Innovation in Australia’s space sector has been given a boost today, with the announcement that the space technology innovation program, the Gravity Challenge, launched in South Australia last year, will now run in both the UK and Australia.

Registrations open today for businesses, government agencies and other organisations in both countries to join the program as Challengers: bringing high value business challenges to the program for innovators to solve using space data and technology.

The South Australian Government will continue as a major supporter, with Gravity HQ being hosted at the prestigious Lot Fourteen innovation precinct in Adelaide, the epicentre of Australia’s space industry.

Lot Fourteen is already home to the Australian Space Agency and SmartSat CRC and the state’s space industry credentials will be further strengthened with the Mission Control Facility and Space Discovery Centre also set to join the precinct.

The Australian Space Agency is also on board to support the Challenge for a second year.

Deloitte and Amazon Web Services (AWS) will draw on their capabilities in Australia and the UK to help accelerate commercial innovation in the space sectors of both countries and encourage greater collaboration between them.

South Australian Space Industry Centre Chief Executive Richard Price said the South Australian Government was proud to be a key partner again following the success of the challenge in 2019.

“It is terrific to see the Gravity Challenge coming back bigger, better and international in 2020 and the Lot Fourteen innovation precinct is the ideal location for Gravity HQ, being home to some of the brightest minds in the industry,” he said.

“South Australia is a leader in the nation’s space endeavours and we have a thriving space ecosystem of private enterprise, research and educational institutions, consultancies and government departments. The strength of this innovative event is that it stimulates business opportunities by connecting space technology providers with companies to meet today’s needs across a broad range of sectors.

“International collaboration in space technology is a key driver of innovation so the opportunity for participants to collaborate across the nation and the UK makes this year’s challenge incredibly enticing and we look forward to seeing the end solutions,” said Mr Price.

Deloitte’s Australian Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer Rob Hillard said the success of the inaugural Gravity Challenge, last year, had shown the value of bringing together disparate stakeholders to solve real industry, social and environmental problems.

“The Gravity Challenge is about using space technologies, such as satellite imaging and the internet of things, to solve real world problems happening on Earth today,” he said. “We bring together innovators and entrepreneurs, with businesses, universities and governments who have challenges to solve.

“Space data and solutions can be applied to almost any industry. Last year we had challenges across defence, mining, health, insurance and agriculture. This year, we anticipate more challenges around environmental sustainability, emergency management, health, life sciences, travel and tourism – many of those sectors that are doing it particularly tough as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and will perhaps benefit the most from some innovative thinking. We know that when we work together, and think differently, we can overcome the greatest challenges.”

What’s new in 2020?

The Gravity Challenge brings together Challengers (businesses, government agencies and universities) and Innovators (start-ups, entrepreneurs and SMEs) to collaborate and create solutions to some of society’s biggest challenges.

In 2020 Challengers and Innovators can come from either Australia or the UK and all Challengers and Innovators will be able to work together to create new solutions, regardless of geographic location.

The 2020 Gravity Challenge will run around a new, nine-month, concurrent structure, split into three phases, each 12 weeks long:

  1. Phase 1 – Challenges (Challengers and Innovators recruited and Challenges set)
  2. Phase 2 – Innovate (Innovators work to develop solutions, collaborating with Challengers)
  3. Phase 3 – Pilot (Ongoing support and mentoring to commercialise the solutions)

Phase 3 coincides with Phase 1 of the next set of Challenges, providing a continuous, iterative, ecosystem to nurture new ideas.

The 2020 Gravity Challenge will revolve around the same industry sectors as last year, namely:

  • Mining and Energy Resources
  • Defence, Security & Military
  • Agriculture & Meteorology
  • Banking & Insurance
  • Telecommunications & Connectivity
  • Health & Life Sciences
  • Transportation, Logistics & Smart Cities
  • Travel & Tourism

Head of Innovation at Deloitte Jason Bender said: “The overwhelming success of the inaugural Challenge last year has inspired us to go bigger and better in 2020 and we are thrilled to now make this an international program.

“We are doubling the Innovate Phase from six to twelve weeks, to encourage even greater interaction between Challengers and Innovators across both countries. And the extended Pilot Phase reinforces to Innovators the critical importance of commercialising their solutions. We are not just creating science projects here. The Gravity Challenge is a way to leverage the space ecosystem to create new ideas and potentially new jobs that will give a much-needed boost to the Australian and UK economies.

“In the current climate, programs like Gravity are important, as they emphasise a ‘future focus’ in times of crisis. Space is energising. It conjures dreams of going to the moon, of science and technology overcoming unsurmountable problems. Space acts as a catalyst to unleash innovative thinking and help create gravity-defying solutions. The Gravity Challenge acts as a metaphor for innovation more broadly. We get to lift our gaze and look to the stars and imagine that anything is possible.”

2019 Summary

The first Gravity Challenge saw 115 Innovators forming 42 teams to create solutions for 12 Challenges. The teams leveraged space data and technologies including AI, Machine Learning, Blockchain, IoT and drones.

The 2019 Gravity Challenge Winners were crowned across three award categories:

  1. Meteor Award for the most innovative use of space capability – awarded to New South Wales-based Spiral Blue for its cloud-based data engine that forecasts fire risks along network infrastructure.
  2. Galaxy Award for the most innovative use of space data – awarded to South Australia-based Frazer-Nash Consultancy for its cloud-based solution that will help NT Health identify mould and smoke hazards.
  3. Supernova Award for the greatest social impact – awarded to Victoria-based Agtuary (formerly Aerospace Systems) for its Information-as-a-Service platform which gives farmers information about growth cycles, yield estimates and crop stress to enable efficient use of resources.

Register Your Interest for 2020 Now

The Gravity Challenge is now looking to recruit Challengers. If you are a businesses, university or government agency, please register your interest by emailing: by 31 May 2020.

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