May 18, 2011

GMES Masters Innovation Competition Now Underway

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With today’s contract signature, Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA); Martin Zeil, Bavarian Minister of Economic Affairs; and Thorsten Rudolph, CEO of Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen (AZO) officially kicked off the GMES Masters innovation competition. The goal of this competition is to promote more widespread use of Earth observation
data from the European GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) programme, thereby driving its advancement in the area of service applications. This ambitious project will be financed with nearly EUR 1 Million over the next three years, with ESA contributing half of it and the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and T-Systems co-financing the remaining amount.

Observing Earth through GMES

Along with the European satellite navigation system Galileo, GMES represents the second flagship programme in the area of Europe’s space activities. While GMES is politically led by the European Union (EU), ESA is the coordinator of the GMES Space Component and, inter alia, responsible for the development of new GMES dedicated earth observation satellites – the “Sentinels” – which will begin providing data for GMES services in 2013. This information, together with other space-based and in-situ data, will further our understanding of the biospheric interrelationships on our planet, in particular with regard to sustainable resource management as well as safety and security for the EU citizens. It will also facilitate more extensive environmental observation and our understanding of the evolution and the effects of climate change. Finally, the availability of highly precise and up-to-date information will improve our capability to better manage the consequences of natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods.

Europe is already well- known for its involvement in and particular interest for the domain of Earth observation: ESA as Europe’s space agency has designed and launched an important number of earth observation satellites over the last years. Furthermore, through its Technology Transfer Programme ESA has also provided a major boost to the Image may be used for non-commercial purposes. © ESA/Anneke Le Floc’h development of commercial applications based on space technology, including earth observation. Also Bavaria is setting a solid example in this context and is well positioned in terms of both research and commercial use, the latter involving companies ranging from global corporations all the way down to small and medium-sized enterprises. DLR’s Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information (ZKI) in Oberpfaffenhofen provides current situational information to response teams around the world and its Earth Observation Center (EOC) constitutes a key element of ESA’s data reception, processing, and
distribution chain.

Innovative Earth observation services present many benefits for citizens Under the organisational direction of Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen, the GMES Masters will allow the European research and industry community – along with their students and entrepreneurs – to profit from the diverse application areas of the GMES programme by devising new, commercially viable and user-oriented services benefitting the European citizens.

In addition, the competition is intended to further increase the overall awareness of GMES and to contribute to major societal and economic benefits to the EU citizens, in line with the EU’s Europe 2020 Strategy. Finally, the GMES Masters will promote collaboration among companies and research institutions at the European level. This project is expected to initiate the creation of new start-up companies which could become eligible to receive professional support at one of the five ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs). A good example is Agrista GmbH, a German start-up company at the ESA BIC Oberpfaffenhofen, which has developed an online platform that uses GMES remote sensing data to help farmers gaining easier access to investors and thus increase food production levels.

GMES Masters – an annual innovation competition The GMES Masters is planned to take place on an annual basis, with its inaugural 2011competition scheduled to run from 1 July to 15 September. During this period, participants will be able to submit existing services and new application ideas to the online database at As co-initiators of the project, ESA, DLR and T-Systems will each award their own topic-specific prizes. The overall winner – the GMES Master – will be chosen from among the winners of these challenges and receive a cash prize. The search for the best Earth observation services will culminate in an award ceremony to be held on the evening of 19 October 2011 in Munich.

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