Copernicus – the European Union’s Earth Observation Programme – invests in different stages of start-ups to support the growth of Copernicus-based businesses in Europe as well as user uptake for Copernicus-based products and services. It is composed of:
The Copernicus Prizes innovation competition (aka Copernicus Masters) is designed to support the development of Copernicus-related entrepreneurship by eliciting and rewarding projects and business ideas that make use of Earth Observation data, primarily generated under Copernicus. Enterprises, scientific institutions, and individuals are entitled to participate. Several prizes are awarded within different categories, and an overall winner will be selected to receive a cash prize.
Copernicus Hackathons are sprint-programming events where participants use Copernicus data to develop software solutions (prototype or proof-of-concept) that address defined problems or themes such as sustainability, health and wellbeing, or hunger. Participants receive mentoring during the event, and winning teams may receive cash prices and access to Copernicus data, participation in the Copernicus Accelerator other incubation or acceleration programmes.
The Copernicus Accelerator supports existing start-up concepts and finetunes the technical and business aspects of their products or services. It is composed of a 12-month coaching programme, providing mentoring from a personal coach, boot camps, training, and networking opportunities with the Earth Observation community and investors.
The incubation initiative invests in the start-up phase and the international growth of Copernicus-based businesses in Europe. It supports European (legal presence in Europe, Norway, or Iceland required) innovative, commercially promising businesses that make use of Copernicus data and services. Copernicus Incubation provides equity-free funding – awarding 50,000 EUR to 20 European start-ups every year – and is complementary to other support programmes.
The Copernicus Start-up Programme is boosting the use of Copernicus Earth Observation data and services by current or future businesses – supporting different stages from idea to commercialisation. The top domains of start-ups accelerated in 2019 have been agriculture, insurance, energy, maritime, and security. Other common domains include e.g. forestry, transportation, or smart cities. The different challenges of the Copernicus Masters cover thematic areas and application fields, such as Agriculture, Cloud, Big Data, data visualisation, smallsats, urban, disaster, environment, energy, health, and many other. The programme is thus an opportunity for researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs, or enthusiasts from different sectors and with diverse backgrounds to turn innovative ideas into reality. While developed specifically for Copernicus, other such programmes exist such as the PARSCEC Accelerator that targets specific types of innovators (i.e. SMEs, start-ups, researchers, and entrepreneurs) and sectors (i.e. Food, Energy, and Environment) or the ESA Business Incubation Centres for more mature start-ups. These programmes are not mutually exclusive but complement each other.