Competition seeks new uses for satnav

Anyone with an idea that uses satellite navigation technology for a commercial application has until 31 July to enter a competition for cash and business support to develop their innovation.

The European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) is organised geographically, with 19 regions taking part. In addition, there are six special-topic prizes. The UK first prize is £10,000, a free patent submission, and business development for the idea. Europe's overall winner, the 'Galileo Master', is chosen from the regional and special topic winners and receives a further €20,000.

This year for the first time, the UK competition is organised by GRACE, a centre of excellence in Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) based at the University of Nottingham, which is running a series of ESNC information days around the country during May.

"The impact of satnav technologies on individuals and society is enormous," says Prof Terry Moore from GRACE. "Mass-market applications started with drivers using satnav for increased confidence and more environmentally friendly travel. Now location based services underpin a huge range of applications, and satellite time signals are used in everything from electricity distribution to stock market transactions. But we've only scratched the surface of satnav's potential."

Previous UK winners have demonstrated the wide scope of the technology – from personal trackers to help save lives at sea, to a multi-player game for mobile phones controlled by the player's heart rate as they walk, to seismography using timing signals.

The event is sponsored by the UK Space Agency, Technology Strategy Board, EADS Astrium and Scott & York.

Richard Peckham, business development director of EADS Astrium, adds: "We're excited to see this year's submissions as the UK is a world leader in satnav applications. In the six year history of the competition the UK has had two entries crowned overall Galileo Master, so 2010 could be a hat trick."

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