In an era of profound digital transformation, business leaders and IT experts are convening at ESA’s mission control in Darmstadt, Germany, today for the first SAP Digital Leaders’ Summit.

Under the theme “Gain the competitive edge in a disruptive world”, the summit provides an opportunity for European chief executive officers and future digital leaders to exchange ideas on next-generation business and technology landscapes.

Topics including strategy in the digital age and how outer space impacts digital society, politics and economy are being addressed.

In February, SAP and ESA signed a letter of intent to develop innovative approaches for the quick and efficient processing of large amounts of Earth observation data through access to real-time platforms.

The amount of data from ESA satellites including the Sentinels for Europe’s Copernicus programme – controlled by teams at the European Space Operations Centre where today’s event is being held– is a challenge for traditional data processing and handling.

Through the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, quick and efficient processing of vast amounts of Earth observation data is possible, and opens access to many new applications and users working with the SAP cloud solutions.

Driven by the SAP Center for Digital Leadership, SAP intends to develop further solutions and technologies based on elastic cloud-platforms such as SAP HANA Spatial and Earth observation data from ESA. The results are planned to become reality in new services, showcase, and new fields of applications for SAP and ESA customers. Entrepreneurs, partners and SAP customers around the world will be able to build their businesses on top of SAP technology while leveraging geospatial information.

Today’s summit is an important step in the ESA–SAP collaboration, which also foresees joint promotional activities for start-up companies and small- and medium-sized enterprises. A session will be devoted to digital start-up innovation, where winners from ESA’s App Camps and the Copernicus Masters will present their ideas, together with teams from the SAP HANA Startup Focus Programme.

“More and more applications will be platform-based in the future. To reach the users it is important that data providers and platform operators join forces. This is the idea behind the strategic partnership between ESA and SAP,” said Volker Liebig, former Director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes.

“From the ESA side, we bring the vast amount of information coming from ESA’s scientific satellite missions as well as the data delivered by the European Copernicus satellites. Together with SAP we expect to gain access to new user groups and pave the way for new satellite-based applications.”

Dr Carsten Linz, Business Development Officer and Global Head of SAP’s Center for Digital Leadership, said: “Smart data is the new golden nugget in the digital age. However, data alone is not knowledge. Platform-based innovation makes it easier than ever to create a winning digital strategy where data-driven insight and action are true, smart assets.

“Today’s summit demonstrates concrete digital innovation showcases from the SAP-ESA partnership as well as joint achievements in building a digital space ecosystem with start-up companies.

“The combination of the SAP HANA Spatial platform with ESA’s geospatial information opens a bright future for space-related applications, such as smart farming and smart cities which bring businesses the competitive edge and improve peoples’ lives.”