European satnav competition open for submissions

April 10, 2017  - By

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 for accelerating Galileo applications.

Renowned institutions and regional partners are set to award prizes worth a total of more than 1 million in more than 20 categories.

Submissions are due June 30.

Innovation Network for Satellite Navigation

Satellite navigation is indispensable when it comes to accurate, reliable and continuous localization, according to the ESNC. This technology is fundamental to a variety of current trends, including multimodal logistics, the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and smart cities.

First held in 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 advantages to more than 400 business ideas. It has awarded prizes to more than 300 winners, which represent just a fraction of the 3,700 innovative concepts submitted by 11,000 participants. Through its network — including the ESA Business Incubation Centres, other incubators across Europe and the new E-GNSS Accelerator co-funded by the European Commission — the ESNC plays a decisive role in the realization of promising ideas by supporting the foundation of startups and creating high-tech jobs.

One of the main objectives of the ESNC is fostering the European space sector’s competitiveness globally by boosting the development of commercial space applications, especially for startups, SMEs and young entrepreneurs. Advancing Europe’s space programs 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 realized in the ESNC by engaging multiple regions across Europe with their own dedicated prizes.

“The investment in space technologies and applications as well as the support of forward-thinking entrepreneurs and startups ensure Europe’s increased competitiveness,” said Elżbieta Bieńkowska, commissioner for internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs. “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,” Markkula said. “I have therefore gladly taken on the role of patron for the ESNC as of 2017.”

E-GNSS Accelerator

As the high-tech platform for pioneering satellite navigation applications, the ESNC is now additionally equipped with the new E-GNSS Accelerator. This program 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 Best Applications

This year’s winners will take home prizes worth a 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 realizing 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.

Awards Ceremony and Space Conference

A partner program, the Copernicus Masters (Earth observation), also kicked off on April 5 in Brussels.

The Awards Ceremony for both the ESNC and the Copernicus Masters takes place in early November. The event brings together 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.