New Partners and Prizes in the GMES Masters 2012

Following the highly successful debut of Europe’s innovation competition for Earth observation last year, the GMES Masters 2012 is set to begin tomorrow with further industry leaders as partners and a prize pool worth well over EUR 300,000. Participants will be able to submit ideas for innovative, market-oriented applications based on the use of GMES based Earth observation data between 1 June and 16 September 2012.

Oberpfaffenhofen, 31 May 2012: The GMES Masters competition was inaugurated in 2011 by the European Space Agency (ESA), the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and T-Systems with the support of the European Commission. For this year’s iteration, two additional industry leaders – European Space Imaging GmbH and Astrium Services – have joined the competition as partners. This has also expanded the GMES Masters prize pool to a total value of EUR 335,000. In addition to EUR 30,000 cash prizes, this primarily includes support for the commercial realisation of the winning ideas, data access, and the chance to enter the incubation programme of one of Europe’s six ESA Business Incubation Centres (BICs). The European Commission is also contributing data packages worth EUR 100,000 to this year’s GMES Masters.

The aim of this innovation competition is to seek out creative product ideas and promote the foundation of companies in Europe that tap into the potential of the European Earth observation programme GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) in unprecedented ways. In its first year, participants from 17 countries submitted more than 100 innovative ideas for applications to the GMES Masters. “The way the first GMES Masters really resonated with participants showed us that we had our finger on the current pulse in starting it,” states Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of ESA.

The competition invites students, entrepreneurs, developers, and SMEs to submit their cutting-edge, market-oriented business ideas at by 16 September 2012 in one of seven prize categories:

  • Ideas Challenge: The best market-oriented business idea related to GMES will win EUR 10,000 and the chance to enter the incubation programme at one of the six ESA BICs – an additional EUR 60,000 value.
  • ESA App Challenge: This challenge will give the entrant behind the most innovative smartphone app based on the use of GMES Earth observation data the opportunity to begin incubation at one of the six ESA BIC facilities in Europe (a EUR 60,000 value).
  • DLR Environmental Challenge: The winner of this challenge will receive technical support in realising the best GMES application idea in the field of environment and energy.
  • T-Systems Cloud Computing Challenge: This challenge’s prize package includes support in implementing the best idea for using the cloud computing model “infrastructure-as-a-service” (IaaS) to provide access to Earth observation data through a user-oriented web portal or mobile devices.
  • European Space Imaging High-Res Challenge: Whoever submits the best application idea based on the use of high-resolution Earth observation data will receive a data package worth EUR 20,000.
  • Astrium Radar Challenge: Innovative ideas for using radar data that clearly offer more added value than current applications will have the chance to take home a data package worth EUR 25,000.
  • Best Service Challenge: Visitors to the GMES Masters website will determine the winning idea of this challenge, which will be awarded Earth observation data worth EUR 40,000 from the European Commission. The best existing services will also receive marketing support.

The competition’s overall winner, the GMES Master, will be selected from among the winners of the above mentioned individual challenges (excluding the Best Service Challenge) and will receive an additional EUR 20,000 in cash, as well as data worth EUR 60,000.

ESA providing participants access to Pilot GeoServer for testing purposes

As part of the first ESA App Camp (, which takes place at ESA-ESRIN from 18 to 22 June 2012, ESA has configured a pilot server with interfaces to available geodata to facilitate simple, centralised access to the data products of preoperational GMES services. This has made it possible to call up data in the categories of air, land and water on mobile devices. Atmospheric data offers, e.g. information on ozone levels in the air, and the land data can include elevation models or specifications on nutrients present in the ground. The information on water quality, meanwhile, contains data on chlorophyll and particle content or water temperature in specific locations, for instance. Through the GMES Masters innovation competition’s website the pilot server is now available free of charge to any GMES Masters participants interested in infusing their ideas with real data for testing and optimisation purposes. “We want to support  developers in familiarising themselves with the tremendous range of potential applications made possible by GMES and provide an easy way to access test data for their own ideas,” explains Josef Aschbacher, Head of the GMES Space Office at ESA- ESRIN.

GEODAN begins pilot project with schoolchildren

Last year’s winner, GEODAN, started a pilot project in April 2012 that actively involves schoolchildren in protecting the rainforest in western Borneo as “EarthWatchers”. “Our number of EarthWatchers has increased daily since April, and the DeforestACTION team on the ground in Borneo has been keeping them up-to-date on the local situation. Students and teachers alike are excited about the way this unique initiative enables young people to get involved in protecting our resources while learning about Earth observation and the natural dynamic of rainforests,” reports Dr Eduardo Dias of GEODAN. “EarthWatchers had a tremendous boost after winning the GMES Masters in 2011. The increased international attention we’ve received since the competition made it possible to connect to satellite providers such as Astrium, e-geos, GeoEye, and DCMii, who now satisfy the data needs.”

Innovative business ideas for using Earth observation data can be submitted at until 16 September.


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About the GMES Masters competition

The GMES Masters began in 2011 as an annual competition that awards prizes for the best projects and business ideas involving commercial GMES applications. Its purpose is to support the development of market-oriented applications that use data from the European Union’s GMES (Global Monitoring of Environment and Security) programme. Created by the European Space Agency (ESA), the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and T-Systems, this competition for Earth observation ideas also has the support of the European Commission, European Space Imaging GmbH, and Astrium Services in 2012. GMES Masters invites researchers, developers, entrepreneurs, and students to enter their application ideas into the competition between 1 June and 16 September 2012.

For more information, please visit:

For more information on the GMES programme, please visit: and

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