UAE Space Agency launches call for proposals to address food security, climate crisis at Expo 2020 Dubai

19
  • UAE Space Agency launches competition in partnership with UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Space Week
  • Offers up to AED 4 million to fund next-generation space applications to address climate change, food security
  • Aims to enhance public-private partnerships in the growing space industry and build on the UAE’s position as a global hub for innovation
  • Competition comes weeks after UAE Space Agency announces new interplanetary mission to explore Venus and its Asteroid Belt

Dubai, UAE: The UAE Space Agency has launched a new competition offering up to AED 4 million in funding for next-generation proposals that address climate change and food security. Scientists, entrepreneurs, academics, and innovators seeking to address some of humanity’s greatest challenges are invited to participate and accelerate the UAE’s knowledge-driven economy.

The competition was announced under the umbrella of the Space Analytics and Solutions (SAS) program was announced in Expo 2020 Dubai’s Space Week and has been launched in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), which is also responsible for food and water security. It aims to find technically feasible, scalable and innovative ideas using data gathered from outer space to create services that support agricultural or environmental practices. This could be using data to map and monitor greenhouse gas emissions or analyzing soil moisture levels to boost crop yields.

Two projects will be selected from the competition. They will each receive up to AED 2 million in funding, technical support, assistance from leading experts, and help to secure commercial partnerships and reach customers. In addition to developing cutting-edge applications for the future economy, the program aims to enhance the competitiveness of the UAE space industry, encourage public-private partnerships, upskill talent and strengthen the national space ecosystem.

Climate change and food security are two of the world’s biggest challenges. In 2019, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were higher than at any time in at least two million years,[1] while close to 750 million – nearly one in 10 people around the world – were exposed to severe levels of food insecurity during the same year[2]. Urgent action is needed to address both issues and the UAE Space Agency aims to find solutions to tackle them.

Her Excellency Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, said: “Expo 2020 Dubai represents a unique opportunity to galvanize the world around global challenges and catalyze collaboration for a brighter future. Today we are taking a big step forward in our commitment to avert environmental disaster, empower talent, promote the development of commercially viable services for space, and encourage public-private partnerships. Our competition aims to find the best and brightest academics, entrepreneurs and scientists to create applications that tackle climate change or food security. We are seeking competitive proposals that are original, feasible, scalable and backed by meticulous research and analysis. We hope to boost private sector participation in the space sector and contribute to the UAE’s position as a regional hub for space innovation that supports economic growth and development for the next 50 years.”

Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “Climate change and food security are interlinked. Higher temperatures and extreme weather events have a devastating effect on global food systems. In turn, food systems are responsible for more than one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions[3]. To chart a sustainable future, we must address these challenges head on, which requires innovative solutions. We are proud to partner with the UAE Space Agency in launching UAE Space Agency’s Space Analytics and Solutions (SAS) Program that will advance space science and expedite our journey towards a climate-resilient, food-secure world. The competition highlights the role of innovation as a vehicle for solving some of the most pressing environmental concerns. We aim to build an enabling national scientific research ecosystem that will pave the way for a new generation of space scientists to actively contribute to a cleaner and better tomorrow.”

Proposals should be submitted before the deadline on 15 January 2022. The top six will be invited to pitch in front of a committee of experts in February, with the top two selected as the winners. The competition will recognize proposals based on a variety of factors including the professional experience and academic background of the individuals, as well as the originality and viability of the idea.

The competition comes weeks after the UAE Space Agency announced a new mission to explore Venus and seven asteroids under an ambitious new goal for the country’s burgeoning space program. Much like the competition, the new mission underscores the UAE’s efforts to make a meaningful contribution to space exploration, scientific research and our understanding of the solar system during the next 50 years.

Space Week is one of 10 thematic weeks aimed at finding collaborative solutions to some of the most pressing challenges of our time. Running during the six months of Expo Dubai 2020, each one focuses on specific issues, such as climate and biodiversity, health and wellness, urban and rural development, travel and connectivity.