European Commission Launches Copernicus Accelerator

by | Jul 5, 2016

To speed up the user uptake of the European Union’s Earth observation programme Copernicus, the European Commission’s Copernicus Accelerator will now foster the development of commercial space applications and products.

Tremendous amounts of data from space – especially the kind produced by Copernicus – present countless opportunities, and are becoming an increasingly common component of commercial products and applications in numerous sectors of the economy. Fascinated by the possibilities in intelligent data analysis, young start-ups and scientists in particular are developing a growing interest in Earth observation and the big data it generates from space.

“The goal of the Copernicus Accelerator is to provide tailored support to new players who have innovative business ideas involving the use of space borne big data,” states Andreas Veispak, head of the I3 unit (Space Data for Societal Challenges and Growth) at the European Commission. “We’re very excited to offer a customised business development scheme to the 40 best applicants to this year’s Copernicus Masters competition.”

The Copernicus Accelerator Programme in detail
Until 18 July, individuals and teams from startups, SMEs, industrial companies, research institutes, and universities are invited to apply online for the Copernicus Accelerator programme while submitting their business ideas to the Copernicus Masters. The 40 best entrants in the competition, which must be either citizens of one of the Copernicus Participating Countries1 or have established their company in the territory of one of the Participating Countries, will then be selected for the programme by an international panel of experts by September 2016.

Through the Copernicus Accelerator, participants will receive support from experienced mentors and work with them on advancing their innovations over a period of several months. They will be able to determine the focus of this coaching, such as creating a business plan, acquiring their first customers, raising capital, etc.

Scheduled to last six to eight months, the Copernicus Accelerator will kick off with a boot camp that will invite all of its participants to Madrid from 24-26 October 2016. This event will form part of the Satellite Masters conference and the Awards Ceremony of the Copernicus Masters competition.

“This gathering will enable participants to meet their mentors in person, share their experiences, and take their business models to the next level,” reports Thorsten Rudolph, CEO of AZO, the company responsible for carrying out the Copernicus Accelerator programme and organising both the Copernicus Masters and the Satellite Masters conference. “The subsequent Satellite Masters conference will also be an excellent opportunity to connect with the who’s-who of the Earth observation industry, as well as potential customers, investors, and other partners.”

Do you have an idea that leverages the potential of Earth observation data to help overcome some of the biggest challenges of our time? Then apply now for your chance to obtain the support you need to turn it into reality!

Mentors wanted
Are you interested in helping the Copernicus Accelerator succeed by becoming a mentor and gaining access to the international Earth observation community? Experts in business, technical, and legal matters are welcome to apply to the programme’s organiser, AZO.


Copernicus Masters, the world’s leading Earth observation competition
For the sixth time, the biggest international competition in the commercial use of Earth observation data is on the hunt for outstanding ideas, applications, and business concepts that use such information in everyday life. Renowned partners are sponsoring prizes in seven topic-specific challenges. Along with cash prizes, the winners will receive access to a leading international network, corresponding data, startups funding, and other support valued at more than EUR 300,000 in total. The submission phase is scheduled to end on 18 July 2016. Over the past five years, the Copernicus Masters has already selected a total of 39 winners from among more than 1,200 entrants from 60 different countries, who have submitted over 700 cutting-edge business ideas.

AZO – an experienced organiser
By leveraging its extensive experience as a specialist in building and maintaining global innovation networks and organising related competitions, Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen (AZO) supports product innovations and the creation of new companies, particularly in the field of commercial aerospace applications. AZO has been organising the Copernicus Masters competition on behalf of ESA since 2011. The company is now also handling participant support, mentor matching, and the organisation of the boot camp scheduled as part of the Copernicus Accelerator programme on behalf of the European Commission.

European Commission – DG GROWTH
The Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROWTH) is the European Commission service responsible for: completing the Internal Market for goods and services; helping turn the EU into a smart, sustainable, and inclusive economy by implementing the industrial and sectorial policies of the flagship Europe 2020 initiative; fostering entrepreneurship and growth by reducing the administrative burden on small businesses; facilitating access to funding for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); and supporting access to global markets for EU companies. All of these actions are encapsulated in the Small Business Act; generating policy on the protection and enforcement of industrial property rights, coordinating the EU’s position and negotiations in the international intellectual property rights (IPR) system, and assisting innovators on using IP rights effectively; and implementing the EU’s space policy via its two large-scale satellite programmes Copernicus (for Earth observation) and Galileo (for global navigation), as well as research actions designed to spur technological innovation and economic growth.

SpaceTec Partners
SpaceTec Partners is an independent strategy, management, and communications consulting group with offices in Munich and Brussels. Its broad array of services includes strategy and technology consulting, communication activities, and interdisciplinary project management, which it mainly provides to public institutions (the European Commission, the European Space Agency, the European GNSS Agency, the European Parliament, national ministries, etc.) in the space and space applications domain. SpaceTec Partners also offers business coaching to startups and SMEs, and is an accredited coach by leading early-stage funds like Hightech-Gründerfonds and BayernKapital. SpaceTec Partners is deeply involved in Copernicus User Uptake and User Requirements gathering activities on behalf of the European Commission.

1The Copernicus Participating countries include all the EU Member States, in addition to Norway and Iceland


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