When the European Commission wanted to improve agricultural crop management and sustainability, it turned to PwC. We delivered, by applying PwC Insights from Space: our artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled tool that uses satellite data to help reduce the impact of chemical fertilisers on soil and water quality. Now other industries ranging from defence & security to insurance are joining the space age with PwC. That’s why the PwC France team behind PwC Insights from Space are a Global Innovation Challenge finalist.
When Luigi Scatteia, Space Practice leader, PwC France bumped into William Ricard, Senior Manager Space Practice (PwC France) at a space conference in Canada, they had little idea where it would lead. That encounter convinced William to leave his job at the Canadian Space Agency and join PwC’s space team, based in France – enabling the two to start innovating together around their shared passion for space. Luigi explains: ‘Around that time, PwC had acquired Datasio, a start-up specializing in satellite data analytics. So we had the idea, and we had the technical capabilities. The only thing we needed was to assess the market opportunity.’ Now they're busy realising that opportunity – to the benefit of the planet.
Agriculture is a vital industry for sustaining the future of mankind - but through its land use, it also has a significant impact on the environment. The use of chemical fertilisers in agriculture is a particular problem because it degrades soil and water resources. These impacts are resulting in increasing scrutiny from governments and regulators. Across member states of the European Union, for example, farmers must now monitor and report on how they use fertilisers.
To help address the problem, the European Commission decided to assist Europe’s farmers in reducing the environmental impact of fertilisers. To do this, the European Commission issued a tender for a solution to enable detailed tracking, recording and management of fertiliser usage by farmers across the European Union’s various member states. PwC France proposed using the PwC Insights from Space solution that they had been developing - and won the tender.
The solution works by combining satellite data with several other data sources - soil samples, hydrological data, regulatory constraints, and more. It then applies AI algorithms to the blended data, generating insights delivered via computer or mobile to improve on-the-field decision making in nutrient management. Through this approach, PwC Insights from Space enables farmers to do three things. First, optimise their use of chemical fertilisers. Second, decrease their environmental footprint. And third, reduce their costs.
As well as benefiting farmers and the environment, PwC Insights from Space is also benefiting other stakeholders in agriculture like regional agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations. And it’s supporting wider European Commission priorities such as policy monitoring, impact assessment and remote compliance.
The European Commission’s agriculture project is currently in the pilot phase, with Insights from Space already deployed in Spain, Italy and Estonia, and more European Union countries planned for 2021. But European agriculture is just one area where Insights from Space is taking off. PwC France is talking to several other governments worldwide. And the solution is demonstrating its versatility and value in more sectors: they are implementing in a range of industries including defence & security, retail, energy, insurance, public services and more.
Claudia Muresan, Policy Officer at the European Commission DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) comments, ‘The innovative approach you demonstrated will pave the way for a number of different digital tools based on EU satellite data in many other downstream sectors.’
You can find out more here.
‘We’re a diverse team made up of people who are passionate about data, space and sustainability – and we’re looking to solve important problems in society.’
Vicki Huff Eckert
Global New Ventures & Innovation,
TMT Vice Chair, PwC United States
Tel: +1 408 817 4136
Space Practice Leader, Partner, PwC France