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Munich Start-up Building Radar Wins Copernicus Masters Competition

October 21, 2015  - By


Building Radar GmbH — providing a global, satellite-based online database for new construction projects — has been named this year’s overall winner of the international Earth observation competition Copernicus Masters.

The award ceremony took place during the Satellite Masters Conference. The ceremony was held at the ddb forum in Berlin Oct. 20 and held in conjunction with the European Satellite Navigation Competition awards.

Thorsten Rudolph (Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen), Dr Josef Aschbacher (European Space Agency), Paul Indinger (Building Radar GmbH) and Ulrike Daniels (Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen). (Photo: Anna Kreuz)

Thorsten Rudolph (Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen), Dr Josef Aschbacher (European Space Agency), Paul Indinger (Building Radar GmbH) and Ulrike Daniels (Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen). (Photo: Anna Kreuz)

Founded in Munich by Paul Indinger, Leopold Neuerburg, and Artem Ostankov in 2014, the start-up came out on top in the competition’s European Space Imaging High-Res Urban Challenge and went on to edge out the winners of seven other categories for the grand prize. The Building Radar online platform, which already contains more than a million construction projects and over 200,000 company profiles, uses a custom-developed algorithm to identify new building projects around the world. Its customers include companies active in the new construction and maintenance sectors. With building project leads accounting for some EUR 72 billion in revenue each year, Building Radar makes it possible to verify online search results and track changes in projects by means of satellite imagery. The platform thus enables its users to monitor many different construction endeavours while providing much greater cost-efficiency than its competitors thanks to its innovative data research methods.

The Copernicus Masters’ EUR 20,000 grand prize was presented to Building Radar’s managing director, Paul Indinger, by Dr Josef Aschbacher, Head of Programme Planning & Coordination within the European Space Agency’s Earth Observation Programmes Directorate. “Building Radar’s innovative combination of Earth observation data including Sentinel-2 optical data, machine learning, and data mining has created an all-new service for the construction industry,” Aschbacher stated. “It also clearly demonstrates both the usefulness Copernicus provides to a wide range of sectors and the Copernicus Masters ability to discover market-oriented applications of Earth observation data.”

Since 2011, the Copernicus Masters has recognised each year’s best ideas for making innovative use of such data. The 2015 edition received more than 200 entries from close to 50 countries around the world. The applications submitted this year offer a fantastic glimpse of the next generation of Earth observation services along the entire value chain.

“Through the Copernicus Masters, we’re aiding visionary companies in bringing their innovations to market. Working with the European Space Agency and its ESA incubation programme (ESA BIC) has enabled us to assemble an ideal platform for providing these projects with long-term support,” explains Thorsten Rudolph, CEO of competition organiser Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen. “We’re proud to have witnessed a constant rise in the start-ups involved in commercialising Earth observation services since the Copernicus Masters was initiated in 2011 and are confident that the number will continue to grow with the launch of further Sentinel satellites. Meanwhile, it’s great to hear that we’ll have the chance to support Building Radar further at ESA BIC Bavaria follow its big win in this year’s competition.”

Much of the international Earth observation industry came together at the ddb Forum in Berlin on Tuesday for the 2015 Copernicus Masters Awards Ceremony. Along with the overall winner, those who emerged victorious in nine topic-specific categories took home prizes worth more than EUR 300,000 in total. These included cash, consulting, data packages, and other assistance designed to help the winners refine their ideas for an eventual market launch at one of Europe’s 11 ESA Business Incubation Centres.

As in the previous year, the awards ceremony was held in parallel with the Satellite Masters Conference. This afforded the winners the opportunity to introduce their ideas to the international Earth observation and navigation community and discuss innovations in space-based technologies and services.

The Winners

Since 2011 more than 700 participants submitted their innovative solution for business and society based on Earth observation to the Copernicus Masters. Many of the ideas submitted in previous years have been implemented and successfully launched into the market. Within the last five years, 40 winners have been awarded within the competition.

University Challenge
Foresight Crops – Insect Swarm Prediction Modelling, submitted by Dr Oluropo Ogundipe from University of Nottingham, United Kingdom.

ESA APP Challenge
Wave – The City Assistant, submitted by Patrick Wolowicz from software, Austria.

DLR Energy & Environmental Challenge
Beehive Locations – Monitoring Habitats with Satellite Data, submitted by Deepak Bhatia from Poland.

T-Systems Big Data Challenge
ImageQuerying – Real-time Image Analysis and Querying, submitted by Dr Dirk Tiede and Team from the Department of Geoinformatics – Z_GIS, University of Salzburg, Austria.

Smart Cities and Intelligent Transport Challenge by the Satellite Applications Catapult
eXude – Flood Monitor and Drain Effectiveness, submitted by Steve Lee from Stevenson Astrosat Ltd., United Kingdom.

NCMA Spatio-Temporal Data Visualisation Challenge
CybEarth – First-Person Visualisation of EO Data, submitted by Asst Prof Panagiotis Partsinevelos and Team from SenseLab, Technical University of Crete, Greece.

CLOUDEO – The Going Live Challenge
Crop Analytics – The Future of Farmland Diagnostics, submitted by Nicolas Ackermann and Team from Gamaya SA, Switzerland.

European Space Imaging High-Res Urban Challenge and Copernicus Master
Building Radar – Construction Detection and Monitoring, submitted by Paul Indinger and Team from Building Radar GmbH, Germany.

GEO Illustration Challenge
Two Halves Of One Heart, submitted by Dieter Pikulski from Germany.


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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.