Every week in this section, we will present our AI4Copernicus partners and their distinct role and work within the project.

The National Center for Scientific Research Demokritos

The National Centre for Scientific Research Demokritos (NCSR Demokritos) is the largest Greek self-governing research organisation under the supervision of the General Secretariat for Research and Technology (GSRT) of the Greek Government. NCSR Demokritos participates with the Software and Knowledge Engineering Lab (SKEL | The AI Lab) of its Institute of Informatics and Telecommunications.

SKEL | The AI Lab has participated in and coordinated numerous national and European projects and has substantial expertise in the areas of Artificial Intelligence, big data management, content analysis, e-infrastructures, personalisation and human-machine interaction. Since its inception, SKEL has a strong focus on Artificial Intelligence, with its research activities covering a broad range of Natural Language Processing and Content Management and Analysis areas. Its outcomes on diverse fields like Machine Learning and Knowledge Representation have been applied to critical problems in societally important sectors like Health, Culture, and Maritime. 

Role in the Project: Dr. Vangelis Karkaletsis is the project coordinator leading WP1 Project Management, as well as WP6 Technology Transfer via AI4Copernicus Open Calls having the responsibility of planning and managing the open calls. Ahedd DIH and NCSR Demokritos will support the Open Calls tasks. NCSR Demokritos is a technical contributor for AI services and resources in WP3, WP4 and WP5 and also responsible for the dissemination and communication activities in WP7.

Partner Website: https://www.iit.demokritos.gr/

National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA)

The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) participates in AI4Copernicus with the Artificial Intelligence team led by Prof. Manolis Koubarakis. Since 2010, the NKUA team has been the leading European team in applying semantic technologies to Earth Observation data. This work has been funded with more than 4M euros by the European Commission.

Role in the project: As the lead partner in WP3: Technical positioning and architecture, the contribution of NKUA in AI4Copernicus will be the development of a question-answering engine for discovering Copernicus datasets using natural language questions and the development of the Copernicus Knowledge Graph, the first knowledge graph encoding knowledge about the Copernicus programme. Additionally, NKUA is going to lead the design of the software architecture of AI4Copernicus and its interfaces with CREODIAS, WEkEO and the AI4EU platform, and at the same time will position AI4Copernicus in the European AI and Copernicus ecosystems.

Partner website: http://ai.di.uoa.gr/

Thales Alenia Space (TAS)

Thales Alenia Space is a global space manufacturer, a joint venture between Thales and Leonardo, delivering, for more than 40 years, high-tech solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth Observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of approximately 1.850 billion euros in 2020 and has around 7,700 employees in ten countries.

Thanks to our diversity of skills, talents and cultures, our customers (governments, institutions, space agencies, telecommunications operators), rely on us to design, operate and deliver satellite-based systems that help them position and connect anyone or anything, everywhere, help observe our planet, help optimise the use of our planet’s – and our solar system’s – resources.

At Thales Alenia Space, we help further the understanding of our planet by contributing to R&D activities especially for Earth Observation. For instance, our R&D teams develop scalable solutions based on artificial intelligence models to perform automatic and generic feature detection from satellite images allowing to minimize tedious eye-scanning of vast swathes of land and focus on tasks where human expertise is critical.  

Role in the project: In the frame of AI4Copernicus project, TAS with Mrs. Michelle Aubrun, leads the WP2 ‘User requirements and acceptance’ with whose objectives are to collect the operational needs from users, to match them with AI4EU and project solutions, and to assess the impact of the project developments on the economy, society and environment. More specifically, Thales Alenia Space will describe user scenarios for the Open calls, specify high-level user requirements, and define approaches to validate the solutions developed. The partner contributes also to WP1 ‘Project Management’,  WP3 ‘Technical positioning and architecture’, WP4 ‘Implementation, customisation, integration and testing’ and WP7 ‘Exploitation, Communication and Dissemination’

Partner website: https://www.thalesgroup.com/en/global/activities/space


Founded in 1957 in Fontainebleau, INSEAD is one of the world’s leading graduate business schools. With campuses in Europe (France), Asia (Singapore), Middle East (Abu Dhabi) and alliances with top institutions, INSEAD’s business education and research spans around the globe. Its 149 renowned faculty members from 40 countries inspire more than 1.400 students in its degree and PhD programmes. In addition, more than 11.000 executives participate in INSEAD’s executive education programmes each year.

Role in the project: Prof. Theodoros Evgeniou leads the INSEAD team which contributes to WP2, WP6 and WP7, in the design and analysis of the business & policy aspects of the surveys to be conducted and by improving the understanding of the partnership concerning the barriers and challenges for adopting Artificial Intelligence technologies that leverage Copernicus and Earth Observation data.  It participates in the collection of operational and business needs from users, and prioritise their feedback. This will allow to derive clear requirements for the solution design and implementation phases matching those with the services and tools made available and developed during the project.

Through these efforts, INSEAD will also provide input for the Open Calls published by the Consortium to support projects that can demonstrate the needs and the sustainability of the project. INSEAD will also participate in defining the approach and methodology for the prototype validation and evaluation with relevant stakeholders and end-users.

Partner website: https://www.insead.edu/

Thales Six (THA)

Thales is a leading international electronics and systems group, serving Defence, Space, Ground Transportation, Security, supported by a comprehensive services offering. The group’s civil and defence businesses develop in parallel to serve a single objective: the security of people, property and nations. Leveraging a global network of high-level researchers, Thales offers a capability unmatched in Europe to develop and deploy critical information systems. Thales Six is a subsidiary of the Thales Groups. As part of Thales SIX GTS’ research facility at the École Polytechnique campus in Palaiseau, near Paris, the Secure Communications and Information Systems Global Business Unit has created ThereSIS, a research laboratory dedicated to developing security technologies to protect people, property and critical information systems. ThereSIS aims to consolidate and expand this capacity to manage complex electronic systems used by millions of citizens.

ThereSIS innovation lab focuses on vision, autonomy and perception systems, network security and cyber protection, adaptive systems and bio-inspired simulation. The vision and sensing domain develops technologies dealing with video analytics, perception and robotics and is specialized in critical infrastructures monitoring and transportation.

Role in the project: Dr Andreina Chietera leads the Thales Six team which contributes to WP5 ‘Bootstrapping AI4Copernicus with high-impact services’. In the context of the agriculture use case, Thales Six will investigate the use of semi-supervised and self-supervised learning approaches for land classification in satellite image time series. In particular, the intent is to evaluate the temporal aspect through recurrent neural network models and infer the feature changes over time via a self-supervision approach coupled with a time series anomaly analysis. 

Thales Six will be also involved in the WP2 ‘User requirements and acceptance’. In this context, Thales Six will investigate the AI tools already available for satellite data manipulation. This activity will end up on a report aiming to review the main software implemented on the DIASes, on AI4EU platform, but also in literature mentioning the main githubs that could be useful for the development of WP5.  This analysis will lead to a classification on these tools on the basis of the domain of application, on the product type delivered and on the kind of AI approach they applied. Thales Six also takes part in WP7 ‘Exploitation, Communication and Dissemination’. Leveraging on the Thales Six role as Coordination of AI4EU, the partner will support AI4Copernicus activities with respect to integration with the AI4EU platform and exploitation.

Partner Website: https://www.thalesgroup.com/en

European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF)

ECMWF is both a Research Institute and a 24/7 operational service, producing numerical weather predictions for its Member and Co-operating States as well as users around the world. ECMWF carries out scientific and technical research and analysis aiming to continuously improve global prediction. ECMWF processes in its high-performance computing facility large amounts of observations to provide up-to-date global analyses and climate reanalyses of the atmosphere, ocean and land surface.

Over the years, ECMWF’s partnership with the European Union has grown, and in 2014 ECMWF became an entrusted entity to operate the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) and the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) on behalf of the European Commission until mid-2021 and ECMWF is preparing plans for the next phase of the Copernicus Programme for the period 2021-2027. ECMWF currently operates from its headquarters, located in Reading, UK, and its data centre located in Bologna, Italy. Over the course of 2021, ECMWF will be opening additional new premises in Bonn, Germany. ECMWF has embarked on an exciting new initiative to explore the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in applications of numerical weather predictions.  

Role in the Project: Dr Vasileios Baousis leads the ECMWF team, which will contribute to WP5 Bootstrapping AI4Copernicus with high-impact services leading Task 5.4 ‘Health bootstrapping services and resources’. Also, in WP6 ‘Technology Transfer via AI4Copernicus Open Calls’ monitoring mainly the Open Calls on the health domain.

Partner Website: https://www.ecmwf.int/