Copernicus 100 Masters

Meet recent and past years winning solutions using Copernicus valuable geospatial information.


Meet the Copernicus 100 Masters

These success stories of the Copernicus Masters, ESA Space App Camp and Copernicus programme finalists and winners demonstrate how Copernicus Earth observation data can be used in a broad variety of application fields.

Get inspired by young entrepreneurs as well as startups and their solutions. Discover new success stories every month!

Europe’s Top 100 entrepreneurs tackling global challenges

Copernicus Masters, ESA Space App Camp Finalists and Winners and Copernicus Accelerator Participants

Innovative Solutions and Business Cases in many Application Fields

Success stories of Award Winning Applications tackling Global Challenges


Hotspot Mapper

2018 Finalist DLR "Environment, Energy and Health" Challenge

Businesses today depend on timely access to raw materials sourced from around the globe and want to be sure that their suppliers follow environmental best practices. Riscognition is developing automated services to provide remote monitoring of primary commodities within supply chain networks.

EOXPLORE and Terranea have teamed up to take their Copernicus Masters-winning service,, to the next level. The new service will automatically combine satellite imagery from two different Copernicus Sentinel constellations and data from social media and news portals to produce actionable intelligence that will improve a business’s understanding of its supply chain and the associated potential risks.
The automatically generated information will provide our business customers with regular updates from the field and improve their supply chain management.
The global economy depends on the timely arrival of raw materials for production. Riscognition will help reduce potential delays and disruptions for companies that rely on their supply chains from the other side of the planet.

Finalist’s Statement:

“The service was developed as a partnership between Terranea and EOXPLORE. Winning Copernicus Masters provided a much-needed boost to push the idea further. After taking advantage of the Copernicus Accelerator Boot Camp, the two companies were able to formulate a real business case that can be brought to market. The excitement and energy that was felt while attending the boot camp really invigorated the team, and with the help of our business mentor, we were able to focus on a short-term plan to reach our goal quickly. Competition is a fantastic motivator: Copernicus Accelerator not only encouraged us to move forward with our business idea, but also showed us that small businesses can grow into great companies.”


Name: Conrad Bielski


PRIMROSE – Harmful Algal Boom Forecast

2013 Winner Best Service Challenge

The international PRIMROSE project aims to predict the risk and impact of harmful algal blooms (HABs) along the Atlantic coast of Europe with funding from the Interreg Europe programme. HAB events usually involve dinoflagellates or diatoms – tiny, single-celled organisms that grow in the upper, sunlit layers of the ocean.

These can proliferate rapidly in favourable conditions, resulting in blooms that cover thousands of square kilometres. HABs can affect aquaculture not only through the accumulation of biotoxins in shellfish consumed by humans, but also by killing fish due to toxins, physical damage, and deoxygenation. Early warnings can facilitate effective measures to safeguard public health and private business operations. The objective is to provide an improved, automated system for forecasting HABs based on the knowledge and expertise gained during the ASIMUTH project (the winner of the Best Service Challenge 2013). The project will access real-time data from satellites and models, offshore data, and aerial surveillance to generate an improved forecasting service.

Winner’s Statement:

“PRIMROSE is effectively a continuation of the ASIMUTH project. The same consortium of collaborating scientists and experts are involved. Winning the Copernicus Masters Best Service Challenge in 2013 was crucial in raising both the profile of our work and related public awareness, which in turn laid the groundwork for a successful follow-up project proposal.”


Name: Joe Silke


Bird Watch: Linking Field and Satellite Data on Farmland Bird Habitats

2018 Finalist DLR Environmental, Energy & Health Challenge

Almost half of Europe’s territory – around 210 million hectares of arable and pasture land – is used for agriculture. The intensification of agricultural practices has led to a dramatic loss of biodiversity. The farmland bird indicator of the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme indicates a 52% decrease in the number of farmland birds since 1980.

Standardised field observations of farmland birds are collected in many European states. Linking this field data pool with the excellent legacy of Landsat and Sentinel would help better understand the consequences of political measures on a European scale. The team therefore wants to deliver a long time series of fine-scale habitat suitability information for all the farmland areas in Europe. To that end, they are using Landsat/Sentinel data cubes and linking them with CitizenScience data and the Common Bird Monitoring programme. The result is a timeline for every farmland pixel in Europe, which shows changes in habitat suitability for farmland birds. The results are visualised as maps or graphs. They want to establish a new way of looking at remote sensing data and the state of biodiversity in Europe.

Finalist’s Statement:

“The Copernicus Masters competition, and especially its coaching programme, provided us with many new insights into economics, product development, and the general possibilities available. It showed us the value of our service and gave us confidence to develop it into more than we had originally planned. We gained new perspectives on how to embrace our opportunities and what our future clients might expect from us and our services.”


Name: Sascha Gey


Cerberus: Solving World Problems with the Power of the Crowd

2012 Winner Copernicus Maters European Space Imaging High-Res Challenge
2012 Overall Winner Copernicus Masters

BlackShore’s Cerberus is a crowdsourcing platform that leverages the abundant brain power present in the gaming industry to support important causes. Cerberus is using game elements inspired by this industry to motivate a crowd of thousands to help convert satellite imagery into maps. While people play Cerberus, they contribute to the mapping of remote areas based on fresh satellite imagery. The advantage of using human mappers instead of machine learning systems is that they can recognise elements both directly (read: visually) and based on context (that is, taking the surrounding region into account). Besides the fact that BlackShore generates maps more quickly, thoroughly, and affordably than experts, it also raises the general public’s awareness of things that matter.

With Cerberus, BlackShore is targeting the social gaming community (with an emphasis on city builders) by providing satellite images that make it possible to zoom in from 10 metres to 30 centimetres per pixel. As people learn about and experience these real-world 3D environments, they not only help produce important information; the public is also encouraged to think critically about important things happening in the world, which promotes planetary awareness.

On top of crowdsourcing, BlackShore is planning a crowdfunding component that will enable the crowd to
purchase in-game items. Part of the resulting revenue will be used in the respective mapped regions to benefit development or aid efforts. For example, BlackShore can use the crowd to help fund new water pumps, solar panels, shelters, and so on. It is considering blockchain for this technology as a means of assuring players that their money will benefit the geolocation of their choice.

BlackShore was the Copernicus Masters overall winner in 2012 and also won the European Space Imaging High-Res Challenge for the theme “Cerberus: Map a Disaster”. In this case, Cerberus was focused on mapping inaccessible natural disaster areas using very high-resolution satellite data and asking the crowd to help map damaged infrastructure and buildings. At the time, BlackShore was undergoing incubation at ESA BIC Noordwijk. Its first operational campaign focused on mapping the extent of the damage caused by Hurricane Haiyan to support emergency services in coordinating their efforts in 2013. With the help of crowdsourced mapping, the system was able to produce operational maps indicating flooded areas, obstructed roads, broken power lines, and other damage.

Recent years have shown that the application fields for Cerberus are myriad. Nowadays, BlackShore is expanding its application fields for Cerberus to (for example):

  • Localising refugees
  •  Detecting illegal fishing
  • Solving food problems in relation to human conflict and climate change
  • Supporting sustainable food production to prevent deforestation


The Cerberus platform is supported by the European Space Agency and Earth on Amazon. In addition, the team is working closely with Airbus and European Space Imaging, which gives it access to near-real-time and ultra-high-quality satellite imagery. BlackShore is working with both very high-resolution data and open Copernicus data.


Winner’s Statement:

“2012 was some time ago, but the events of that year are still benefiting my company today. Winning the overall prize affirmed the viability of Cerberus, which is now one of the three globally recognised crowdsourcing platforms. The concept augments satellite imagery in its own way to connect the public to what matters.”


Name: Hans van ‘t Woud


FFSCat: Tandem Satellite Mission for Sea Ice and Soil Moisture Monitoring

2017 Winner Copernicus Maters ESA Sentinel SmallSat (S^3) Challenge
2017 Overall Winner Copernicus Masters

FSSCat is an innovative mission concept consisting of two federated 6U Cubesats in support of the Copernicus Land and Marine Environment services. They carry a dual microwave payload (a GNSS-Reflectometer and a L-band radiometer with interference detection/mitigation), and a multi-spectral optical payload to measure soil moisture, ice extent, and ice thickness, and to detect melting ponds over ice.

In addition to its remote sensing objectives, the FSSCAT mission will demonstrate the world’s first reliable optical intersatellite link (O-ISL) between two 6U CubeSats flying in low Earth orbit (LEO). The optical intersatellite link demonstrator is being developed by Golbriak Space OÜ, a space start-up located in Tallinn, Estonia. Golbriak has developed a technology demonstration with a full duplex O-ISL terminal that is 1.5U in size (15cm x 10cm x 10cm) with an 85mm optical aperture, which makes it suitable for LEO operations on coarse-pointing CubeSats (pointing accuracy < 0.5 deg). The terminal adopts a novel adaptive variable divergence laser mechanism with a seek-and-track pointing algorithm for hybrid payloads/platforms and an amplitude-modulated signal to ensure reliable optical communications at 1 Gbps at nominal intersatellite distances up to 2,000 km in LEO. In addition to establishing an intersatellite link, the terminal supports simultaneous imaging through the optical aperture and improves the attitude determination capability of the host satellite by mixing optical information in the attitude feedback control loop of the overall platform at hand.

Once commercialised, the terminal will enable license-free, high-speed communications in orbit. Spectrum saturation and licensing will become increasingly important issues in the coming years due to the emergence of megaconstellations. Optical communications do not require licensing to operate.

The solution enables real-time sharing of Copernicus data in orbit for the development of novel applications – machine learning in space, for example, or other applications that would benefit from the rapid use of Copernicus data in space.


Winner’s Statement:

“Copernicus Masters was the springboard that has allowed us to launch our in-space demonstrator into orbit. It allowed us to gain significant visibility among the main space players in Europe. We would not have been able to advance so quickly with our start-up without the support offered by Copernicus Masters and related initiatives.”


Name: Simone Briatore


Spottitt - Space Enabled Wind Installation Site Screening

2016 Finalist Copernicus Maters DLR Challenge

Spottitt helps clients in the energy, environment, and infrastructure sectors save time and money when siting and monitoring their assets by giving them access and the ability to perform complex analytics on satellite imagery. The team believes this is the most amazing (and underutilised) source of up-to-date global information that there is.

Spottitt clients generally want to understand the past, present, and changing situations on the ground in locations all over the world. However, they struggle with the following issues:

  • Onshore wind and solar developers spend 12 months and upwards of EUR 500,000 selecting a short list of sites with geography suitable for development.
  • Oil, gas, and electricity grid providers want to monitor risks and changes more frequently, but they are already spending millions flying, driving, and walking their grids.

Spottitt solves these issues by enabling our customers to get online and immediately match reliable, self-service, and sector-specific analytics using machine learning and other techniques with the latest commercial and open-source satellite imagery. Our products are bespoke, yet delivered in a fully automatic way on the image of your choice for any location in the world.

Spottitt provides a range of services, including land cover and habitat analysis, feature extraction (e.g. building recognition), provision of environmental indices (such and NDVI and NDWI), land motion, flood mapping, and change detection.

A growing number of their analyses are based on free and open-source Copernicus imagery from the Sentinel-1 and -2 satellites – for example, our 10m-resolution Land Cover Analysis.


Finalist’s Statement:

“Our involvement in Copernicus Masters enabled us to meet and gain valuable experience from a range of mentors and other startups in the exciting world of downstream applications. On top of that, being able to advertise your success in Copernicus Masters can help you stand out from the crowd as a start-up and present a seal of approval to clients.”


Name: Lucy Kennedy

spottitt Logo



2013 Space App Camp ESRIN
2013 Winner Copernicus Maters ESA App Challenge

A full one-third of global food production is lost post-harvest. To address this global food security issue, Cheetah’s novel approach combines crowdsourcing with Earth observation data and a focus on the production and transportation of crops in Africa.

Cheetah amplifies the voices of relevant entities (transporters, consumers, growers, and public and private officials) by allowing them to report shortcomings in their value chain. The award-winning app also enables these players to tap into chains of horticulture intelligence, which leads to better-informed decisions, reduced costs/higher profits for businesses, lower market prices for consumers, fairer prices for growers, lower post-harvest losses, and better intervention by public/private agencies. Cheetah explores how data collected by the human-vehicle sensor web (on border delays, for example) can be integrated with new information obtained by Copernicus. By helping to voice spatial and temporal issues in agro-food value chains, the app exemplifies the usefulness of Copernicus and crowdsourcing in post-harvest assessment and aids in reducing related losses. The Cheetah app also utilises AI to predict road pavement quality (RPQ) from motion sensors available in smartphones, which can be presented in maps so that findings can be corroborated by satellite observations. To facilitate the uptake of these technologies by other software developers, Ujuizi Laboratories has developed various toolboxes that provide advanced functionality for other mobile apps, including in connection with AI, crowdsourcing, offline maps, and turn-by-turn routing. Ujuizi Laboratories has also incorporated its own Ramani API into Cheetah.


Name: Valentijn Venus and team



2018 Finalist ESA Future EO Challenge

The Buildspot solution aims to provide an operational tool for monitoring construction sites and urban growth.

Based on Sentinel data analyses, Buildspot aids the construction/public works industry and local governments in:

  • Obtaining information in near-real time and being the first to take action at any construction site
  • Obtaining information on a global scale regardless of the local information system at hand
  • Monitoring and comparing urban zones and regions of interest
  • Determining legal indicators in urban settings

Buildspot replaces human movements and completes information requests. Its innovation relates to satellites (Copernicus data), which provide up-to-date data on a large scale (country, continent, global) through an automatic process without depending on national information systems. It allows Pixstart to offer its services all over the world, including in Africa and Latin America.

Meanwhile, Buildspot is not Pixstart’s first success. The company has built up experience through different products like Poolspot (its very first), which is dedicated to the swimming pool industry.


Finalist’s Statement:
“Copernicus Masters has made Pixstart part of the European community and given us the chance to meet Copernicus staff, as well as different companies and start-ups that have already developed and sold applications based on Copernicus data. The mentoring provided by the European Commission has helped Pixstart take a step back and expand our vision to a European perspective. It’s been a quality learning experience that has reinforced our foundations and helped us realign some aspects of our strategy.”


Name: Barre Richard


Hawa Dawa – EO Air Quality: A New Environmental Commodity

2018 Winner BMVI Digital Transport Challenge

Hawa Dawa aims to catalyse strategic action on urban air pollution by guiding cities, business, and citizens through the new commodity of environmental data, transforming one-dimensional data into smart data, and opening up new revenue opportunities. Urban air pollution is one of the biggest environmental, health, and socio-economic challenges of our time.

More than 90% of all cities worldwide with more than 100,000 inhabitants are not meeting the WHO’s air quality guidelines, which results in millions of premature deaths from respiratory and heart diseases, lung cancer, and brain damage and trillions of dollars in economic losses every year. To identify, understand, and address the scale and specific distribution of the pollution problem, we need access to vast amounts of data that provides coverage not possible through standard monitoring techniques.

Hawa Dawa covers the entire value chain with respect to air quality, from IoT sensor networks on the ground to Earth observation and atmospheric data. Our models are enhanced with data from the Sentinel-2, -3, -5, and -5P satellites, which enables us to produce maps of pollution across the entire spatial resolution spectrum. We have developed sophisticated machine-learning algorithms that integrate public datasets (along with our own) to provide complex, yet actionable products and applications. We can map data on pollutants geographically and spatially and integrate these insights into urban planning tools to help target air quality interventions. Our insights can be viewed in real time at the street level and used by our customers to design responsible local measures for tackling air pollution, such as eco-sensitive traffic management, health-based urban planning, and initiatives to support at-risk groups like the elderly or asthmatics.

Winner’s Statement:

“Winning a Copernicus Masters award has provided exposure to a new network of practitioners and EO data users with whom we can share insights as we develop innovative air quality products based on satellite data. The chance to test one of our key use cases, digital transport and mobility, through the BMVI’s challenge has helped strengthen our rationale for investing more resources in exploring the application of Sentinel datasets (in particular from Sentinel-5P). This is enabling us to provide a much higher level of granularity in the measurement of traffic-related airborne pollutants than current monitoring approaches. Through access to the full range of Sentinel-2, -3, 5, and 5P data, we’re now taking advantage of new opportunities at the hyperlocal, city, regional, and even global level. Ours is also one of the first companies to offer air quality data with full vertical integration, from the ground up into space.”



Name: Cassi Welling



SandMap – An Interactive, Real-time, Tangible 3D GIS

2017 Winner Copernicus Big Data Challenge

Could a teacher bring the classroom into the beach? It sounds impossible, but teaching can become more exciting thanks to SandMap, a tangible, interactive, educational GIS platform based on sand formations. Students reform sand contained in a box while EO information is projected dynamically onto the new morphology in real time. Users immediately grasp 3D concepts like contour lines, basins, coordination, and navigation, which promotes one of the most valuable cognitive skills: spatial intelligence. 

SandMap is more than a visualisation platform. It supports exercises in geography, history, physics, and decision making. Users can place miniature avatars on the sand to simulate real-time scenarios such as optimised firefighting, earthquake evacuations, or floods. Finally, through virtual reality, users can actually visit and interact with the places they have just formed.
SandMap can become a mainstream tool in STEM classrooms. For hundreds of thousands of education entities worldwide, special learning modules are offered apart from the platform itself for a fixed annual maintenance fee.

Winner’s Statement:

“Spatially educated citizens offer a high ‘return on investment’, especially in the EU. This is because the Copernicus-ESA space programme needs to be adopted by businesses in order to enhance everyday life. SandMap also promises to benefit a wide range of EO-related markets, including tourism (museums), public safety, emergency management, and urban planning. Copernicus Masters is the main gateway for social endeavours like this, and SandMap returns the favour by serving as an educational gateway for EO.”




Name: Panagiotis Partsinevelos

Sense Lab


Mobile Application for Detecting Aedes Mosquito Risk Areas

2016 Finalist ESA App Challenge

Zika, dengue fever, and chikingunya are viral diseases transmitted by the same mosquito, the Aedes species. In recent years the spread of these diseases has become a worldwide public health issue. Dipteron has developed an application for detecting Aedes mosquito risk areas based on artificial intelligence that combines satellite and ground data.

The app uses heat maps to identify zones where there is a high, medium, or low risk of Aedes mosquitos. It supports sanitary risk surveillance GOs and NGOs that are willing to develop mitigation measures for Aedes-borne diseases; these include firms, companies, and organisations with staff operating in countries at risk. Sentinel-2A and Sentinel-3 data will make it possible to analyse spatial relationships among areas with high levels of mosquito infestation and the locations of sites that are susceptible to larval development. Dipteron is currently being incubated at ESA BIC Darmstadt, Germany.

Finalist’s Statement:

“Copernicus Masters offers a huge boost to your product’s visibility on the market.”


Name: Ana Cristina Galhego Rosa


Flycom - GMS-GIS for Insurance and Flood Mapping Module

2018 Finalist Copernicus Masters CGI Big Data Big Business Challenge

Organisations are processing large amounts of data each day, and almost all of it has a geolocation component. Flycom wants to put advanced GIS and location-based functionalities at the fingertips of everyday business users. To fulfil this mission, they have developed GMS-GIS for Insurance.
Insurance has a strong geographical component. Geospatial data is critical in a variety of insurance segments. Some of the most devastating events addressed by our solution are floods. During the last five years, Europe has suffered over 100 major flood events, resulting in around EUR 6 billion in damage in 2016 alone. Using Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2, they are helping insurance companies and communities manage flood risk, assess losses, and coordinate teams after flooding events by identifying waterlogged areas in relation to individual policy locations. Through geospatial algorithms, remote sensing data, and advanced algorithms, Flycom has brought state-of-the-art tools that were previously available only to experts to everyday business operations in the insurance sector. Finalist’s Statement: “Copernicus Masters gave us the opportunity to build relationships with industry mentors, which has proved most valuable” Contact: Name: Filip Rojs, Anže Žnidaršič, Nejc Dougan Email: URL:


BeeNebula – Bee Activity Monitoring Using Satellite Data

2017 Copernicus Masters Copernicus Sustainable Development Challenge Winner

The company’s main product offers precise agricultural recommendations (for subscribers) and detailed statistical analysis of specific areas in terms of the production efficiency of select crops. An important element of the system is the meteorological layer and the layer that provides information on the local activity of bees (in the BeeNebulaApp™).
The multi-module application uses a variety of data to achieve higher spatial and temporal resolutions and provide accurate, reliable agricultural recommendations. The base data includes satellite images (MSG data, Landsat, and all generations of Sentinel) and a continuous signal acquired by ground sensors. Real-time processing gives subscribers access to up-to-date information about the condition of crops whenever they need it. The application is designed to help build a collaborative network among the many entities involved in shaping the space in which we live. It is geared mainly towards farmers, foresters, beekeepers, ecologists, local government officials, politicians, and the general public. Winner’s Statement: “The Copernicus Masters 2017 Award was a confirmation of the quality of our solution. Since winning it, we have noted an increase in interest in the results of our team’s work. The victory in the Sustainable Development Challenge gave us peace of mind and the basic financial resources we needed to continue our development and purchase the necessary materials. Thanks to our participation in the App Camp, we have become a member of a large European family that is creating business solutions based on the potential of Copernicus data. We met many interesting people and made some important contacts. Networking activities are particularly important in the world of innovation because they allow direct, immediate access to the results produced by other innovators. In 2018, we won the Gold Medal at the innovation fair Innova Valencia 2018. Our solution is still being developed, and we are currently in the process of creating a company. We’re looking ahead with hope and optimism!” Contact: Name: Mariusz Kacprzak, Institute of Aviation, Poland Email: URL:


ASIGN – Crowdsourced, In-Situ Visual Copernicus Validation

2012 ESA App Challenge Winner

Designed for use in disaster management and mission-critical operations, the ASIGN app is probably the most bandwidth-efficient solution for collecting and communicating high-precision geo-spatial photos and videos.

AnsuR entered Copernicus Masters with ASIGN, a product consisting of a web-based assessment and decision portal for geo-spatial visual data from drones, professionals and reliable crowdsourcing. Associated data collection and communication apps provide high-precision, geo-tagged in-situ photos and videos that are quickly available and merged with live mappings of Earth observation data. ASIGN is particularly optimised for very low bandwidth when communicating information, which means mobile satellite networks can also be used efficiently.

During the Thailand flooding of 2011, the apps ASIGN Crowd and ASIGN Pro improved flood assessments based on Sentinel radar images by using crowdsourced in-situ validation. The UAV version of ASIGN adds support for aerial observations.

Since being created within the FP7 project GEO-PICTURES in collaboration with the United Nations (UNOSAT), ASIGN has undergone further evolution. The solution is now used by the UN and other entities involved in disaster and security management, specifically in connection with UAVs and satcom. The apps are available for iOS and Android.

Winner’s Statement:

“Winning the Copernicus Masters and having our idea evaluated by third-party experts really boosted our confidence in the work we are doing. The win also paved the way for attracting further public investors and our application for H2020 funding.”


Name: Harald Skinnemoen, Ansur Technologies AS, Norway



2017 Finalist University Challenge

Varying data availability and quality is an obstacle to producing reliable information from images – especially for new users. Current image search engines return images as a list, which is difficult to comprehend if several hundreds or thousands of images are included. EO-Compass is a Web application that aims to provide spatially-explicit information about the image archive for any location on Earth in a visually appealing manner.

The use cases for EO-Compass include creating thematic maps of acquired images or cloud cover, obtaining descriptive statistics for a certain location, and determining the status of the Sentinel-2A and -2B satellites (e.g. their current position and predicted orbit). EO-Compass is a meta-tool that helps users better understand the data available in image archives (including spatio-temporal characteristics) and fosters the uptake of Earth observation data in new domains. Finalist’s Statement: “Copernicus Masters helped us get more international visibility for our project and shape the development of our app for our target market.” Contact: Name: Martin Sudmanns and Hannah Augustin, Department of Geoinformatics – Z_GIS, University of Salzburg, Austria Email: URL:



2016 Finalist DLR Environment, Energy and Health Challenge

IceKing has developed an app for sustainable tourism on glaciers that can also be used to crowd-source photos from tourists for glacier research. Our vision is to combine the power of the community with space technology to produce valuable data on resource utilisation and distribution that can help protect planet Earth.

We will achieve this by creating a virtuous cycle between sustainable tourism and scientific research on glaciers. Glaciers are among the most reliable indicators of climate change, as well as important ecosystems that provide fresh water and hydroelectric power. The IceKing app offers an all-round experience that includes useful information for organising trips, from the accommodations available to local glacier guides. Tourists can join a global scientific expedition by uploading their geo-referenced photos of different glacier spots. These photos are useful to researchers who validate the accuracy of satellite-based data models. When combined with SAR and optical imagery from the Copernicus Sentinels, they can also improve water runoff models. This approach can be extended to other ecosystems in the future.

Finalist’s Statement:

“Participating in Copernicus Masters was an important milestone in IceKing’s development. It gave us the confidence that our solution was understood and appreciated in the space sector and encouraged us to continue developing the idea. Following the competition, we received funding from Climate-KIC, along with a two-year funding and incubation grant with the ESA-BIC Accent Gründerservice in Lower Austria.”


Name: Paola Belingheri, Fabiana Milza and Gabriele Mamoli, IceKing GmbH, Austria


Agricolus – A Remote-Sensing Component for Agricultural Management

Agricolus s.r.l. is an Italian start-up which develops solutions for Smart Agriculture. The company’s mission is to support farmers, agronomists, and other agricultural operators in optimising the work on field by using cutting-edge technologies of data collection and analysis.

The core project of the company is a cloud platform composed of precision farming applications. Also named Agricolus, the platform can be accessed easily by briefly creating an account: it enables farmers to make targeted decisions regarding the specific needs of their individual crops. These decisions reduce costs, improve yield quality and quantity, and also minimise the environmental impacts of farming. Such decision support systems, forecast models, smart pest and disease control tools in combination with remote sensing provide completely new solutions and production procedures for farmers and technicians.
Earth observation data from Copernicus Sentinel 2 are processed in the Agricolus application and can be accessed by the user by means of the imagery feature. The Earth observation data help farmers to identify homogeneous management zones at a farm level by considering crop status regarding, for example, irrigation needs or plant protection interventions. It compares the plant vigour and water stress values for several fields (NDVI and NDMI indices). It is also possible to analyse time variation for the entire farmland or single crops.


Name: Andrea Cruciani, Agricolus


Building Radar: A Satellite-Supported Search Engine for Construction Projects

2015 Overall Winner of the Copernicus Masters and Winner European Space Imaging High-Res Urban Challenge
2016 ESA Space App Camp Winner

Building Radar finds construction sites around the world at the earliest possible time and presents them on one data analytics platform. It has introduced an integrated solution for Sentinel-2 and VHR satellite imagery as part of a solid business model.

The solution demonstrates the potential of satellite imagery for market-oriented products and services in a wide range of sectors. By combining satellite data, machine learning, and datamining, Building Radar provides an all-new monitoring and detection service for the construction industry. The Building Radar online platform, which provides 16,000 new construction leads every day, uses a custom-developed algorithm to identify new building projects around the world. The database provided by Building Radar is always up to date because the research is done in real-time, 24 hours a day. Users don’t have to wait for a research analyst to stumble across the information. The platform’s customers include companies active in the new construction and maintenance sectors. Building Radar makes it possible to verify online search results and track changes in projects by means of satellite imagery. The platform thus enables its users to monitor much different construction endeavors while providing much greater cost-efficiency than its competitors thanks to its innovative data research methods. In recent years, Building Radar has developed its computer vision algorithms and trained artificial neural networks in order to automate its analysis of building sites and the detection of related changes. Building Radar’s analysis of satellite images has great potential for further applications and services, as well: The Bavaria-based start-up is experimenting with possibilities in detecting road damage and analysing surfaces, infrastructures, and demography in pre-defined areas. This solution may open new doors to the use of precision satellite imagery in a worldwide context.
Building Radar entered the incubation programme at ESA BIC Bavaria in early 2015; it was the overall winner of Copernicus Masters in 2015 and won the 2016 edition of the Space App Camp in Barcelona. Following these successes and several further awards, the Munich start-up has grown to 35 employees from 13 nations. Building Radar has already successfully led to over EUR 100 million in sales for more than 150 customers. Today, the solution is used by Fortune 500 firms and renowned companies such as Viessmann and Vitra.


Winner’s statement:

“Winning the European Space Imaging High-Res Urban Challenge and the Copernicus Masters grand prize was a huge honour for us. It showed that the international jury of experts believed in our technology’s potential to become something great. Many companies became aware of us, as well, which gave us the chance to develop our product and contributed to the success of our business in the past few years.” (Paul Indinger)



Name: Paul Indinger, Leopold Neumann, Raoul Friedrich & Team


DriveMark® - Navigation using Landmarks with Radar Fixed Points from Satellites

2013 Overall Winner of the Copernicus Masters and Winner BMW Connected Drive Challenge

From Earth observation (EO) to autonomous driving. The DLR-developed DriveMark® technology makes the creation of high-resolution digital road maps from space possible. When Hartmut Runge, scientist from the DLR Remote Sensing Technology Institute in Oberpfaffenhofen, identified the points of light in the radar image as traffic-related objects, the idea for DriveMark® was born: Navigation using landmarks. Using vehicle sensors and a network of landmarks creates a globally available, highly accurate and reliable navigation system, independent of GNSS. With the TerraSAR-X radar satellite and a special geodetic processing chain, the x-, y- and z-coordinates of landmarks can be pinpointed to a few centimetres without being in that exact spot. This makes it possible to record large or difficult-to-access areas very efficiently. With DriveMark®, satellite remote sensing technology and methods for navigation applications are used. The system creates reference points and road maps that are particularly useful for driver assistance systems and automated vehicles.
Winning the Copernicus Masters 2013 as well as the BMW Connected Drive Challenge pushed the project accordingly. In recent years, Hartmut Runge presented his application idea to key industry representatives in a host of presentations and pitches – and they showed a great deal of interest. The Copernicus Masters BMW prize included consultation sessions with the Munich-based car manufacturer, allowing him to define the requirements for modern maps for autonomous driving and to further develop his idea in a targeted way. The patented DriveMark® system thus emerged as the theme of an innovation project with DLR Technology Marketing and support from the Helmholtz Validation Fund. DriveMark® serves as a bridge between age-old measuring techniques and the very latest cutting-edge technology, opening up new horizons for future applications. Runge’s team has developed a three-part automated processing chain that converts remote sensing data into digital road maps with an absolute accuracy of 10 centimetres. As such, DriveMark® also meets the requirements for use within the autonomous mobility sector. The Ground Control Points (GCPs) obtained can be used individually as reference points as well as in the overall view of the navigation map. As such, they can be used as anchoring points for ‘mobile mapping’ and the ego-localisation of autonomous vehicles. Since the GCPs are digitalised, they can be fed into existing assistance systems, so that a vehicle equipped with an on-board camera, for instance, can aim for these control points and thus determine its own position. Drivers know exactly where they are at any given time or place regardless of GNSS and other such systems. This makes automated driving with clear lane guidance and complex driving manoeuvres, such as changing lanes and making a turn, possible. The automated digitalisation of the control points and the map as a whole are essential features of and prerequisites for the marketability of DriveMark®. Hartmut Runge and his team have already developed the next process and applied for a patent. With DriveLine®, crash barriers and noise barriers on the edge of the road can be used to position the vehicle accurately within the lane. With the help of remote sensing, it is therefore possible to not only map the street itself, but also the “whole picture” with buildings and infrastructures in the surrounding area. Distance sensors in the vehicles continuously determine the lateral distance to the ‘DriveLines’ and constantly compare these measurements with the map. This lane-keeping method serves also as redundancy, for example, when back light causes glare in conventional camera-based systems and ambiguities occur. Today, the technology transfer process has been fulfilled. The innovation project has been successfully completed and the results have been validated. The requirements have been met in full. In some areas the level of precision is even better than expected. So marketing has started in order to present the technology to potential users. The initial orders for sample data show that there is real interest out there. The aim is to transfer the DriveMark® solution in such a way that commercial licensees can independently enhance or validate their highly accurate mapping products. Trademarking DriveMark® and DriveLine® as registered DLR trademarks raises the profile of the technology with a focus on its key application. DriveMark® has become an international brand with recognition value within DLR and beyond. After all, innovation is what matters to the outside world for market execution. Contact: Name: Hartmut Runge, German Space Agency at DLR Email: URL:



2018 ESA Space App Camp

Are you looking for the perfect surfing or snorkeling location, the most popular beach area near city life, or that rare unknown beach where the only sign of life is your footsteps in the sand?

Best Beach enables you to easily locate optimal beach areas based on your preferences. Once the desired beach is found, nearby hotel and flight deals can be purchased directly from the app through a range of travel agencies.

Advanced machine learning is used to detect and categorize beaches along coastlines and lakes. For every beach area, several parameters are stored and updated live as more data becomes available. Beach rankings are calculated based on user preferences such as temperature, wind, undercurrents, and contamination. The user can choose a small search area or perform a complete custom scan of all the best-ranking beaches in the world. Earth observation statistics are used to predict yearly beach patterns, and forecasts are used to predict weather conditions for the upcoming weeks and seasons.


“Taking part in the ESA Space App Camp has been a great experience for the whole team. This very intensive and focused event has made it possible for us to succeed in developing our prototype app even without prior knowledge of Earth observation. Access to EO information, resources and staff has been crucial to our success. The camp has also opened many doors in the field of Earth observation and given us many new contacts and potential partners. An MVP version of our app is close to completion, and we are now joining several other start-up companies in the preliminary stages of a new ESA BIC that will go live in Denmark in early 2020. We advise everyone to apply to the Space App Camp whenever the opportunity arises.”


Name: Thomas Nielsen, SoftSingularity



2014 Winner Copernicus Masters Idea Challenge

Monitoring large, remote bodies of water is logistically challenging, time consuming and expensive. Responding quickly to events that pose a risk to human health has been almost impossible, given the size of some lakes and seas. CyanoLakes’ innovative satellite data service is a game changer for monitoring.

Based on satellite remote-sensing, CyanoLakes monitors toxin-producing cyanobacteria blooms in Earth’s waterbodies from satellite remote sensing. The online service also enables water utilities with limited resource to become more efficient and responsive by supplementing their monitoring programs. Besides, the online monitoring and mapping service significantly improve water and health authorities’ ability to monitor, respond to and manage cyanobacteria, algal blooms and water weeds in both fresh and salt waters. Cyanobacteria blooms pose a serious health threat to humans and animals and are increasingly common due to pollution and global warming. Eutrophication can devastate natural ecosystems and increases the cost of water treatment. Additionally, CyanoLakes assists water treatment technology companies to increase sales, save money and easily track success stories, and non-profit lake user organisations safeguard recreational water users with daily health risk levels and recreational advisories.

In 2014, Dr Mark Matthews won the Copernicus Masters Ideas Challenge for applications using satellite data. Winning the Copernicus Masters Ideas Challenge raised awareness of both the problem and the solution, while the expert jury’s approval of the potential and feasibility of CyanoLakes further boosted the concept’s credibility: Dr Matthews had developed an algorithm during his PhD that was able to distinguish between cyanobacteria and algae. The algorithm was recognised as a breakthrough in research and innovation, and also solved many of the challenges associated with using satellite data for routine monitoring applications.
Using the open-source algorithm, the online information service provides daily warnings on the health risks from cyanobacteria blooms. This allows water and health authorities an unprecedented ability to monitor in near-real time for cyanobacteria and algal blooms, ultimately protecting the general public from negative health impacts.

In 2015, after being awarded with a research grant by the Water Research Commission, CyanoLakes began working on a prototype for South Africa. The South African Department of Water and Sanitation became the first user, utilising the information to fill gaps in their monitoring database and for reporting. In January 2017, following the public release of data from the Copernicus Sentinel-3A satellite, the prototype began providing near-real time updates. Sentinel-3 OLCI is the service backbone of the CyanoLakes application, supplemented by high resolution imagery from Sentinel-2. With the Launch of Sentinel-3B in 2018, the service now provides up to 6 updates per week for all waterbodies on Earth. The Ocean and Land Colour Instruments on the Sentinel-3A and B satellite platforms are currently the only sensors in space with the necessary spectral bands, radiometric sensitivity, spatial resolution and coverage for near real-time services related to the detection of cyanobacteria.

Dr Matthews, “Sentinel-3 is the backbone of the CyanoLakes service, given its unique instrument characteristics. Without it, we could not provide our service to the market. With two satellites in space, we are now able to provide daily updates to clients anywhere around the globe.”

Name: Dr Mark Matthews, CyanoLakes Ltd, South Africa



2011 Winner Copernicus Masters ESA App Challenge
2013 Winner T-Systems Cloud Computing Challenge

EOMAP has a long history with ESA: The development of this spin-off of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) was initially supported by the ESA Business Incubation Centre (BIC) Bavaria.

In 2011, Dr Thomas Heege (CEO of EOMAP GmbH & Co. KG) and his team won the ESA App Challenge in the Copernicus Masters competition for AquaMap – a near-real-time water quality service for mobile phones. Two years later, EOMAP’s satellite service for mapping global seafloor topography won the competition’s T-Systems Cloud Computing Challenge. Today, EOMAP is the world’s leading company in optical remote sensing for marine and freshwater aquatic environments. It is also an expert in satellite-derived bathymetry (SDB), seafloor classification, and water quality monitoring. EOMAP’s technologies are based on 30 years of research and development with an experienced, multidisciplinary team of physicists, mathematicians, geo-information scientists, geographers, and geo-ecologists. Since 2006, EOMAP has been supplying professional services to industrial and governmental organisations around the world.

Ever since its wins in Copernicus Masters, EOMAP has been offering efficient and user-friendly access to its results and services through a range of delivery mechanisms, including the eoApp® web application for visualising water quality data.

One of the projects that involves these mechanisms is SPACE-O (Space-Assisted Water Quality Forecasting Platform for Optimised Decision-Making in Water Supply Services), which is funded by the EU H2020 Research and Innovation Programme. It integrates satellite technology and in-situ monitoring with advanced hydrological and water quality models and ICT tools. The result is a powerful decision support system capable of generating real-time, short- to medium-term forecasts of water flows and quality data in reservoirs, which can be used to optimise water treatment plant operations and establish a complete service line from the realm of science to the water business sector.

Within the SPACE-O project, the provision of satellite data is handled by EOMAP. The raw data generated by Sentinel-2 is processed in a fully automated way by EOMAP tools and delivered into the decision support tool. At the core of this technology are state-of-the-art, physics-based algorithms for extracting quantitative information about aquatic environments from remote sensing data acquired by satellites.

EOMAPs algorithms:

  • Allow for coupled atmospheric and in-water parameter retrieval that corrects for the terrestrial adjacency effect, which is critical to the accurate remote sensing of any coastal or inland body of water
  • Contain a physically accurate implementation of the bi-directional effect inside the water column, on the surface of water, and in the atmosphere
  • Take into account the full range of reflecting, absorbing, and scattering properties of water bodies and the points where they meet the atmosphere
  • Uncertainties in Earth observation products can arise from a number of environmental factors

The algorithms within EOMAP’s processing chain include mechanisms for quantifying these uncertainties and flagging relative reliabilities. As result of the project, a set of newly developed or improved operational products have been incorporated into the Space-O water information system. They include high-resolution indices of chlorophyll (a, harmful algae bloom indicator), surface water temperatures, evaporation rates, and trophic states. These products all deliver very valuable information in connection with sustainable water management in reservoirs and depict further details on the environmental conditions present in lakes.

This new water information platform and toolset have been successfully demonstrated during several workshops in The Hague, Brussels, and Vienna with the active participation of major European drinking-water stakeholders.


Name: Thomas Heege and team, EOMAP GmbH & Co.KG, Germany


ARICS - Artificial Intelligence Change Detection System for Land Use

2018 Finalist EC Copernicus Government Challenge

EU municipalities are missing out on millions of euros in revenue due to illegal construction. Right now, there is no easy or cost-effective way to detect (or even accurately measure) this activity.

ARICS (ARtificial Intelligence Change Detection System) is an AI-driven platform developed by GET and SIMULARITY that utilises Sentinel data to detect abnormal land use changes due to construction, deforestation, or other illegal activities. ARICS dramatically reduces the time and funds required for detection compared to traditional change detection tools used by human analysts. It can analyse a series of remote sensing images in order to detect areas where abnormal changes in land use have occurred. The results are presented in a web application where additional data (e.g. on protected areas, buildings with permits, or even VHR images acquired from drones) can be overlaid to increase the value of the information. Additional applications can be built on this platform in the future, which is expected to result in additional commercial applications for the government and private sector.

“Copernicus Masters was a unique opportunity for us to present ourselves to the international Earth observation community and meet and communicate with EO experts from all over the world.”

Name: Gabriel Mavrellis, Geospatial Enabling Technologies, Greece


ALMaS - An Automatic Landslide Mapping Service

2017 Finalist University Challenge

Landslides are a major threat in the world’s mountainous regions, as evidenced by the numerous deaths and significant damage they cause each year.

When triggering events occur, national and regional authorities and infrastructure providers have an urgent need for fast assessments that support them in taking immediate action, lanning repair and maintenance activities, and documenting events in affected areas.
This is why our team is currently developing an Automatic Landslide Mapping Service (ALMaS), an interactive web service that contains image processing tools capable of automatically identifying landslide-affected areas using the most recent Sentinel-1/-2 images for requested regions. ALMaS provides users with landslide information shortly after satellite images become available. The integration of external data enables them to identify potentially affected populations and infrastructure and start planning actions in response.

“The Copernicus Masters competition and the Accelerator programme were excellent opportunities for our team to elaborate our service concept in detail and advance its development towards live operations.”

Name: Florian Albrecht, University of Salzburg, Department of Geoinformatics – Z_GIS, Austria



CybEarth – First-Person Visualisation of EO Data

2015 Winner NCMA Spatio-Temporal Data Visualisation Challenge

CybEarth is a mobile application that provides augmented first-person views of reality. By positioning a mobile device over an area of interest, layers of spatial data and EO imagery are projected on-screen, matching dynamically to the camera’s tilted field of view.

Imagine you could turn your tablet/smartphone camera towards any area on Earth and get dynamic Earth observation (EO) images on your screen. Imagine you could apply multispectral, multitemporal, multi-thematic data overlays to
the real world, like an x-ray of Earth or even the oceans. You could travel through time and attributes, become a special kind of scientist, and make decisions regarding the Earth’s systems.
Our app, Cybearth, embraces most EO data and applications related to the sea, land, air, environment, civil security, natural disasters, and more. It supports a wide range of uses and market potential: Inspection agencies can investigate and tag urban or environmental violations, farmers can personally monitor crop conditions and decide when to harvest, and simple users can navigate through time to see how their birthplace has changed over the years.

Cybearth is a dynamic, in-situ, augmented reality GIS that is being designed and marketed as a service or stand-alone software for any entity that needs to incorporate EO data into its logging, monitoring, recording, or decision-making activities.

“CybEarth is a horizontal platform that can serve many diverse markets, from tourism and education to farming and science. As an application, it is compatible with our ‘smartdrone’ prototype, which is a smartphone-equipped UAV that was first introduced internationally in Copernicus Masters. After that, Copernicus Masters was the vehicle we used to
transform our academic technology into a business case. It also became the foundation on which we gained wide visibility, business coaching, and access to networking channels.”

CybEarth Sense Logo


CELSIUS - Adaptation to Climate Change with a Focus on Reducing Temperature Effects in Cities

2018 Finalist Copernicus Masters EC Copernicus Government Challenge

Cities around the world are facing two important problems: overpopulation and rising temperatures due to climate change.

Urban temperatures are influenced by each city’s spatial and material heterogeneity, but also by other factors, such as soil impermeability, vegetation, the typology of buildings and urban patterns, wind, humidity, and air pollution. All of these influence the formation of urban microclimates that affect environmental quality and citizens’ quality of life. Green Urban Data’s software makes it possible to locate vulnerable areas and prioritise areas for related measures. This enables public administrations to develop more accurate environmental strategies and allocate budgets in the most
objective way. The ability to quantify the results has a significant impact in terms of how cities and their citizens benefit.

To this end, we use images from the Sentinel-2 satellite (which provides a very good spatial resolution for managing cities’ green areas) and Landsat 8 (which has a thermal band that facilitates temperature monitoring).

“Green Urban Data has garnered interest on an international scale thanks to Copernicus Masters. We are now in conversations to join other European companies in introducing our tool in other countries.”


Name: Alejandro Carbonell

Celsius Logo


ACTAEON - Advancing Agricultural Insurance through Earth Observation Data and Weather Intelligence Services

2018 Finalist Copernicus Masters Airbus Multi-Data Challenge

Although it is a fast-growing sector, agricultural insurance (AgI) is suffering from low penetration and consistent underwriting losses due to factors ranging from high administrative costs to adverse selection.

AgroApps is addressing these sectoral issues with ACTAEON, a robust and cost-effective toolbox that allows insurance companies to alleviate the effects of weather uncertainty when estimating the risk involved in AgI products. It also reduces on-site visits for claim verification, lowers operational and administrative costs for contract monitoring/handling, and enables insurance companies to design more accurate and personalized contracts.

To deliver ACTAEON, AgroApps uses Copernicus EO data (as well as data derived from missions contributing to Copernicus) to provide the actionable information insurance companies need to efficiently design their products and assess natural disasters. In addition, it employs in-house climate services that combine data assimilation, numerical weather prediction, and ensemble seasonal forecasting to verify the occurrence of catastrophic weather events and predict future perils.


Name: Gregory Mygdakos

ACTAEON AgroApps Logo

Beyond 100 Masters

Over the past years of the Copernicus Masters competition, many innovative solutions using Copernicus data have been submitted and awarded. The Copernicus 100 Masters present only a selection of the numerous business cases and application fields enabled by Earth observation imagery.

Browse through the Copernicus Master Hall of Fame to discover even more use cases and visions of young entrepreneurs.

About Copernicus

Copernicus is the most ambitious Earth observation (EO) programme to date and is an integral component of Europe’s ambitious activities in space. It responds to the needs of its users and ultimately serves European citizens – both directly through its products and applications and indirectly through its social, economic and environmental benefits. By rising to the global challenges of climate change and responding to the ever-growing and diverse stress factors placed on the environment and civil security, Europe’s Copernicus programme has already taken significant steps forward in the way we care for our planet.

The Copernicus programme is under the overall leadership of the European Commission, which acts on behalf of the European Union (EU) and is responsible for the overall initiative, setting requirements and managing the services. The EU’s main partner in this endeavour is the European Space Agency (ESA), which coordinates the Space Component, the heart of Copernicus. In addition, the European Environment Agency (EEA) gathers data from a network of various in-situ sensors. Copernicus consists of a complex system that collects information from multiple sources, including more than 30 Earth observation satellites and the aforementioned in-situ sensors. The Space Component comprises two types of satellite missions: the dedicated Sentinel missions, developed by ESA specifically to meet the Earth observation needs of Copernicus users, and existing and planned missions from other space agencies, called Contributing Missions that also provide data to Copernicus.

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Let us know how we can help you!

Daniela Dobreva-Nielsen, AZO

Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen (AZO)

Daniela Dobreva-Nielsen
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