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How We Turned the Idea of an Open Geospatial Marketplace into a Reality

Viviana Laperchia



"Ideas won't keep. Something must be done about them." ~ Alfred North Whitehead


All great achievements started off with an idea. A thought. A dream. Until the impossible becomes tangible.

But how does that happen? How do we transform an abstraction into something real?

Today marks UP42’s second anniversary -- two years since the company evolved from being a formal concept on a business plan to a fully fledged company with nearly 60 people across the globe.

After 6 months of deep incubation under BCG Digital Ventures, a project aimed at democratizing access to AI-driven Earth observation data and insights was ready to become a proper company incorporated as UP42.

Founded by Airbus and officially launched on May 6, 2019, UP42 was emerging as a paradigm shift in the geospatial industry. Where contractual and technical barriers were preventing users from realizing the potential downstream of Earth observation, UP42 was opening doors to unprecedented opportunities.

Since then, we have grown rapidly as a company and platform, reaching more than 25,000 signups, over 40 data and processing partners, 125 algorithms and analytics, expanding access to the entire land mass of the world.

We have built relationships with some of the best players in the industry such as Hexagon, in order to provide access to 11 million square kilometers of up to 15 cm orthorectified imagery for North America and Europe; or with Getmapping to offer our customers 12.5 cm resolution and 25 cm resolution aerial blocks in RGB.

Lake Aerial

We have talked about lakes and reservoirs, climate change and forest fires. We have explored the role of machine learning and satellite data to measure the impact of COVID19 on our neighborhoods, and have worked closely with open platforms of the caliber of OpenStreetMap to map the impact of flooding.

We have been featured as a leading geospatial marketplace in the European ELISE study into sustainable data ecosystems, and praised as a new paradigm for Business Data within the World Economic Forum.

We were able to do all of this because ideas alone cannot survive. They need people to act on them.

In the past two years, UP42 has invested a significant amount of time, effort, and resources in bringing the right people on board and empowering them to determine the direction of the company.

Ever since we hired employee no. 1, we have been driven by the belief that by bringing people together, we bring technology together. The expansion of our platform’s capabilities is a direct result of a product team that has been entrusted to figure out our customers' business needs and deliver a platform that solves their problems.

From vegetation management to maritime security, we have approached challenges with the solution in mind, ensuring the same level of care for data suppliers as well as for customers relying on such data, becoming the operational backbone of our stakeholders’ business.

And in spite of a global pandemic that has brought the world to its knees, we have been resilient, flexible and adaptable enough to paddle against the challenge and grow our data science team amidst lockdown and remote work.

UP42 Official Launch

Our first launch on today’s date at Berlin’s Zeiss Großplanetarium and our first birthday celebration are still fresh in our memory, and we realize we still have a long way to grow, experiment, and innovate our product further.

But one thing is certain: none of this could have been accomplished without our people’s, partners’ and customers’ support. It took each and every one of them to make a simple idea on paper -- a dream of an open, flexible geospatial data and analytics marketplace -- a product that can help some of the world’s biggest problems.

And for this, we are very thankful. Here is to another successful chapter, together.

Viviana Laperchia

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