To pave the way from university to entrepreneurship, the European
Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) is running the ESNC University
Challenge. The student or research associate with the best idea in the
field of location-based services will be able to take part in a 12-month
incubation programme and receive patent consulting worth a total of
approximately EUR 80,000.
The ESNC University Challenge is looking for innovative ideas related to location based services. As these are so various, the competition is reaching out to any young researcher dealing with potential application areas. Engineering, logistics, business, marketing, communications, information technology, media, geology, geography – these are just some of the topics that could be turned into a promising idea. What counts is creativity. Hence, the evaluators will be focusing on originality and market needs rather than technological perfection of the idea.
Location-based services (LBS) have exploded in recent years. Consumers are
discovering new ways to experience the world around them through their smart
devices, and businesses are learning how to leverage location information to
provide more value to their customers. A location-based service is a mobile
service or application that exploits the user’s geographical location. It can be
used on mobile phones and other handheld devices, but also with in-vehicle
applications. The most popular categories of LBS include navigation applications, indoor routing, friend finders, asset tracking systems, social networking, shopping/couponing, safety alerts, and gaming.
Ultimately, the ESNC University Challenge aims to realise the winning idea in the form of a start-up company foundation. To achieve this goal, NAVTEQ – the
leading global provider of maps, traffic and location data enabling navigation,
location-based services and mobile advertising – is sponsoring an incubation
programme worth EUR 75,000. The prize includes coaching, technical and business development support, access to NAVTEQ® map data, content and services, web promotions, and the opportunity to present the final application to NAVTEQ’s customers. Furthermore, the winner will receive EUR 5,000 in patent
consulting sponsored by the European IP firm Awapatent AB, with the aim of
filing a patent for the nominated idea.
The ESNC University Challenge is a fairly new concept in the eight-year history of the ESNC, which did not establish the special prize for students until 2010.
Nevertheless, the concept was well received. "The high number of participants
showed us that many young people have great ideas on their minds," says
Thorsten Rudolph, managing director of Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen, which organises the ESNC. "They are just waiting to be given a fair chance to prove their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit."
"Location-aware applications are one of the most popular and profitable
categories of downloads," said Marc Naddell, vice president of Partner and
Developer Programs at NAVTEQ, "and new advances in technology will send
adoption rocketing. Our relationship with ESNC enables us to tap into the
creativity of university students and empower them to develop and market the
next great app."
Last year, 29-year-old Vivek Dadu from Cranefield University (UK) won the
challenge. He developed "Flood Guardian", a solution that uses satellite
navigation to generate advance warnings and provide solutions to avert potential
floods. He is currently working on realising his idea and has already filed a patent application. Dadu was inspired by a devastating flood in Poland. "The news acted as a catalyst for me to think in the direction of averting such a natural disaster," he says. Dadu, who studies aerospace and vehicle design, thinks the ESNC University Challenge was a big step in his career. "Exposure – that is what the ESNC promises to each winner," he says. "And international exposure is what everyone is looking for."
Benjamin Kirschner of the German company flinc shares Dadu’s opinion, adding
that the ESNC also has much more to offer – credibility, for example. "This award demonstrates the business potential of your idea to partners and customers,"
Kirschner says. During a study project, he and some fellow students developed a
social mobility network – an app that arranges real-time ride sharing with the
help of satellite navigation. After they graduated, they decided to start their own business. "And it was the best decision in my life," he says. Their app is currently in the testing phase and will be launched this summer.