LS Engenharia Geográfica provides professional surveying services. The company’s core activity consists of the acquisition, storage, analysis, exploration and mapping of spatial data, with special emphasis on the production of cartography dedicated to the sectors of commerce and industry. In the context of geomatics its areas of activity are vast, although geodesy, hydrography and remote sensing can be considered specialisation topics, where teams equipped with modern instrumentation have a strong aptitude for carrying out activities on the field.
LS Engenharia Geográfica was created in 2019 and incubated at Instituto Pedro Nunes (IPN) in the ESA BIC Portugal incubation programme. The beginning of the business activity came from the initiative of its two managing partners who carried out the engineering activity independently. The key factors for business development were essentially based on investment in knowledge, research and technological development of new services related to terrestrial observation from space and in partnership with companies and educational institutions dedicated to activities related to the environment.
Image 1: The team of LS Engenharia Geográfica
Since its creation, the company has experienced significant financial growth through participation in public contracts, self-financing opportunities, marketing investments and participation in events. Currently, the company is running a project promoted by The Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission within the scope of the expansion of companies in technology and knowledge sectors. This allows LS Engenharia Geográfica to invest a very substantial part of its revenues in research and knowledge, in the acquisition of modern computer resources, and in the recruitment of staff with experience in scientific research. In addition to all these achievements, according to the company, the entry into ESA BIC Portugal represented a milestone of prosperity for the enterprise.
On her experience as an ESA BIC Incubatee, Sónia Fernandes, business manager at LS Engenharia Geográfica, says: “This initiative brought the company closer to the geo-spatial industry, also allowing direct contact with national and international institutions connected with space and opened up new opportunities for participation in internationalisation programmes. Internal and external visibility was also important”. Sónia also argues that “The programme made it possible to substantially finance the purchase of equipment for the development of our projects and the “obligation” to define very clear objectives for the direction of the company helped to catapult it to the center of the market that it seeks to reach”.
Image2: Sónia Fernandes, business manager at LS Engenharia Geográfica
The Space connection
Space technology plays a significant role in most of the company’s work, particularly Earth Observation programmes that capture multispectral images and RADAR, but also others, like the global positioning systems. LS Engenharia Geográfica combines the data obtained from orbital sensors with other data acquired by traditional techniques. However, the company tends to push the use of spatial technology as the main means of data acquisition for the production of specific cartographic elements, particularly those dedicated to hydrographic cartography.
Using geospatial technology has many advantages for the company’s work, for its clients and for the planet. Firstly, satellite data enables the company to cover much larger areas than traditional methods. Furthermore, the cost of acquiring space data is incomparably lower, but there is a whole investment that must be made in advance, to make the best use of this data. Finally, the company intends to reduce carbon emissions in the data collection process, which makes LS Engenharia Geográfica a green environmentally friendly company. In fact, one of the company’s main goals is to make a gradual transition to the full use of remote sensing techniques that allows it to offer services with characteristics of global application and carbon neutrality.
Image 3: Water basins detection on Odemira Municipality, with the Copernicus Sentinel – 1
The importance of the Copernicus Azores prize
In 2021, LS Engenharia Geográfica won the Copernicus Azores prize, awarded by the international competition Copernicus Masters. The company was recognised for its work in the theme “Monitoring the Environment, Soil and Pollution”, for using the Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite data to retrieve bathymetry in shallow areas with distinct levels of accuracy for different applications.
About this award, Luís Sousa, Surveyor Engineer in LS Engenharia Geográfica says that “The Copernicus Azores prize was a rewarding and important award to create partnerships and share ideas and knowledge with other international and national entities”. Regarding the opportunities that emerged after the award, Luís mentions that “The announcement of the award is still recent, so there has not yet been an evident impact. However, the recognition of merit through the awarding of the prize can, undoubtedly, bring benefits in the future”.
Image 4: Luís Sousa, geographer and co-founder of LS Engenharia Geográfica
Jorge Pimenta, the Coordinator of ESA Space Solutions Portugal stresses the importance of these awards for the Portuguese startups: “Azores in particular, and Portugal in general, are the home of many innovative start-ups that can disrupt different markets. The Copernicus Azores prize and the partnership between Portugal Space, IPN, IPMA, AIR Centre and Indico Capital, allows for LS Engenharia Geográfica to benefit much more than just a cash prize. By engaging directly with stakeholders, startups can get a closer perception of needs and allow them to better prepare their roadmap and market entry.”