The Earth Observation industry continues to grow

A recap of the 2020 “State and Health of the Earth Observation services industry report”, distributed by EARSC

3 min readJul 28, 2020
© ESA — P. Carril

The 2020 Earth Observation Industry Survey has been published by EARSC in July. This report covers the results coming from the 1st survey conducted at an interval of one year from the previous one. It has not covered all aspects of the full industry survey, which will be included when the next one is conducted (in early 2021).

The analysis shows that the Earth Observation industry continues to grow at a healthy pace of 10% a year with 9876 employees and revenues estimated at €1.38b for 2019.

Evolution of EO employees per company’s class
Evolution of revenues per company’s class

For the first time, two new sections on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and skills were integrated into the industry survey.

SDGs, mandated by the UN, are becoming more familiar and more widely accepted by nations as a means to seek sustainable growth.

Many of the SDGs can be supported through the use of information coming from Earth Observation services. Indeed, Earth Observation solutions can help countries in better achieving their SDG objectives, monitoring progress and reporting on the SDG global indicator framework. The analysis demonstrates that companies are increasingly aware of this as an opportunity.

55% of the respondents claim to be delivering services which can help with indicators of progress on one or more of the SDGs. Many companies also reported that they would be very interested in a training session or a webinar about how Earth observation can support their implementation and monitoring.

Companies delivering EO services for SDGs’ analysis, monitoring or reporting

Acknowledging that access to skills is becoming a more important issue in the sector, the report aimed to show the challenges faced by companies regarding employment. According to the survey, 80% of the respondents are finding it difficult to find and hire candidates.

Is it easy to fill in open positions?

Drilling down, among the different skills identified, various technical skills are needed in the EO sector. According to those surveyed, the most sought-after skills are programming and development capability. These are followed by analytical capability. The companies also reported the need of having transversal and soft skills.

Technical skills lacking

It should be noted that the Covid-19 crisis has struck after the results were gathered so the survey does not cover any impact of the pandemic on companies’ businesses. However, a survey measuring the first consequences of the crisis has been conducted earlier this year and it seems highly probable that the effects will show up in the next survey in 2021.




Large-scale Skills Partnership for the downstream segment of space economy dedicated to data, services and applications(under the EC initiative Pact for Skills)