Copernicus Masters triples prize pool for 2017 innovations

April 10, 2017  - By

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This year’s edition of the Copernicus Masters — Europe’s innovation competition for Earth observation (EO) — offers a prize pool of more than €1.5 million.

In addition, the European Space Agency (ESA) is opening the competition to upstream entries with its Sentinel Small Sat (S^3) Challenge.

The European Commission (EC) is hosting a total of six challenges thatenrich the overall Copernicus Masters prize portfolio.

Moreover, the EO innovation competition is now accompanied by dedicated Associated Regions that highlight its European regional dimension.

Finally, the Overall Winner will be invited to attend the satellite launch of ADM-Aeolus in Kourou, as well as receiving a cash prize.

Open to future-oriented teams and individuals from business, research and higher education, the Copernicus Masters is the largest international competition in the commercial use of Earth observation data. The competition is in search of outstanding ideas, applications and business concepts that make use of bespoke information in everyday life.

June 30 is the submission deadline.

“We’re very proud to have seen the Copernicus Masters develop into one of the innovation drivers for Earth observation in the last years,” said Josef Aschbacher, director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes. “The launches of additional Sentinel satellites will continuously boost the commercialization of related services.”

ESA Makes the Copernicus Masters Go Upstream

ESA has annually provided a challenge since the competition’s initiation. The 2017 challenge is the next level of growth.

The winner of the Sentinel Small Sat (S^3) Challenge will be awarded EUR 1 million for the design and development of the mission, and shall be provided with a launch service free of charge. In addition, the winner will receive EUR 10,000 cash prize.

The goal of this challenge is to stimulate ground-breaking satellite design, testing and manufacturing solutions leading to small missions complementary, or providing added value to current Sentinel family missions.

Six Additional EC Challenges

The EC is deeply involved in the Copernicus Masters with six new EC Challenges. Each challenge is topic-specific: sustainable development, government, big data, B2B, Copernicus services and security. The winner will be rewarded with a cash prize of EUR 5,000.

Moreover, the winner will benefit from a substantial satellite data quota worth the same value. These new features powered by the EC complement the EC program Copernicus Accelerator. The top 50 entrants of the Copernicus Masters have the opportunity to join the Copernicus Accelerator — a tailored business coaching service.

“The popularity of the Copernicus Accelerator program results mainly from its unique characteristic: involving future-oriented entrepreneurs as mentees and high-level professionals as mentors,” said Philippe Brunet, director of Aerospace, Maritime, Security and Defence Industries, EC. “The perfect interaction between these two core assets of the tailored business coaching service is what makes this EC programme so unique.”

With support from its international network, the Copernicus Masters aids participants in realizing their applications and business models. This year’s edition once again features challenges and corresponding prizes to be awarded by a series of prominent partners, including ESA, the EC, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Stevenson Astrosat Ltd., Satellite Applications Catapult Ltd., CGI, and the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.

The University Challenge, meanwhile, is geared specifically towards students and research employees. The topics addressed by these challenges will include innovative uses of Earth observation data in the fields of upstream services, energy, health and the environment, disaster management, sustainable living, big data, digital transportation, and smart cities.

Copernicus Masters Value Chain Boosts Sinergise to Next Level

Sinergise is a significant startup that experienced a major boost through winning the Copernicus Masters and being part of the Copernicus Accelerator 2016. The Sinergise story showcases how smart use of big data from space enables new types of business.

Before submitting their idea to the Copernicus Masters in 2016, the Sinergise team already had a working solution, but only very few users. “Becoming the Overall Winner of the competition and benefitting from the follow-up coaching service provided by Francesco Liucci from Catapult, within the Copernicus Accelerator framework, helped us to boost our idea even further and to gain confidence from experts worldwide,” said Grega Milcinski, CEO of Sinergise. The company’s newly released EO Browser has the impressive number of 1.1 million processed requests by nearly 12,000 users.

Europe’s Leading Earth Observation Innovation Competition

Since 2011, the Copernicus Masters competition has evolved into the leading innovation platform for promoting user uptake of Earth observation data in a commercial and societal context. “The Copernicus Masters scouts and showcases new ideas and trends each year,” said Thorsten Rudolph, managing director, AZO. “Put into figures, the competition already selected a total of 50 winners from among more than 1,200 entrants from 50 different countries, who have submitted over 900 cutting-edge business ideas. Each year, we are honored to have Europe’s most renowned space stakeholders host their own prizes in topic-specific Challenges.”

Along with cash prizes, the winners will receive access to an international network, corresponding data, startup funding and other support valued at more than EUR 1.5 million in total.

For all of the details on this year’s prizes, partners and terms of participation, visit the Copernicus Masters website.

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.