On 21 April, 2015 the two leading innovation competitions in GNSS and Earth observation – the 12th European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) and the 2015 Copernicus Masters – have been officially kicked off in London at the House of Commons. The event was the opportunity to join some of the key stakeholders of space institutions and industry in taking the best of innovation to the marketplace and glimpse the volume of innovative space applications. Attendees included representatives from European Space Agency (ESA), European GNSS Agency (GSA), German Aerospace Center (DLR), European Space Imaging (EUSI), T-Systems International GmbH, Satellite Applications Catapult, and the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI).
“Those who enter the competitions benefit in particular from our world-class partner network, which provides them with tailored support in developing their business concepts and bringing them to market,” explains Thorsten Rudolph, managing director of the organising company of both competitions, Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen.
Delivering the keynote speech, Maureen Kinsler, Partner and European Patent Attorney, Marks and Clerk commented: “The space sector is seeing an influx of new companies coming up with innovative applications for satellite technology, benefiting many different kinds of industries. Many of the companies we work with have benefitted from the support given by public organisations and the initiatives they run, like the European Satellite Navigation Competition. With this support, they are much better equipped to turn good ideas into successful businesses.”
The European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) annually is looking for services, products, and business innovations that use satellite navigation in everyday life. Having started in 2004 with three partner regions, the ESNC has since grown into a leading global network of innovation and expertise in the field of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). This year prizes will be awarded by some of the most relevant institutional GNSS stakeholders. In addition, more than 20 partner regions from all over the world will host regional challenges. The prize pool of the ESNC 2015 has a value of about EUR 1 million. Prizes include cash awards, business incubation, business coaching, patent consulting, technical support, access to testing facilities, prototype development, publicity, marketing support and much more.
Since 2011, the annual Copernicus Masters competition is awarding prizes to outstanding ideas, applications, and business concepts that utilise Earth observation data for commercial purposes and socially relevant projects. Participants can choose from various topic specific challenges that will be awarded by an array of prominent partners. Along with cash prizes, the winners will receive technical support in realising their ideas, access to satellite data, and start-up support from a prize pool worth a total of more than EUR 300,000.
The international kick-off event was hosted by the Satellite Applications Catapult, which is supporting both of the competitions. Stuart Martin, CEO of the Satellite Applications Catapult, said: “Following last year’s record number of UK entries to the ESNC, and the response we had to our 2014 Copernicus Masters challenge, we’re very keen to build upon these successes, given our commitment to helping entrepreneurs and innovators take their ideas or solutions and turn them into commercially viable products or services. Some of the past competitions’ winners have gone onto generate great success, so I would strongly encourage any entrepreneurs or businesses with an idea in either satellite navigation or Earth observation to enter one or both of these competitions.”
One of the success stories was told by as Charlie Davies Co-Founder and Director of iGeolise, the winner of the 2012 ESNC’s UK Challenge. “Naturally, media interest in a business often follows the announcement of a competition win. Such coverage, from mainstream national papers and trade publications, can be invaluable. Winning the competition transformed our business. On the strength of winning, we achieved national publicity which brought in our very first client. This acted as a springboard to attract further clients and by the end of 2014, we turned over in the region of £1m,” says Charlie. “If someone’s got two hours free, they should enter the competition – and frankly, if they haven’t got two hours free, they should make two hours! It will transform their business.”
Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen – 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. Since 2011 AZO has been carrying out the Copernicus Masters competition on behalf of ESA. By leveraging its extensive experience as a specialist in building and maintaining global innovation networks and organising related competitions, the company supports product innovations and the creation of new businesses, particularly in the field of commercial aerospace applications. www.anwendungszentrum.de