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Copernicus Frontier Tech Challenge

Frontier technology solutions for Digital Copernicus

The Finalists 2022

Discover the best submissions to the Copernicus Frontier Tech Challenge below. Please note, that finalists are presented in an alphabetically order of their submission title.

Funding Cities’ Net-Zero Goals with Space Data, AI & Watering Campaigns

Team: Laura Lorenzo, Vika Oseyko, Oleksandra Bulenok, Nuno Correia, Ana Rita Santos, Miguel Almeida, Prof Dagmar Haase, Prof Vasco Mantas, Prof Kwi-Gon Kim

Cities are major drivers of climate change and particularly vulnerable to its effects, yet they struggle to access financial flows to implement net-zero programmes and address their citizens’ eco-anxiety. They do, however, have a relevant asset in achieving net-zero emissions and funding climate-related projects: trees.
Massive tree-planting schemes, a mega-trend in cities’ efforts to achieve net-zero, could also be a source of income through the sale of carbon credits. However, carbon markets are incredibly complex, and it is also discouraging when there is a low sapling survival rate due to a lack of watering support during trees’ first years of life.
Green City Makers simplifies the benefits cities can obtain from voluntary carbon markets while reducing eco-anxiety among citizens with space data, AI and civic watering campaigns. The data Green City Makers gathers from remote sensing, the IoT and open sources is integrated through the implementation of AI models in order to: a) identify urban trees that lack irrigation; b) calculate their water needs; and c) develop solutions for cities and our business model.
Green City Makers has been successfully implemented in 53 cities on three continents.

Improving the Speed of Earth Observation with Rapid BoA

Team: Morten Fjord Pedersen, Malthe Jensen, Kaare Madsen

Rapid Sen2Cor is a platform that enables better handling of Earth observation data. It uses deep learning models to accelerate the process of bottom-of-atmosphere (BoA) correction, which is a necessary step in remote sensing. This approach can convert a Sentinel-2 tile (Level-1C) into a useful tile (Level-2A) in less than 10 seconds instead of the normal 30 minutes. Along with time, there is also a significant reduction in the energy utilised by the hardware for data pre-processing.
This use of deep learning addresses the current problem in scaling Earth observation data, which involves simply buying more hardware. The computational requirements for hosting and correcting data are also directly responsible for many end-user limitations, such as rate limits and data availability. This approach can help combat these limitations while empowering new ways of handling Earth observation data.
The initial prototype for Sen2Cor exhibits higher than 99% accuracy for Sentinel-2. This approach to rapid BoA data can work with many different algorithms, which is why Sen2Cor will also be expanded to accelerate broader range of them.


Team: Dr Ron Hagensieker, Tomas Langer, Dr Francescopaolo Sica

Packedge is an onboard data compression tool that aims to compress true image data. The current architectures for satellite communication are not scalable enough to accommodate nano-satellites and the high quantity of Earth observation data they produce. Packedge addresses this issue by rectifying the bottleneck and enabling full utilisation of nanosats. This is beneficial for applications like disaster response, as rapid mapping is highly reliant on quick data delivery (which depends on the amount of data at hand).

RastLess – Serverless Visualisation and Analysis of Geospatial Data

Team: Marcel Siegmann, Thomas Heege, Adam Roe

RastLess is a serverless application that enables visualisation and analysis of spatio-temporal raster data in a cost-efficient, scalable and sustainable way. It combines state-of-theart cloud technologies with cloud-native geospatial data formats. Serverless cloud architectures are the most modern means of cloud computing. The cloud provider takes care of the entire infrastructure, which makes RastLess a maintenance-free software application.
Serverless architectures are based on a payper-use principle. This means that you only pay for the computation you need, making it very cost-effective. The serverless approach automatically scales to millions of users while preserving the speed of competing solutions.
Thanks to the optimal use of the underlying computational infrastructure, fewer resources are needed, which makes the system more- sustainable.
RastLess’ innovation makes it possible to analyse hundreds to thousands of raster images simultaneously within a few seconds. It also facilitates easy data management in handling all sorts of projections and resolutions.

Want to know the winner of this year`s challenge?
Then join the Space Awards @ NSE – New Space Economy Expoforum 2022 in Rome on 1 December.

The Challenge

ESA seeks entries that can demonstrate state-of-the-art technologies in EO, such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, DLT/blockchain, AR/VR/XR, mobile technology, Cybersec and Future of Cloud (hybrid/edge computing, confidential computing, and federated/decentralised computing) for Digital Copernicus. These enable the development of new products and services and address opportunities resulting from the European digital transformation.

Rewards 2022

Cash Prize
The winner will receive a cash prize worth EUR 10,000.
Get a chance to get on board with ESA PhiLab activity (PhiLab Explore and Incubed).

Additional Reward for the Overall Winner 2022

Cash Prize

EUR 10,000 if your concept gets selected as Copernicus Masters 2022 Overall Winner

Evaluation Criteria

Successful applicants will have identified a promising (possibly not fully developed) frontier technology to be applied to new or yet-to-be-developed products or applications using Copernicus data, or have developed a unique value proposition of frontier technology for Copernicus but not yet created a market-ready product.


Necessary teamwork and skill set and their credibility in selected frontier technology domains. Team composition and demonstrated technical competence balance of EO and other tech domains to achieve desired innovation impact.

Solution Description

Clarity and applicability of the solution to the specific problem to be solved. Relevant market analysis.

Technical Feasibility

Is the solution technically sound and implementable at scale? Is the engineering approach credible?

Digital Copernicus

Potential of the solution to advance Digital Copernicus agenda in upstream, midstream or downstream segment (convergence of EO and other emerging digital technology domains). Successful identification of appropriate research questions, technology development directions and challenges, anticipated R&D steps and results. Ability to open growth opportunities in new domains and market potential.

Frontier Technology Innovation

Relevance and use of frontier technologies. Potential to deliver "breakthrough" innovation introducing new technologies. Potential to improve current products or services. Specific relevance to new technology trends, new user needs or behaviours, while leveraging new business models.

About the European Space Agency (ESA)

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. To contribute to the success of Copernicus, ESA is exploiting its 35 years of expertise in space programme development and management. While the Copernicus programme is politically led by the European Union (EU), ESA is the overall coordinator of the Copernicus Space Component and will, inter alia, ensure the uninterrupted delivery of data from the Copernicus Sentinel satellites and an important number of Copernicus Contributing Missions at a national, European and international level. Following the launch of Sentinel-1A on 4 April 2014, the Copernicus programme has entered its operational phase, serving users with an ever-increasing mix of satellite imagery and other data.


European Space Agency (ESA)

Anna Burzykowska
Copernicus Officer
+39 06 941 88 378

Hall of Fame

Discover all previous winners of the Copernicus Masters!

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