Got a fantastic business idea for a location based service or a new satellite navigation application but don’t have the resources to get it off the ground?
The European Satellite Navigation Competition is offering thousands of pounds in cash prizes and business incubation support to people interested taking the spark of an innovative idea and making it a reality.
The UK leg of the competition, being hosted by GRACE (the GNSS Research and Applications Centre of Excellence) at The University of Nottingham, opens for entries on Friday April 1 2011.
In previous years the competition has helped launch a number of successful business ventures, including a new smartphone and web-based taxi hailing app, a heart-rate based game technology that encourages a healthy lifestyle and a tracking and retrieval alarm system that alerts a maritime crew when a person falls overboard.
Paul Bhatia, general manager of GRACE, said: “The UK challenge of the European Satellite Navigation Competition offers a remarkable opportunity to anyone who has a fresh and creative satellite navigation-based idea but needs a little extra support in achieving commercial success.
“With business incubation, consultancy and patent advice as part of the prestigious prize package, it’s a once in a lifetime chance to see a product through from its infancy on the drawing board all the way through to the marketplace.”
The competition is open to anyone who has an idea that uses satellite navigation technology be it for position, time, navigation or any other application, including iPhone, iPad and Android apps, as well as applications in any professional field.
This year the lucky winner of the UK competition will receive a prize worth over £10,000 including £5,000 cash, £5,000 of business support and office space, free UK patent advice, three years membership to the Royal Institute of Navigation and introductions to industry partners and potential funding opportunities.
The UK winner will also be entered into the overall European competition, with the chance to win an additional €20,000. All entrants will have the bonus opportunity of being entered into six special topic prizes.
Last year’s UK winner of the ESNC was Taxi Zapp Ltd, a firm based just outside Belfast in Northern Ireland and owned by Rosemary McCleneghan. Rosemary was a taxi driver who initially dreamt up Taxi Zapp after becoming interested in the exciting new possibilities that GNSS technology could offer.
TaxiZapp is a taxi hailing application accessed via the Internet or GNSS-enabled smartphones. The application enables potential passengers to locate available taxis registered to the TaxiZapp system in their area. Potential passengers “hail” a taxi simply by pressing a button within the application and entering their destination and fare details. Through the application, the five nearest taxi drivers receive a message that they have been “hailed” and can view the basic journey details. They then indicate whether they wish to accept this hail — specifying the time it will take to reach the passenger — or they can reject the fare. From drivers who respond to the request, the system determines who is quickest and closest and then allocates the fare.
Winning the UK challenge of the ESNC last year has enabled Rosemary to take advantage of new business and funding opportunities and to grow her business at a much faster rate.
“I found the process of pitching my idea and answering the judges questions extremely useful in clarifying in my own mind what I needed to do to strengthen and progress my business,” said Rosemary.
“When I won the competition, the cash prize was just what I needed to finally get it all up and running and it opened a lot of doors in terms of meeting with potential investors and other contacts who were able to offer me support,” she added.
Taxi Zapp Ltd officially launched at the beginning of this year and is now up and running and is now in the process of expanding to other areas of the UK, including Dublin and London.
The sponsors for this year’s UKESNC include the UK Space Agency, the Technology Strategy Board, EADS Astrium, the Royal Institute of Navigation, the IET, the Knowledge Transfer Network, Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Inmarsat, NAVTEQ and Logica.
More information and details on how to enter the UK European Satellite Navigation Competition is available on the web at www.ukesnc.com. The closing date for entries is June 30.
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