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Earth observation data specialist becomes a blockbuster startup

Earth Blox is a cloud-based software-as-a-service provider that empowers anyone, anywhere to create their own Earth observation and satellite data solutions.

Clients use Earth Blox's code-free Lego-like modular blocks to enable them to rapidly identify activities such as deforestation and mining, monitor a supply chain, manage post-disaster recovery and support nature-based innovation.

Without any specialist software skills, users can build their own data-analysis systems, calling on petabyte-scale planetary datasets provided by Google Earth Engine, and daily updates including images from the European Space Agency Sentinel satellites.

Earth Blox’s founder, Dr Genevieve Patenaude of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Geosciences, has been a client of Edinburgh Innovations since 2019. The team supported her application for the Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowship, which brought with it access to a Virtual Board for the company, providing a sounding board for her early commercial journey.

During 2019, the team supported Dr Patenaude through successful applications to ICURe market discovery funding and Innovate UK funding to develop her technology and business. The latter is an intensely competitive funding stream and it’s great testament to the fledgling company that it was successful.

United Nations Environment Programme

Earth Blox launched its services in May 2020. It is already being used in a number of sectors including insurance, disaster response and conflict management. The United Nations Environment Programme is using Earth Blox for its work responding to climate-related conflict risks.

In October 2020 the company was awarded funding from the UK Space Agency, to support Earth observation students and help them navigate the disruption to their education caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Earth Blox for Education project, led by Professor Iain Woodhouse at the University of Edinburgh, and Dr Patenaude at Earth Blox, helped remotely train students taking Earth observation courses – our next generation of climate change specialists, weather forecasters and digital pioneers – during the Covid-19 crisis while universities were unable to run computing classes in person.

The application supported students at four universities: Leeds, Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Open University, providing remote access to vast quantities of satellite data.

Also in October 2020, Earth Blox won a rare double victory in Scotland’s most prestigious enterprise awards, taking the biggest prize in Converge Challenge and a win at Scottish Edge.

Related links

Earth Blox

The University of Edinburgh’s School of Geosciences

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