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The European Space Agency (ESA) has launched ‘Space in response to Covid-19 outbreak’ funding, which invites companies to submit their ideas to help solve challenges in the event of a global emergency such as the coronavirus.

The Announcement of Opportunity (AO) has been launched in partnership with the Italian Minister for Technological Innovation and Digitalisation and the support of the Italian Space Agency and other countries.

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Under this initiative, it is looking for demonstration projects dedicated to the implementation of pre-operational services that address the topics of healthcare or education during the emergency in Europe, especially Italy.

According to the AO, solutions must be based on at least one space asset including satellite communications, Earth observation, satellite navigation or human spaceflight technologies.

These services will be deployed in local communities in Italy and can be implemented and demonstrated in other geographical areas and countries facing such extraordinary circumstances.

ESA telecommunications and integrated applications director Magali Vaissiere said: “We are keen to support European companies in developing and deploying their best ideas to respond to the current crisis, evidencing the contribution that space can bring in these circumstances.

“A fast-track approach has been put in place to respond to the impellent needs of citizens and institutions. We are pleased to work with the Italian Minister of Innovation and Digitalisation to launch the initiative in Italy and reach out to local communities.”

Last month, ESA revealed its decision to scale-down operations at its mission control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, as the virus continues to spread.

Various actions, including temporarily suspending instrument operation and data gathering on four Solar System science missions, were undertaken.

Confirmed Covid-19 cases have reached 802,726 globally while the death toll from the outbreak stands at 39,051.

With 105,792 confirmed cases and 12,428 deaths, Italy is the world’s second-most coronavirus infected country.