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A thriving community of travel communities and geospatial partners in Scotland

A thriving community of travel communities and geospatial partners in Scotland

Electrek Explorer is an eco-mapping web app that puts all the information required for an Electric adventure-trip in one place. It enables users to explore using EVs and E-bikes, opening new horizons for sustainable travel. They have strong links with eco-tourism businesses, local food providers and eco-accommodation as well as nature conservation groups and wildlife charities, providing a fully eco-friendly experience for its customers.

Electrek Explorer was looking to expand their network of connections in tourism and EV charging and connect with other businesses working across the geospatial community to learn, share ideas and help create best practice.


Accessing the right data sources to help enhance their electric road trips, E-bike trails and nature exploration was an exciting challenge for Electrek Explorer. The team at Location Data Scotland (LDS) were able to provide information about the data needs of people involved in Scottish Tourism via the Tourism Observatory and introduced them to the Crowne Estate to explore potential nature-based tourism data for Recharge in Nature. LDS also introduced Electrek Explorer to the GIS Manager at Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park who are currently exploring active travel and net zero ambitions. Although they have no data to share currently, Electrek Explorer hope they will form a key partner in the future.

Connections were also made with Electric vehicle charge point organisations Miralis Data and Sustainable Mobility Cluster Builder to identify the specific locations for the EV charging points.

Elaine Ford, Founder and CEO of Electrek Explorer said:

“We are part of a thriving community of travel communities and geospatial partners in Scotland, including GeoVation, NatureScot, Travel Tech Scotland and Location Data Scotland. Having this vibrant community has allowed us to identify funders and partners for our webApp – Nature Scot and Electrek Explorer: Recharge in Nature WebApp. But it has also allowed us to identify advisory board members, partner companies, and potential investors.

Location Data Scotland adds a lot to this mix. As a company it is essential that we identify and collaborate with numerous individuals and organisations capturing data to make our sustainable travel routes as rich as possible. The Location Data Scotland geospatial community is valuable for facilitating introductions in their network and we appreciate the support and connections they can provide which are essential to businesses at our stage of growth.

We’re really excited to have now launched the Electrek Explorer Recharge in Nature Web App as we have more exciting nature rich trips coming soon.”

A widening GIS skills gap in Scotland

A widening GIS skills gap in Scotland

November 2022
A recent round table hosted by Location Data Scotland, in conjunction with AGI-Scotland and the University of Edinburgh, saw a meeting of minds between industry, Government, academia, and research to consider the geospatial skills gap in Scotland.

Geography is viewed as a social science within the Scottish curriculum; however, this currently downplays the element of GIS and its importance as a source of employment. The ability to link geography with computing science in schools to help put geospatial on the map! Qualifications also need to be considered at all levels – SQA, college and university.

Schools, colleges, and universities are promoting data science as a key career path for students. Huge opportunities are opening up across the world and salaries in this area are leading the charge, however GIS analysis is not considered under the umbrella of data science. If it is to be taken seriously as a career path, awareness raising is required to showcase the opportunities and consideration must be given as to where it is introduced – school or college or university courses – apprenticeships – jobs?

There is a need in geospatial sector to develop a campaign similar to the one launched a few years ago in the Construction sector – GoConstruct – an online resource for anyone looking for a career in the construction and built environment sector. A campaign like this will significantly increase the awareness of geospatial and ultimately the skills base for geospatial in Scotland.

Bruce Gittings, Chair of AGI-Scotland said “We want to put Scotland at the centre of an international geospatial stage so we can attract technology entrepreneurs, promote start-ups and bring research to this country. To do this we need a diverse base of skilled professionals, building on Scotland’s geospatial heritage and a growing data science sector. While our universities lead the world in aspects of this GIS and remote sensing, we need to expose students in schools and colleges to the benefits and potential of this technology, as well as ensuring we have appropriate professional development opportunities for those at all career stages. Having access to industry networks such as Location Data Scotland and AGI Scotland is essential to help address this skill challenge and identify appropriate solutions.”

Have your Say!

A survey was launched in May 2022 and a series of roundtables are underway to consider the findings and discussion a shared vision for tackling the challenges. If you want to join a roundtable, contact ashley.stewart@optimat.co.uk

Everything you need to know about Innovation, Collaboration and Funding

Everything you need to know about Innovation, Collaboration and Funding

September 2022
Innovation is the process of taking new ideas and research to market. It drives productivity, exports and economic growth and helps solve societal challenges.

In our recent webinar Innovate UK, Scottish Enterprise and ESA (European Space Agency) joined Location Data Scotland to explore opportunities around innovation, collaboration and funding.

Innovate UK funding and support

Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency, enabling business led and collaborative innovation in all sectors, technologies and UK geographic regions. The Innovate UK group offers a range of specialist support for innovative businesses:

Innovate UK Innovate UK KTN Innovate UK Edge Catapults
Funding and support for innovation projects Connections to new partners and opportunities Support for growing innovative businesses Specialist facilities and experts in technology areas

Carol Sunderland who works in the Artificial Intelligence and Data Economy (AIDE) Team discussed how Innovate UK has supported a range of geospatial innovation projects – both from a geospatial data generation and application perspective in a number of different sectors including agriculture, maritime, port logistics, construction, infrastructure and rail, by way of example. It was further explained that geospatial funding opportunities also lie in some cross-sector and international programmes.

ESA Funding and Support

We also heard from Ken Gordon, the UK business ambassador at ESA Space Solutions who are the largest space innovation network in the world. ESA support start-ups and SMEs to grow their business through zero equity funding, technology and commercial guidance, support from a personalised consultant and access to a network of partners. Companies can apply for ESA funding (open calls or kickstart activities) as long as they use one space asset – for example, earth observation, space weather, satellite navigation, satellite communication or human spaceflight technology.

Scottish Enterprise Funding and Support

Tracey Ward introduced the innovation, collaboration and funding team at Scottish Enterprise. Scottish Enterprise help ambitious companies who are seeking innovation funding from a variety of sources. Scottish Enterprise work typically, but not exclusively, with SMEs (10-250 employees) who are:

  • Market-orientated innovation and/or R&D projects
  • Can evidence a market (have customers who are willing to pay)
  • Are confident that they will be able to match-fund at least 30% of the project costs
  • Are willing to share their results


  • Our webinar speakers shared their top tips for preparing and submitting a funding application:

    1. Ensure there is a fit with the funding call in question (including the technology readiness level (TRL), does your organisation fit the criteria, does your idea match the themes of the funding?).
    2. Ensure your innovation is central to your application.
    3. Solve a problem worth solving and make sure you include external validation of the problem.
    4. Ensure you answer the IP (intellectual property) question fully.
    5. Convey the business case within your application and demonstrate your market knowledge and the opportunity. Clearly articulate your specific knowledge of the market you are addressing your proposition and where you are positioned within the value chain.
    6. For ESA applications understand how you will use the space assets you will be using.
    7. Don’t generalise; ie don’t say ‘we are the only people doing this’ unless you can prove it! Demonstrate where you fit against the competition.
    8. If your project requires partners, find your partners as early as possible. Seek support from the networks – Location Data Scotland, Innovate UK KTN and Scottish Enterprise. Individuals such as Luca Bodello from Innovate UK KTN can help provide geospatial connections.
    9. Demonstrate your knowledge of the market opportunity. For ESA applications this needs to be from a UK/European perspective.
    10. Don’t underestimate the time needed to complete an application. Ensure you submit it in plenty of time – on some platforms you can add draft versions of documents – upload as you go along so you have evidence if problems arise. Draft – Review – Redraft – Proof Read – Check – Submit
    11. As Innovate UK is awarded via a competition model, look out for relevant competitions and answer the questions clearly.
    12. Ensure you have the capacity to deliver the project.
    13. Co-funding can NOT be other sources of public money.



    If you missed our webinar, or just want to refresh your memory, links to the event recording and resources are available below.

    Location Data Scotland can help your business access the right funding sources and support to help grow your business. If you wish to access this support, or the support discussed during the webinar, use the links below.

    Upcoming Innovation Challenge – Collaboration Opportunity

    Cattle
    Cattle

    Upcoming Innovation Challenge – Collaboration Opportunity

    August 2022
    Can your organisation help to accurately measure biomass and natural capital using space data?

    Scottish Enterprise in partnership with Scottish Government and the Data Lab will shortly be launching a national, Scotland CAN DO innovation challenge call, which is open the any eligible organisation in Scotland. This grant funding for Scottish businesses is to facilitate the development of innovative solutions, using space data, that will support the transition to Net Zero. This Scotland CAN DO funding call offers 100% of eligible project costs. It will allow companies to assess the technical and commercial feasibility of their proposed solution over a period of 3 to 5 months, with projects completing by the nd of March 2023. A minimum of £20,000 and a maximum of £30,000 grant funding is available.

    Further information will be shared when the call officially launches on 22nd August, but this is advance warning of the upcoming opportunity and also an invitation for Earth Observation companies to collaborate with a cooperative of farmers to develop solutions to solve their biomass and natural capital measurement challenge which could, potentially, be scaled across the agricultural sector.

    Download further information on the agricultural challenge below.

    If you are interested in this opportunity and would like to be introduced to the challenge holder, please contact us.

    Edinburgh based GSI are soaring!

    GIS image
    GIS image

    Edinburgh based GSI are soaring!

    August 2022

    Global Surface Intelligence (GSI) are an Edinburgh based geospatial SME using satellite imagery in combination with other data layers, for example mapping tools, GIS, Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and ground reference data, to survey forests at large scale with high levels of accuracy to deliver analysis-ready data for commercial customers in the industry supply chain. Most of their customers are based in the USA, but more recently they have been focusing on opportunities within the UK.

    Location Data Scotland invited GSI to present their innovative technology at a meeting in Edinburgh in November 2021 where they met some of the commissioners from the Geospatial Commission. The commissioners were blown away by GSI’s technology and as a result included them in their 2022/23 Annual Plan as an example of sustainable management of natural resources using innovative geospatial solutions. The report highlighted a project GSI delivered with Ecometrica through ESA (European Space Agency) as part of the Scottish Earth Observation Service (SEOS) consortium. The project was to deliver a Vegetation Condition, Scotland (VCS) mapping and monitoring service to address environment and land-management issues to save time and money.

    GSI provided accurate forestry surveys from which potential investors could build a valuation for specific areas of interest across Scotland. There was a high degree of innovation in combining satellite and LiDAR data to achieve the desired levels of accuracy. Maps were produced for five areas to demonstrate the key attributes of tree species and tree heights which are the essential components for the valuation models. The SEOS service was publicly launched on 4 May 2022 and reports are now available as well as bespoke surveys.

    More recently GSI has been working with the Satellite Catapult through another ESA project to map forestation in places such as Brazil and Guatemala to identify that the land used to grow crops to make products such as coffee was sustainably sourced, and no illegal deforestation occurred. This is essential information for supermarkets to ensure that the products they sell are sustainably sourced.

    Peter Young, CEO of GSI said:

    We are really lucky to be working on such fascinating projects that are making huge impacts on sustainability. Having partners such as the European Space Agency, Location Data Scotland and the Geospatial Commission opens up a wealth of opportunities for SMEs in Scotland. Ashley at LDS has been a great advocate of our technology and ensures she links us with key opportunities where possible.

    LDS opening the right doors for B2B solutions provider Vahanomy

    LDS opening the right doors for B2B solutions provider Vahanomy

    Tech entrepreneur Arun Gopinath has a vision of the future with a fully joined up inclusive ecosystem for autonomous vehicles and services and is positioning his company Vahanomy at the heart of that ecosystem.

    The global EV charging public infrastructure market is forecast to be US$60 billion by 2030, with location analysis and site selection estimated at 8% of the cost (US$4.8 billion). Early this year the UK government announced that they were allocating £450m to create 300,000 public charging stations, a huge opportunity for Vahanomy. Arun comments:

    “We don’t know exactly what the autonomous vehicle landscape will look like in the future but what we do know is that it will be powered by electric vehicles in the foreseeable future. There is currently a huge opportunity in Scotland and the rest of the UK to lay the foundations for our future vision and we see a massive opportunity to introduce our services to the rest of the world.”

    Vahanomy is an Edinburgh based start-up developing innovative artificial intelligence data drivenB2B solutions to enable the accelerated rollout of electric vehicles (EV) charging infrastructure globally.

    The company’s first two products include an AI-powered location data intelligence tool that will assess and analyse proposed EV charging locations and the portal; a B2B and B2C marketplace listing potential charging sites and services and facilitate the trading of EV charging sites and trading capacity and provide analytics of demand and supply of services in the EV charging ecosystem.

       

    As a business, Vahanomy has a strong ethical stance that they will create solutions for everyone that will reduce our carbon footprint and make transport much more mobile and accessible.Arun and his fellow directors originate from outside Scotland and were challenged when starting to build their network of connections in Scotland. Arun commented:

    “There is a fantastic support network across Scotland from Scottish Enterprise, to the University infrastructure, with lots of different touch points to find partners, investors, customers, and staff. Unfortunately, if you are not originally from Scotland and not part of a university network it is difficult to know how to start navigating this landscape. Vahanomy was accepted onto the TravelTech for Scotland programme which then exposed them to Location Data Scotland and the EIE (Engage, Invest, Exploit) programme through the University of Edinburgh. Each of these connections have provided lots of different opportunities and validation.”

    Vahanomy identified several key stakeholders that they wanted to engage with through Location Data Scotland to help them quantify their idea, test their technology and source data sets including Registers of Scotland, the Improvement Service, Geospatial Commission and Ordnance Survey. Arun commented:

    “We realised early on that these stakeholders were going to be instrumental in helping ussource the data we needed to deliver our services and evolve our ecosystem. Ashley at Location Data Scotland has a fantastic network of connections and she easily started opening doors for us to the right people across the location data domain. We’ve had initial meetings with these individuals, and they have started to share information and open doors that have been instrumental for the next stages in our business growth.”

    To find out more about Vahanomy visit www.vahanomy.com

    Geospatial Skills Survey

    Geospatial Skills Survey

    July 2022
    Are there skills and recruitment gaps in the geospatial sector?

    Geospatial is flourishing with growing interest across a range of sectors and government.  But can we meet the future UK demand for skilled professionals?

    Anecdotal evidence indicates that there are skills and recruitment challenges within the sector, however further analysis is necessary to uncover where the gaps lie and how the sector can meet the future UK demand for skilled professionals.

    Location Data Scotland are working with the University of Edinburgh and AGI Scotland to undertake research with our individual networks across the geospatial landscape to be able to assess this further.

    Open SurveyIf you are working across industry, academia, public sector or third sector and have an opinion on this area, we would invite you to complete the survey here.

    A round-table workshop involving partners, enablers, providers, potential employers will be held later this year to begin collectively addressing the challenges. The outcomes of the round-table discussions will be fed back to key stakeholders including organisations such as Skills Development Scotland to help shape the skills agenda.

    Bruce Gittings, Senior Lecturer in Geographical Information at University of Edinburgh, said:

    “This survey represents an important step in a partnership between LDS and AGI Scotland to galvanise action on geospatial training and skills.  We are looking to understand the needs and opportunities for a new and diverse group of people to work in our industry and help build Scotland as an international hub for geospatial talent and business.”

    Geospatial solutions to solve ecological and environmental problems

    Geospatial solutions to solve ecological and environmental problems

    March 2022
    We spoke to Doug McNeil of Eolas Insight about the support received from Location Data Scotland and being part of the Geovation Accelerator Programme.

    Eolas Insight provide technical solutions focused on the ecological and environmental sectors in an easy, user friendly way.

    EOLAS

    They detect and provide counts for animals using satellite and aerial imagery combined with artificial intelligence. They have successfully delivered a project in Scotland tracking red deer and are now working in Mozambique looking at large animals – giraffes and elephants.

    As part of the Geovation accelerator programme the team at Eolas Insight has been developing a business and financial case for a truly innovative geospatial portal that will allow environmentalists and ecologists to access the technologies for themselves to carry out the analysis.

    Doug McNeil
    Doug McNeil

    In his interview founder of Eolas Insight Doug McNeil said, “The Geovation Accelerator programme allowed us to focus on the portal proof of concept. This was a critical step to format the business case prior to developing the prototype.  I really enjoyed the personal approach from the team at Geovation as they didn’t just provide information; they took the time to work out how this information could be embedded into our business.”

    Eolas Insight were also supported by Location Data Scotland, who were instrumental in helping them network into other industries and opened doors to potential collaborators in the agricultural sector. Doug said, “Talking, collaborating and networking is key for any organisation working in the geospatial sector to not just open doors but to test your ideas and assess the next steps for your business. It can really make a huge difference.”