INNOspace Masters Competition

Closing Date: 23/04/2024

 International innovation competition that supports the transfer of technology and expertise between the space sector and other sectors and industries.

The INNOspace Masters Competition is an international innovation competition organised by the German Space Agency at DLR in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA), Airbus and OHB. It was launched in 2015 and aims to promote the transfer of technology and expertise between the space sector and non-space sectors. The competition has an annually changing main theme and consists of multiple different categories or ‘challenges’ with specific topics, eligibility criteria and different stage of technological maturity – from applied research to market-ready solutions.

The overall theme for the 2024 competition is: Space up your Life – Innovations for a smarter Earth and Space.

The following five challenges are open for applications:

  • Challenge 1: Applied Research for Disruptive Innovation (DLR Challenge).
  • Challenge 2: Join the New Space Economy (ESA BIC Challenge).
  • Challenge 3: Space for every Industry (ESA BASS Challenge).
  • Challenge 4: Boosting Commercialisation for a Green Space (Airbus Challenge).
  • Challenge 5: Shape Space for a better Future (OHB Challenge).

Challenge 1: Applied Research for Disruptive Innovation (DLR Challenge):

The thematic focus of this category is on smart ideas and concepts for space spin-ins and spin-offs that lead to improved technologies, processes, and applications by transferring expertise between Earth and space. It is aimed at technology developments prior to commercialisation. This includes basic applied research up to the stage of technology demonstrators. Cross-industry cooperation projects are of particular relevance. 

Examples of suitable topics include:

  • Digital technologies for and from space, such as artificial intelligence (AI), swarm intelligence and visual computing, quantum innovation for space, intelligent and connected sensor systems.
  • On-orbit economy, including development of novel materials or pharmaceutical agents in microgravity, as well as autonomous orbital manufacturing processes.
  • Sustainability in space and for Earth, including space debris protection and mitigation, advance monitoring of environmental and social sustainability on Earth.
  • Biotechnologies for space and Earth, such as bioprocessing methods for in-space nutrient extraction from crops or (food) waste, tissue engineering in microgravity.

Challenge 2: Join the New Space Economy (ESA BIC Challenge):

The thematic focus of this category is on innovative business ideas involving space technologies or new commercial concepts for the application of space data. The challenge is designed to help start-ups to turn their ideas into a viable company. Areas of innovation that will be considered include:

  • Mobility applications and solutions.
  • Innovative optimisation solutions.
  • Increased efficiency and customer orientation solutions
  • Components or subsystems.
  • Any other ideas for the space sector or the utilisation of space data.

Challenge 3: Space for every Industry (ESA BASS Challenge):

ESA Business Applications and Space Solutions (ESA BASS) intends to support businesses who aim to develop innovative solutions for Earth using space technology. Key prerequisites are high technological readiness level, utilisation of space technology or data, concept for innovative application in terrestrial market and confirmed customer need.

Innovative technologies or applications may, for example, address the following sectors and topics:

  • Smart City and Smart Region.
  • Health (remote health services, telemedicine).
  • Green Energy Transition.
  • Sustainable Mobility and Logistics.
  • Circular Economy.

Challenge 4: Boosting Commercialisation for a Green Space (Airbus Challenge):

The focus of this category is on smart solutions enabling sustainable and efficient innovations for space and Earth on topics such as:

  • Zero Debris and zero waste in satellite and launcher production: eg technologies for resource efficient and climate neutral manufacturing on Earth, concepts and technologies for resource recovery and removal of space debris for Earth or ideas for commercial platforms and payload approaches.
  • Enable 5G / 6G Connectivity from space to Earth: Concepts and technologies to connect and integrate space-based networks and data into terrestrial mobile networks; new IoT and AI applications and services enabled by hyperconnectivity eg in environmental monitoring, secure communications, logistics, telemedicine or smart cities.
  • Manned Space Flight in Low Earth Orbit (LEO): Technologies and applications for building and sustaining infrastructures in LEO, development of use cases for non-commercial and commercial manned space flight.

Challenge 5: Shape Space for a better Future (OHB Challenge):

The thematic focus of this category is on smart ideas at all stages of innovation – from novel concepts to cost-efficient and competitive solutions. Ideas may address the following areas:

  • Green space: eg improvement of satellites in the manufacturing process as well as new designs to eliminate space debris.
  • Using space resources: eg concepts and technologies for sustainable use of manufacturing processes under µg (in-orbit manufacturing) or In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) to efficiently optimise space exploration programmes.
  • Software and IT solutions: eg smart sensors for data collection and smart concepts for combining data from Earth and space.
  • Health: eg transfer of technology solutions to ensure the health of astronauts or medical findings from space missions and life in microgravity.
Funding body Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR – German Aerospace Centre)
Maximum value €500,000
Reference ID S26052
Category Science and Technology
Engineering and Physical Sciences
Natural Environment
Fund or call Fund