Earth we love you... but we need some space

Whales, dolphins and other marine mammals breed and migrate in line with the seasons, in cycles that vary across the globe and by species.

The more we understand about how, when and where, the better. Because the sad truth is that this migration can bring marine mammals closer to port locations, making it more likely that they and the vessels in our waters will collide.

We’re hoping it’s a problem that space tech can help solve. Together with the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) and its partners, we’re exploring whether satellite data can help us highlight areas where vessels are likely to strike marine mammals in congested water space.

The idea is that, using data from the UKHO, together with marine mammal observations and satellite data, we can better predict where marine mammals are likely to be. It’s hoped that data could be used as the basis for communication with ships and boats, to help them avoid catastrophic collisions and protect the marine life in our oceans.

Making space tech accessible

This is just one of the important projects we’ve been working on since April 2021 when organisations including the UKHO submitted planet and space-related challenges for us to put to a global community of corporates, entrepreneurs and universities as part of Deloitte’s Gravity Challenge 03.

Working together, the organisations and our judging panel will select the innovators and ideas they believe can really make a difference.

“Space tech is seeing soaring demand as reducing costs of access and use of cloud technologies enable widespread adoption,” said Deloitte Space practice lead Alex Bird. “It is forecast that the roughly $350 billion global space industry could surge to over $1 trillion by 2040.”

“It’s an amazing opportunity to make a difference, bringing start-ups and space-tech together to tackle the impacts of climate change – which one in four organisations say is affecting their business – while also creating growth and employment opportunities.” 

After they’re announced in October 2021, the winners will work with us, those who posed the challenge and data and technology providers, with the intent to roll out a pilot of the solution and form a commercial arrangement.

Gravity Challenge 03 builds on the success of two previous Gravity challenges. Gravity Challenge 02, which concluded in 2020, saw seven winners awarded from the UK, selected from an initial group of over 300 global registrations. Treeconomy was selected as the winner of the challenge set by fruit farming business Bardsley England.

Collecting new data for carbon measurement and learning more about carbon sequestration techniques across different ecosystems could allow the UK to move more quickly towards a net zero future.
Siobhan Gardiner

Deloitte Ventures

When Bardsley met Treeconomy

“Here we are saying we’ve got tech that can calculate and track carbon storage above ground,” said Harry Grocott of nature-based carbon start-up Treeconomy.  

“And here’s Bardsley England saying they need people to help calculate the above-ground carbon stored in their orchards.”

“A carbon target is only any good if you’re actually making progress towards it,” said Deloitte Ventures’ Dr Siobhan Gardiner.

“We need to be out in the field, testing emerging techniques, and helping people adopt the right technology to make impactful and lasting change.”

Helping to tackle the climate crisis

Bardsley England is a leading UK fruit producer, whose fifth-generation owner Ben Bardsley feels a deep responsibility to “help sort this climate crisis out” and hand down a planet that’s fit to live on, along with a thriving, sustainable business.

The company’s quest for innovation led it to Deloitte’s Gravity Challenge, where experts from our Ventures team matched it with Treeconomy.

Now Treeconomy has reconstructed Bardsley’s orchard in 3D, using drone-enabled LiDAR (laser scanning) and photogrammetry. The goal? To measure the above-ground portion of the ecosystem and understand how much carbon is present and being stored.

“If you want to become a more climate-friendly business you need partnerships like these,” said Ben, “because no one can do it by themselves.

“It’s early stages, but it’s really exciting and we’re looking forward to being a few years on and seeing the difference we’ve made.”

Siobhan added: “The potential is huge. Collecting new data for carbon measurement and learning more about carbon sequestration techniques across different ecosystems could allow the UK to move more quickly towards a net zero future.”

At Deloitte Ventures we’re helping to create connections that make an impact.

Watch our video to see the project in action.

Space and the response to COVID-19

“A few years ago, drones delivering medical supplies within the UK mainland would’ve sounded far-fetched,” said Deloitte’s advanced air mobility expert Chris Coates.  “But when the right tech meets an urgent, real-world challenge, we can quickly change life for the better.” 

When the European Space Agency asked for ideas about how space-based technology could help with responses to the pandemic, collaboration held the answer. 

Working with the NHS, delivery-drone operator Skyports and Vodafone, we delivered a pilot that reduced the delivery time of COVID-19 tests and samples between isolated communities in the Scottish Highlands from 36 hours to 15 minutes.

Made possible by developments in cloud tech and satellites that offer new ways of gathering and using information across the globe, projects like this are fuelling our mission to be the first professional services firm devoted to the entire space value-chain.

“The economics of space is revolutionising industries – and along with them, completely shifting our perceptions of what’s possible,” Deloitte’s Alex Bird concluded.