With the continuous increase from 2006 in the number of companies, employees and revenues, the Earth Observation (EO) sector is dynamic. Over the last two years, the Earth observation sector has evolved significantly, bringing new trends to the surface both for the upstream (e.g constellations of satellites) and the downstream (e.g. use of the cloud to acquire and new approaches to process data). In the context of the growing demand, the Earth observation market presents a continuity in most of the biggest market sectors but also some changes. Please note that numbers from Canada have not been captured this year to improve the overview of the EU market which does not allow a direct comparison of numbers published in 2017.


  • 515 companies: compared to the 460 European companies in 2016


  • 8396 employees: compared to the 6920 European employees in 2016.


  • €1.248 m revenues: continuous growth rate with similar value since 2006.

EARSC industry report 19


The European Earth observation industrial landscape highlights healthy growth. If several companies do no longer exist, from going out of business to merging with other companies, the increased total number of companies illustrates the creation of numerous new companies when compared to the previous survey. The distribution of companies by size is quite stable. The Earth observation sector is composed of about two-third of micro-companies and 1% of large companies. Nevertheless, the survey indicates a small shift from Small to Medium size companies, although this needs to be confirmed. The Earth observation sector created about 1500 jobs in Europe from 2017 and 78% of companies expect an increase in the next 12 months.


Revenues and Markets

The total sector revenues for 2018 is €1,248m which represents a similar growth rate since 2006. “Defense and Security” is the most flourishing market and presents a significant growth from around 20% in 2016 to 30% in 2018. “Agriculture”, and “Environmental, pollution and Climate” were already identified previously in the top Four but “Oil and Gas” moved to the 5th position whereas “Emergency services” move from the 7th to the 3rd one. “Construction”, “Real-estate management” and “Alternative energy” improved their ranking. No other significant change is detected.



The geographic distribution of sales is an important parameter for EARSC which is active in different projects to promote the internationalization of Earth observation services companies. Sales in the EU represent 70%. If the domestic market is still the most important (37%), it is closely followed by other sales in Europe (34%). A particular point is an increase in sale in North America which represent 15% even if Canada is no more part of the survey. The percentage share coming from public sector sources has slightly increased (62 to 66%) but it is mostly due to the public R&D funding. Revenues share coming from the Private sector is stable at 28%. 



What does “Earth observation downstream” mean? As the value chain of the Earth observation services extends from satellite operation and data sales through to consultancy services and software development, the definition of Earth observation downstream can be complex. The three biggest activities based on 2018 revenues are Value-Adding services (26%), Earth observation data reception and distribution (21%) and Hardware/software (12%). Compared to previous years, the growth of data reception and distribution has increased by around 9% whereas the Hardware/software decreased by around 11%. A significant change is related to the type of services. The fully automated services have more than doubled their share in the last two years rising from 9 to 21%.


NextGEOSS is contributing to developing solutions

With its Innovative and Business pilot approach, targeting e.g. Agriculture, Biodiversity, Security, NextGEOSS helps to develop solutions which may have a direct impact on the biggest markets, matching users/customers’ needs but also support the development of new solutions for emerging ones (e.g. Real-estate management, Alternative energies)

Get a better insight and dive deeper into the Earth observation industry sector in NextGEOSS webinar series on October 4th at 14:00 CEST: Earth Observation Industry 2019.