Space App Developer Competition Launches

The ESNC calls out to entrepreneurs and developers to cash in on space-related ideas

Tomorrow will see the launch of the European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) – the annual event in which the space industry calls on the public to turn satellite data into useful applications, with thousands of pounds of prizes on offer.

ESNC will welcome registration and submission of business ideas and apps from April 1 until June 30.

Space, the final frontier

The competition aims to commercialise worthy ideas and help a sector currently worth £7.5 billion a year grow into the £40 billion industry the government says it could be in 20 years’ time, creating some 100,000 new high-tech jobs along the way.

That can only happen if the wider public realise that space isn’t just an academic sector – there’s lots of money to be made by people of all backgrounds. The smartphone revolution gave people both the platform and the tools needed to interact with the sattelites on a daily basis.

Suggested satellite data uses include everything from critical government services, such as emergency response coordination and offender tracking, to agriculture, fishing and logistics.

The competition is open to anybody with an idea that utilises satellite navigation, positioning or timing technology and prizes include thousands of pounds of capital, business support and office space, patent advice, introductions to industry partners and even a PR campaign.

The UK leg of the competition is organised by the University of Nottingham’s GNSS Research and Applications Centre of Excellence (GRACE), and is supported by sponsors including the UK Space Agency, the Technology Strategy Board, EADS Astrium, Logica and the Science and Technologies Facilities Council.

In September, an international panel of experts will meet in Madrid, Spain, to select the overall European winner – the GALILEO Master – from all the regional and special topic prize winners.

No oxygen, plenty of potential

“A lot of people still think satellite navigation starts and ends with the small box on your car dashboard that tells you to turn left or right. Location based services underpin a huge range of applications, and satellite time signals are used in everything from electricity distribution to stock market transactions. Despite this we’ve only scratched the surface of it in terms of how this data can transform our lives,” said Professor Terry Moore from GRACE.

“The European Satellite Navigation Competition is about bringing together two huge areas of potential – the data which is available from space, and the innovation and expertise that exists in the UK to exploit it,” shared her enthusiasm Catherine Mealing-Jones, director for growth at the UK Space Agency.

Last year’s UK winner Instantvue designed the Accident Assessor – a smartphone application that helps users follow the right steps after a car accident. Knowledge of the geolocation data allows the weather and traffic conditions at the time and place of the accident to be gathered from historical records, and automatic number plate recognition can be used to confirm the make, model and colour of the vehicles involved.

Another idea born from the competition was G2Way – an application that helps farmers deliver precision irrigation and other farming techniques. It accurately maps their watering and feeding of crops to avoid wastage.

You can find more information and register for the competition here.

Are you a patent expert? Take our quiz!