discover more details about the interview.

Mr. UTRERAS works for the centre of mathematical modelling of the University of Chile, they develop mathematics with applications to industrial sectors in general. In the last 5 years Mr. Utreras has been involved in Earth observation activities, in particular in the use of satellite data for different industrial applications.

What are the sectors and the services in Chile that are suitable for using space technologies?

Chile is a country that covers a wide latitude range with an important diversity of landscapes giving the industries a lot of opportunities, the desert, the “cordillera de los Andes”, the mountains and the sea. Chile has a very long coast which offers a strong development to the marine/maritime sectors, surveillance of the ocean, monitoring of the marine currents, algae blooms and other phenomenon are suitable for Earth observation. Sensoring of the sea is a very complicated issue, specially with a long coast as in Chile’s case, that’s why interesting opportunities could raise within this sector.

Another important sector in Chile is mining, about the 30% of the GPD (Gross Domestic Product) is mining, mostly cupper but also gold and other metals.

Agriculture is another key sector, since the country export relevant quantities of food, notably, during the summertime in the south hemisphere. From the south of the country with forestry to the north with wine production. Another outstanding sector are urban monitoring and air pollution.

Regarding the space sector, in the last 15 years the country has experienced a strong development in Earth observation and remote sensing technologies, notably, an internal study in 2019 showed that the sector will grow 50%, which represents a lot of opportunities, more stakeholders getting interesting and defining more needs that could be addressed by the EO sector.

 What are your activities regarding the Copernicus data?

There are several activities supported by the University of Chile concerning the Copernicus programme:

  1. Dissemination: The University of Chile is part of a national consortium devoted to dissemination of the use of Copernicus data (The Copernicus Chilean Alliance). The partners are from other universities, research centres and the industry. This Alliance promote the use of Copernicus data by doing seminars, talks, share of experiences, use cases, link research-industry, conferences, hackathons (the next one is on early May/2021).
  2. National Hub for Copernicus data. A centre where the Copernicus data is downloaded from the satellites (sentinel 1 and 2 for now and upcoming sentinel 3 and 5. The idea is to store de data and give access to the general public without any constraint, free and open.

Amongst the applications, we can find environmental monitoring, geology monitoring, volcano surveillance and others. The use of this stored data has been growing, in the last year the number of users increased 50%, Mr. Utreras thinks that the use of Copernicus in the industrial sector is taking speed and him and the University of Chile are very proud to be a part of this.

There are any partnerships between Europe funding and Chilean industries?

The Chilean academic and industrial sector have some experience in European opportunities, such as, Horizon 2020 and other European programmes. The organisation EuroChile has a strong expertise in promoting this kind of alliances for instance.

Regarding the space sector, he thinks it is still an early stage for strong partnership between Chile and Europe, nevertheless, some joint projects have been funded and notably, the Galileo centre which is an European-Chilean association for the promotion of Galileo Data.

For next stages, he mentions the importance of raising awareness about the European funding and EU stakeholders in the space sector in order to develop partnerships in the near future.

Do you any advice for SMEs to develop European and Chilean partnerships?

Mr. Utreras highlights the relevance of organisations that promote international cooperation, as EuroChile. Also, the important role of space communities as the Copernicus relay, lead by the University of Chile where Chilean and EU stakeholders can know each other and cooperate, moreover, Mr. Utreras expresses its will of helping EU companies interested in the Copernicus data in Chile.

In general, he said that there is a lot of opportunities in developing applications and services in a lot of areas where remote sensing is becoming important in Chile, Agriculture, mining, water resources, environment, amongst others, so there is a market eager to access, to explore the EO opportunities and the way to address each sector challenges.

There are a lot of companies and young people willing to work in this sector, Mr. Utreras is confident in the new generations of technologies and people in Chile and Europe that could team up and build good services and products.

Do not miss the entire interview below!