European Satellite Navigation Competition 2017

by | Apr 11, 2017

From 1 April to 30 June 2017, the European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) “ the largest international competition for the commercial use of satellite navigation “ is once again in search of outstanding ideas and business models. Renowned institutions and regional partners are set to award prizes worth a total of over EUR 1 million in more than 20 categories.

Europe's Leading Innovation Network for Satellite Navigation

Satellite navigation is indispensable when it comes to accurate, reliable and continuous localisation. This technology is the fundament for a variety of current trends, including multimodal logistics, the Internet of Things & Machine-to-Machine communication, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or smart cities.

Ever since 2004, the ESNC has evolved into the leading innovation scouting mechanism in terms of Galileo-related applications across Europe and beyond. Moreover, the ESNC promotes the transformation of groundbreaking business ideas into market-ready products and new ventures.

Each year, the competition offers great advantages to more than 400 business ideas. It has already awarded prizes to more than 300 winners over the years, which represent just a fraction of the more than 3,700 innovative concepts submitted by over 11,000 total participants. Through an unparalleled network, including the ESA Business Incubation Centres, other incubators across Europe and the brand new E-GNSS Accelerator co-funded by the European Commission, the ESNC plays a decisive role in the realisation of these promising ideas by supporting the foundation of startups and creating high-tech jobs.

Commercialising Space for Europe's Competitiveness

The new EU Space Strategy's guiding principle is the extensive exploitation of space for the European economy and society, seizing the myriad benefits it offers on the global scale. One of the main objectives is fostering the European space sector's competitiveness globally by boosting the development of commercial space applications especially for startups, SMEs and young entrepreneurs. In addition, advancing Europe's space programmes and meeting user needs, especially when it comes to space data access to encourage alternative business models and technological progress, represent major goals of this strategy.

The involvement of the pan-European spirit within the EU Space Strategy is realised in the ESNC, by engaging multiple regions all across Europe with their own dedicated prize. Through a strong and high-performing industrial base, investments in new technologies, companies and the facilitated access to markets and to finance are highly stimulated.

Elżbieta BieÅ„kowska, Commissioner for Internal market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, emphasizes: The investment in space technologies and applications as well as the support of forward-thinking entrepreneurs and startups ensure Europe's increased competitiveness. To achieve this ultimate goal, the European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) and the Copernicus Masters are a proven platform for trendsetting technologies and business models based on Galileo and Copernicus to implement the new EU Space Strategy.

Within this context, this year's ESNC patronage taken over by Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), sets the tone for the innovation competition's pan-European mission of uniting the European regions and cities through the support of space-related businesses and future-oriented entrepreneurs, increasing the market and user uptake of Galileo.

The European Committee of the Regions attaches great importance to the new opportunities linked to the involvement of European regions in innovation networks, such as the European Satellite Navigation Competition. I have therefore gladly taken on the role of patron for the ESNC as of 2017. Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions

E-GNSS Accelerator

As the high-tech platform for pioneering satellite navigation applications, the ESNC is now additionally equipped with the brand new E-GNSS Accelerator. This programme is a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs and startups to accelerate their business case on a broad scale and bring their products and services to market. The E-GNSS Accelerator will run for three years and will directly support the winners of the ESNC 2017, 2018 and 2019. Thereby, the participants await even more prizes, services and three further business incubations worth an additional value of EUR 500,000.

ESNC Partners

In the ESNC 2017, special prizes are to be offered in partnership with the following institutions: the European GNSS Agency (GSA), the European Space Agency (ESA), the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI). Prototypes can also be entered into the GNSS Living Lab Challenge. The University Challenge, meanwhile, is explicitly designed for students and research associates. In addition, participants choose from this year’s confirmed partner regions: Asia, Austria, Baden-Württemberg / Germany, Basque Country / Spain, Bavaria / Germany, Catalonia / Spain, Estonia, France, Hesse / Germany, Ireland, Madrid / Spain, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, United Kingdom, and the Valencian Community / Spain. Stay tuned for more updates on additional ESNC regions.

Obtain more information at the official website,, comprising all relevant information on prizes, partners, and terms of participation involved in the ESNC.

Prizes for the Most Brilliant Applications

This year’s winners will take home prizes worth a total of more than EUR 1 million and be welcomed into the ESNC’s leading innovation network for global satellite navigation systems. Along with cash, the various prize categories offer primarily technical, business-related, and legal support in realising the winning business models. A jury of international experts from the realms of research and industry will also evaluate the winners of all the categories to select an overall winner, who will be revealed at the festive Awards Ceremony in early November 2017. Furthermore, three additional incubations, supported by the European Commission, will be awarded in front of a high-ranking audience.

Those who enter the ESNC also stand to benefit greatly from the opportunity to work closely with leading institutions and regional partners. The ESNC is geared towards individuals and teams from companies, research facilities, and universities around the world. Those interested can enter the competition from 1 April to 30 June 2017 at

International Kick-off Event in Brussels

The joint international kick-off event of the ESNC and the Copernicus Masters (Earth observation) took place on 5 April 2017 in Brussels, kindly hosted by the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the EU. The regional dimension as a propulsion component of the EU Space Strategy and the innovation competitions skyrocketing growth and entrepreneurship across Europe were hot topics of the roundtable discussions. The event offered the perfect chance to interact with the European space community and experience first-hand how the partners of the innovation network drive space-related topics. Use your opportunity to become part of the network and register now to boost your business idea with prizes at and

Festive Awards Ceremony and Space Conference

The festive Awards Ceremony for Europe's largest innovation competitions for commercial space applications “ the ESNC and the Copernicus Masters “ takes place in early November 2017. This exciting event brings together the important players of industry, politics, entrepreneurship and research to showcase the most disruptive space applications and discuss trendsetting developments in the satellite downstream sector and its various application fields.

AZO “ an Experienced Organiser

Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen (AZO) has been organising the ESNC in close cooperation with an international network of research, industry, and regional entities since 2004. By leveraging its extensive experience as a specialist in building and maintaining global innovation networks and organising related competitions, AZO supports business innovations and the creation of new companies, primarily in the field of commercial aerospace applications. Next to the ESNC, AZO organises the Copernicus Masters, the Space Exploration Masters, carries out the INNOspace Masters and manages the ESA Business Incubation Centre Bavaria  .  


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