Game-Changing Ground Motion Surveys for Environmental Safety and Security

Young companies with innovative ideas, products or services can be game-changing. Geomatic Ventures Limited (GVL) is exactly one of those aspiring companies. Their comprehensive satellite based ground motion surveys are already making a huge impact. This Copernicus Masters Overall Winner 2014 offers complete ground coverage over all classes of terrain and land cover. The fact that the company is able to survey all land cover types, including vegetation where habitually DInSAR (Differential Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) algorithms struggle, makes it unique nowadays. By having developed a smart system that can identify and monitor very precise surface ground movements as an early warning system, their surveys are of high interest for a wide range of industries, including oil and gas, civil engineering, geohazards, mining and climate change.

Learn more about the pioneering company with its smart product and related services. Discover the success story with all its challenges and visions in our interview with the CEO of GVL Paul Bathia.

6 Questions to GVL

AZO: Please give us a sneak peek of your product and the team behind it.

Geomatic Ventures Limited provides satellite based ground motion surveys for environmental safety and security. Founded in 2015, GVL is a spin-out company from the University of Nottingham and consists of a multi-faceted team, namely business-minded professionals, software developers, radar remote sensing specialists as well as GIS experts. Although having different backgrounds, our team shares one big vision: in the coming years, we want to become one of the world-leading providers of dense interferometric SAR (InSAR) ground motion products for environmental safety & security, providing commercial wide area, long time-series, high precision and high accuracy land motion services. To realise this vision, we have spent the last two years developing a software system capable of the efficient processing of high volumes of satellite Earth Observation data. Initially, we understood our product as a support service for the regulation procedure in the onshore and oil and gas industry. Since our company foundation, we have been making steady sales to commercial and regulatory bodies alike so that today, our clients are located all around the globe, from Canada to China, and we also offer our services to a wider range of industries than expected.

AZO: What was your company’s biggest challenge so far?

Using Sentinel-1 data was the greatest opportunity, but also posed the greatest challenge for us: in the past, it was not easy to access high volumes of Sentinel-1 data due to long processing times and difficult access procedures. Our satellite based ground motion surveys require the analysis of large amounts of Interferometric Wide (IW) imaging. Therefore, we had to reinforce our capacity to download and analyse the necessary Earth Observation data in an automated, or at least semi-automated way while constantly guaranteeing a high quality at various critical stages of production. Today, our processing system is light-years away from the system we used at the beginning.

AZO: Can you explain the three main ingredients of your recipe for success?

Our success was all about having the right product and service at the right time and in the right place. GVL has one product to sell, which is land motion maps generated using the newly developed ISBAS (intermittent small-baseline subset) technique for monitoring ground motions. The fact that we decided to focus upon this one product has enabled us to obtain an in-depth knowledge about it. Long phases of testing helped us to realise our strengths and weaknesses and to optimise our product and service at all stages so that we are on track to become one of the most important providers of satellite based ground motion surveys for environmental safety and security.

AZO: What do you expect from the Copernicus Masters? How did the competition and its network help you to kick-start your business case?

In 2014, Dr Andy Sowter and I, nowadays the two directors of GVL – won the Copernicus Masters Airbus and Hisdesat Radar Challenge and we were also awarded as the Copernicus Masters Overall Winner. At that time, we were both working at the University of Nottingham in the UK.  Thanks to our success, the University supported us in the foundation of a spin-out company, Geomatic Ventures Limited. In 2015, we won the Launchpad funding competition of Innovate UK award and   became incubated at the ESA Business Incubation Centre at Harwell, UK.

AZO: Please tell us a bit about your experience as a mentor of the Copernicus Accelerator coaching programme. What are your experiences so far?

The Copernicus Accelerator is an exciting and valuable new initiative of the European Commission to boost enterprise and innovation around Europe. As a mentor, I am interested in giving something back to the competition from which I greatly benefitted, and I am eager to support new innovators. There are great business opportunities for those who make use of Copernicus nowadays. Therefore, it is extremely important that the actors in our industry collaborate closely and that we share our knowledge and experiences to maximise the success of everybody involved in this sector. By doing so, we can make a huge contribution to the successful outcome of Copernicus itself.

AZO: Let’s reach for the stars – what is going to happen in your company’s future?

Although at the beginning our company was mainly focused on the onshore and oil and gas industry, GVL also attracted interest from other areas, principally infrastructure monitoring and structural health monitoring. This has led to some very promising feasibility studies for which we are in a dialogue with different international stakeholders. In addition, astonishing GVL survey results over peatland areas in Europe and Malaysia indicate that Sentinel-1 data could play a key-role in providing very important global climate change parameters in the future. The goals we already accomplished prove that that GVL could represent a leading actor in offering the right solutions against negative climate change impacts all around the globe.

Do you want to write your own chapter of the Copernicus Masters success story? Then go ahead and pre-register now for the 2017 edition to turn your idea into business, just like GVL did.

About the Copernicus Masters and the Copernicus Accelerator
AZO has launched the Copernicus Masters in 2011 on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA) and with strong support of world-class partners as part of their mission to foster the User Uptake of Copernicus services. The Copernicus Masters is an international competition which awards prizes to innovative solutions for business and society based on Earth observation data. The Copernicus Masters has developed into the moving force of promoting cutting-edge solutions. In 2016, the European Commission has launched Copernicus Accelerator. This one-of-a-kind programme is focused on providing a tailored business coaching service for up to 40 finalists in the Copernicus Masters competition. The submission phase for the Copernicus Masters 2017 starts on 1 April.

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