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European Satellite Navigation Competition opens for app developers

2 Apr 2012

The 2012 European Satellite Navigation Competition (ENSC) launches to the UK public to find the home-grown ideas that will drive innovation in the space sector and the everyday application of its data in technologies like smart phone apps and location-based services.

Uses of EGNOS in agriculture

Use of EGNOS in agriculture
Credit: ESA

There are thousands of pounds of prizes on offer to turn winning ideas into profitable companies and services that can benefit us all. The competition is open to anybody with an idea that makes use of satellite navigation, positioning or timing technology and prizes include thousands of pounds of capital, business support and office space, patent advice, and introductions to industry partners and funding opportunities.

The UK leg of the competition is organised by the University of Nottingham’s GNSS Research and Applications Centre of Excellence (GRACE), themselves experts in satellite navigation and is supported by sponsors including the UK Space Agency, the Technology Strategy Board, EADS Astrium, Logica and the Science and Technologies Facilities Council. It aims to commercialise new ideas and help a sector currently worth £7.5 billion a year grow into the £40 billion industry it could be in 20 years’ time.

Catherine Mealing-Jones, Director for Growth at the UK Space Agency: “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.  We know there is real growth potential from this sector, and we're trying to give innovators and entrepreneurs the chance to push the boundaries. I'm sure we will see some exciting and marketable business/application ideas which will capture the imagination of the judges and of investors and users."

Successful entrants in previous years have included:

  • Accident Assessor, last year’s UK winner assists in the aftermath of a traffic accident by reducing stress by guiding the user through the process of obtaining a positioning fix, taking photographs of the licence plates of all vehicles involved and storing these images for safekeeping.
  • G2Way is an application that helps farmers to deliver precision irrigation and other farming techniques. It accurately maps their watering and feeding of crops to avoid wastage. Whilst not a winning entry, the UK judges saw the potential in the technology and helped its owner develop the idea to a point where the company is now being supported by the European Space Agency’s incubation centre at Harwell, Oxfordshire.

UK space industry is currently one of the fastest growing sectors in the country and has been one of the few areas of the economy to experience continued growth through the recession. The Government sees the space sector as a “winner” and a fertile playground for entrepreneurship and creative business ideas yet the full potential of our space infrastructure is unrealised. The ENSC can help UK innovators fulfil that potential.

Tim Just, Lead Technologist for Space and Satellite Navigation at the Technology Strategy Board "While we are now familiar with SatNav in our Smartphones, the next generation of “SatApps” will come from the convergence of app developers and the space sector which provides the data upon which they are built. By better understanding the unexplored potential of the satellite data, technologists in the UK can lead this major new industry. This competition helps bridge the gap between satellite technology and consumer technology.”

Entrants can submit their ideas from Sunday 1 April until 30 June 2012. Further details about the competition, prizes and how to enter can be found at the UKESNC/Galileo Masters site.