The Copernicus Masters competition enriches its content this year by launching a new and exciting feature funded by the European Commission - the Copernicus Accelerator - that gets high-level professionals involved in a never-before-seen coaching programme regarding space and innovative solutions for business and society. The beneficiaries of such coaching services are the finalists of the Copernicus Masters 2016, divided among the seven Challenges that composed the overall competition.

The criteria to become eligible for being a mentor for the Copernicus Accelerator programme were the following:
  • Employed with a legal identity registered in the territory of one of the Copernicus Participating Countries1, whose business purpose is focused on business consulting, e.g. business incubation centres, consulting companies, business intermediaries, university-based startup centres, innovation agencies etc.
  • Individual mentors that are nationals of one of the Copernicus Participating Countries, with a proven track record of customer references (preferably startups) that they have mentored in the chosen field of expertise
Mentors were also required to demonstrate experience in the Earth observation, ICT, mobile industry areas or in one or more topics of interest connected with the Copernicus Masters 2016 Challenges. This experience could be based on their own professional career or their mentoring references.

The chosen professionals2 will provide the finalists of all Challenges of the Copernicus Masters 2016 with a customised business development coaching service worth EUR 5,000 and will be remunerated at the end of the programme.

With their profound knowledge and expertise, mentors will help to turn the participants' promising ideas into reality and successfully enter the market, achieving measurable results in one or more of the following objectives:
  • Integration into an incubator
  • Win over a first client
  • Raising equity funding - angel, seed or venture capital
  • Reaching profitability level with a first product
  • Development of a new product line
  • First access to a foreign market (internationalisation)
The Copernicus Accelerator programme is comprised of different phases, for a total coaching support from six to eight months. The finalists of the Copernicus Masters are provided with a selection of mentors most suitable for their requests and needs. Since the mentors had to state their fields of expertise, both parties are matched accordingly. When a mentor is requested by a participant of the programme, he accesses the participant's profile and examine the submitted idea, in order to decide whether to confirm the request or not. Mentors could only advise up to two participants.

Mentors will officially meet their mentees at the Accelerator Bootcamp, that will take place in line with the Awards Ceremony of the Copernicus Masters, the ESNC, and the accompanying Satellite Masters Conference from 24 - 26 October 2016 in Madrid, Spain. This event will set forth the official start of their relationship, as mentors and mentees will begin developing a coaching plan together, that will include objectives and KPIs of their affiliation. This event represents indeed an excellent occasion to also join the international EO and GNSS community and benefit from AZO's global network of innovation and expertise.

Mentors will support the mentees until July 2017, and will then submit a final report together, detailing the outcome of the coaching experience. AZO will continuously monitor all relationships, in order to assist both parties and guarantee a positive outcome of the programme.

Being a mentor not only means supporting clever innovators in turning their ideas into pioneering applications. It also entails the participation to a unique networking event in Madrid during the Awards Ceremony of the Copernicus Masters 2016, thus becoming a member of the prestigious AZO EO and GNSS innovation community. Applications were open until 20 September 2016.

Download Non-Disclosure Agreement and Terms of Participation

European Commission - DG GROWTH

The Accelerator Programme is an initiative funded by the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROWTH) of the European Commission. The DG GROWTH is responsible for: completing the Internal Market for goods and services; helping turn the EU into a smart, sustainable, and inclusive economy by implementing the industrial and sectorial policies of the flagship Europe 2020 initiative; fostering entrepreneurship and growth by reducing the administrative burden on small businesses; facilitating access to funding for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); and supporting access to global markets for EU companies. All of these actions are encapsulated in the Small Business Act; generating policy on the protection and enforcement of industrial property rights, coordinating the EU's position and negotiations in the international intellectual property rights (IPR) system, and assisting innovators on using IP rights effectively; and implementing the EU's space policy via its two large-scale satellite programmes Copernicus (for Earth observation) and Galileo (for global navigation), as well as research actions designed to spur technological innovation and economic growth.

1 The Copernicus Participating countries include all the EU Member States, in addition to Norway and Iceland.
2 Please have a close look at the Terms of Participation for the details.

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