Turn your satnav ideas into business

Tracker for athletes
17 April 2014

Propose a great satnav idea and win a prize with ESA support to create your own business. Previous winners are now running companies with systems for athlete tracking and indoor navigation, and many are supported by ESA’s Business Incubation Centres.

Launched this week at the European Navigation Conference in Rotterdam, the annual European Satellite Navigation Competition recognises products, services and innovations designed to improve our daily lives with the help of satellite navigation.

Presenting ESA Innovation Prize 2014

ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme is again contributing the ESA Innovation Prize for the most promising satnav application that can be quickly developed into a profitable business.

Now a crucial 21st-century technology, satellite navigation is an increasingly attractive growth market. It is expected to grow by an annual average of 11%, reaching €244 billion by 2020.

In particular, start-ups and smaller companies stand to profit from this burgeoning field.

Our lives today are hard to imagine without satellite navigation – from conventional routing and location services to mobile apps for monitoring sporting activities. 

Europe’s Galileo satnav system

Following ESA’s tests of Galileo’s signals in early 2013 and with four satellites already operational, another leap in the commercial use of satellite navigation can be expected.

“Europe’s entrepreneurs, smaller companies and industry can now seize the opportunity to create value-added applications for the downstream satellite positioning and navigation market, where several technologies are converging to make ‘ubiquitous positioning’ a compelling reality,” emphasises Matthias Petschke, director of the European Commission’s satnav programmes. 

European Satellite Navigation Competition

ESNC 2014 participants at ENC 2014 in Rotterdam

For the 11th time, the competition is calling for services, products and business innovations that use satellite-based navigation to improve everyday life. It gives entrepreneurs from industry, research and universities the chance to present value-added business applications for the emerging satnav market.

Individuals and teams can benefit from cooperating with more than 20 partner regions and a number of key organisations, including ESA, DLR German Aerospace Center, GSA and the European Patent Office. Students and research assistants can participate in the University Challenge.

In addition to cash prizes, winners can receive assistance from one of ESA’s and other European business incubation centres for turning their satnav ideas and business models into reality.

ESA Business Incubation Centres

“Since its launch in 2004, the European Satellite Navigation Competition has fostered the created of successful start ups, many of them have taken the offer to grow their ideas into businesses in one of our 9 and in near future 11 ESA business incubation centres,” said Frank M. Salzgeber, Head of ESA's Technology Transfer Programme Office.

“Boosting entrepreneurship and using the innovation our space programmes offer is our business,”

Novel guiding from ESA winner

Sensovo Navipal

Last year's winner of the ESA Innovation Prize was the German start-up company Sensovo. Their idea is a belt that helps to navigate using vibration instead of using a screen or audio instructions. For a wearer the Navipal belt becomes like a sixth sense and directions can be taken intuitively.

“Our belt can help people to navigate without having to watch a map on a PC or phone. Tourists, emergency services, cyclists, motorcyclists, and the visually impaired, just to mention a few, can benefit from such a way of navigating,” says prize winner Jan Walter Schroeder, Sensovo CEO.

ESA Innovation Prize 2013 winners

“We plan to start our company at the ESA Business Incubation Centre (BIC) Darmstadt and with its help to turn our idea into a successful business.”

Interested entrepreneurs, start-ups and students can participate at www.esnc.info. Deadline for submitting proposals 30 June 2014.

Following the contest ideas can be submitted to one of the ESA BICs

The competition is organised by Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen.

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