The CSSS is about coming up with a business idea (the Competition) to tackle big problems (the Challenges) using technology developed for space (the Technologies). This page will give you information on all those things. Further down you will also find some examples of Earth applications that have already been developed. These may tickle your imagination.
Read on and good luck!
As you know, Instituto Pedro Nunes is the entity that coordinates ESA Space Solutions Portugal. One of its main activities is to support the creation of startups that use space technology through a dedicated incubation program, the ESA BIC Portugal. We have already supported the creation of more than 60 new companies.
Startups selected for this program receive 50K to prototype their solution and protect the associated Intellectual Property (IP). They incubate for up to 2 years in one of the 15 incubators spread throughout continental Portugal and islands, and receive technical support from our team and from ESA.
Furthermore, they gain information on our networking know-how and other funding opportunities. And, of course, they become part of the ESA Space Solutions network, which gives them visibility and recognition; after all, not many companies can use this brand!
Are you an entrepreneur with the will to create a business? Do you have your head in space? Have you had an idea brooding for a long time and would like to develop it? This is your opportunity to test your entrepreneurial streak, with nothing to lose!
- Pick one of the challenges below and come up with a space-tech-based business solution to solve it.
- Pick a technology (or more). This year’s thematic technological capabilities come from the JUICE mission to the Jupiter system. In addition, you can use data from ESA satellites (Earth Observation, Global Navigation Satellite System, or Satellite Communications), technologies from the ESA Patent Portfolio, and Artificial Intelligence.
Your idea, your solution, your space business! Simulate your application to ESA BIC Portugal.
Business ideas competition
The business ideas competition is based on the use of one or more space assets to design an innovative solution (product/service) to be commercialised, that responds to one of the challenges.
Each team chooses only one out of the 4 existing challenges – so your business idea can only respond to/fit one chosen challenge.
Only participants who follow the CSSS23 program in its entirety and who make their pitch, complying with the available time and considering the guidelines presented, are eligible for the final competition.
All participants will work in teams, which are formed on the first day of the event, promoting the diversity of its composition.
The two teams that obtain more points from the jury win the competition, being classified as 1st and 2nd will receive symbolic prizes. All the participants of this 9th edition of CSSS23 will receive a welcome kit and a participation certificate.
Final Presentation – Pitch
The presentations/pitches and the slide decks should be in English. Use Keynote, Google Slides or PowerPoint to create your presentation. You may have drawings, mock-ups, or others to add value to the presentation. Each team has a total of 5 minutes to pitch, followed by 5 minutes for questions from the jury.
The presentation should be assertive and attractive, emphasising the points on the evaluation criteria – do not forget that innovation is a key element.
Identify your team, what challenge you are addressing, and what space asset/technology is used.
The Jury consists of 3 elements representing the three organising entities: IPN, OGAUC, and GeoPlaNet.
- Use of space assets – eliminatory criterion:
If a space asset is not used, i.e., if it is demonstrated that the connection to space is tenuous, the team will be eliminated from the competition.
- Fitting the challenge – 20%:
Does the business idea respond to one of the challenges that was launched?
Did it deviate from what was asked for?
- Innovation and originality of the project – 30%:
Does the solution solve a relevant problem or take advantage of a significant opportunity?
Is the value proposition clear, well-defined, and relevant? Is it possible to go to market with this idea?
What is the competitive advantage about other existing solutions or to other players in the market?
- Project Viability – 25%:
Has the market and the clients been identified?
How will it make money, and sell? B2B/B2C/B2G/…
Are there competitors doing the same? How are they differentiated?
- Quality of the presentation– 25%:
Were all the essential points of a pitch addressed?
Was the presentation delivered assertively?
Was the presentation thoughtful and creative?
Challenge 1. Multiplanet Life
How can we prepare to live beyond the surface of the Earth?
Can you imagine what problems and needs we will encounter and then think of a product, a service or a solution that you can turn into a viable business?
There is a new space race going on. More and more infrastructure is being placed in orbit. Some of it is designed to help our lives on Earth, but there are plans to enable us to live beyond our planet.
Famously, Elon Musk wants to develop SpaceX to allow us to put humans on Mars in this century. Then there is the Artemis programme, where NASA together with commercial and international partners will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars. ESA has multiple initiatives towards sustained human presence on the Moon and beyond.
With this in mind, ESA has people thinking about living in space and has issued calls for ideas on developing new Space Suits, on developing a large European lander for the Moon, on thinking of Communications on the Moon, and on In-Situ Resource Utilisation on the Moon. See the links below for more.
But some problems need to be solved if we are to live for more than a few months outside the comfort of our planet. We need to get to the Moon, Mars, or other bodies in the solar system. The environment on our way and once arrived will be harsh, with reduced or no gravity at all, high levels of radiation, no oxygen, no easy means of transportation, etc. Your business idea could attack different problems.
The obvious energy source in space is the Sun. But what if you are on the dark side of the Moon? There are very interesting new ideas that use nuclear energy.
Can you think of a new product or business that addresses the future energy market in space?
How do we efficiently get to the Moon or Mars. Elon Musk think he has the answer, but can you think of something else? And how do we move around when we live in those places? Bicycles? Uber🤮?
Is this a chance to reinvent transportation?
We will probably need new equipment to live in space. An obvious example are space suits 👩🚀. These need to be comfortable, allow us to grab and handle other equipment, retain healthy temperature, humidity and oxygen levels, etc.
Can you think of other gadgets that will be essential for life in space or on another planet?
There are health issues that need to be dealt with in outer space. We may need to travel in tight spaces for months to get to our destinations, probably in the absence of gravity. Living in places with weak or absent atmosphere we will be exposed to harmful radiation. There are indications that viruses and bacteria become much more active in the absence of gravity.
Can you think of ways to stay healthy in space, on the Moon or on another planet?
In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) consists of extracting useful raw materials from wherever we find ourselves. This could be the lunar or the martian surface, for example, or even asteroids. We need to find water, grow food and generate breathable air. Transporting everything we need in space from Earth does not scale. We need to extract raw materials that can be used to build infrastructure and technology. An interesting related business story: during Californian Gold Rush in the late 1800s it was the people selling picks, shovels and jeans that got rich.
Can you think of business solutions that can take advantage of this ISRU?
Can you think of something else we will need?
Challenge 2. Revitalise our Villages
Can you address the challenges facing rural villages, including aging populations, limited access to public services and healthcare, desertification, and isolation, while leveraging their strengths such as cultural heritage, natural resources, and local knowledge, aiming to strike a balance between preserving community cohesion and integrating external opportunities?
Ageing and desertification
In Spain, there are 1800 villages with a single inhabitant! Portugal suffers from similar problems of desertification of the inland regions. Everybody wants to move to the big cities, in particular the younger generations. The result are villages that are emptier, more degraded and with older and older people.
Quieter and less polluted
But this desertification offers a few positives. Villages and their surroundings suffer from less pollution, are less noisy, and less hectic. People are generally more polite and have more time for each other. Although there are less people, people feel less lonely in villages than in cities. This may suggest that life in villages is healthier.
Less access to public goods and services
However, living in villages bring other problems that impact health. Houses are generally less insulated, which may cause respiratory complications in the winter months. There is poorer access to public transport and it takes longer to access high quality healthcare and medication. This can be problematic for older people with health emergencies. Access and mobility problems extend to many other public services.
Nature and empirical knowledge
People who grow up in villages have a deeper connection to and better understanding of the natural world and the rhythms of nature. This empirical knowledge, developed over centuries and generations, can play an important role in the development of, e.g. new food production strategies.
Cultural heritage and traditions
The cultural heritage and traditions of a country are also better preserved in the villages. This is partly due to the physical and digital isolation, which makes villages less exposed to other cultures. Villages generally offer more genuine examples of a country’s cuisine, habits, and nature. Good places for tourism?
In the opposite direction, villagers have less access to cinemas, theatres, concert halls and museums. These places provide experiences that are also valuable, and it is unfortunate that they are not available to part of the population. Especially since so many villagers are in the age of retirement, which is when they have the time and hopefully resources to explore those experiences.
How can we use technology to revitalise our villages? How can we take the best villages have to offer? How can we help villages and villagers live better lives? Can this have a positive impact in cities too, and in countries and the world as a whole?
- Home-villages in Portugal (another link)
- The Case of a Portuguese Village “Spun” in Traditional Linen
- Que vivan los pueblos
- Idea to revitalise rural areas in France: the ‘smart village’
- Smart Age-Friendly Villages: Literature Review and Research Agenda (research paper)
- Intangible Cultural Heritage (UNESCO)
- Sustainability of Heritage Villages through Eco-Tourism Investment (Case Study: Al-Khabra Village, Saudi Arabia)
- Harnessing living heritage for a sustainable future (Culture Working Group, G20 India 2023)
- A Cultural Route Perspective on Rural Revitalization of Traditional Villages: A Case Study from Chishui, China
- China’s ‘digital villages’ rejuvenate rural areas, narrow urban-rural gap
- Internet solutions to drive rural vitalization
Challenge 3. Learning by Playing
Can you develop gamified business solutions to educate society to address major challenges?
We are a problem-solving species. This is good, because there are always many problems to solve. We have recently dealt with a pandemic which has left multiple scars, currently deal with a war and an ongoing migrant crisis, permanently deal with world disease and hunger, and are finally realising the threat of climate change.
But we are also lazy, and need motivation to keep solving these problems. One way to make problem-solving fun is to turn the whole thing into a game. Making it a game has many advantages, such as parceling a big task into smaller pieces that give us a sense of achievement, increasing competitiveness, and making the whole enterprise simply more interesting.
We challenge you to think of gamification products or solutions that increase awareness, that inform and educate, that help everyone be better prepared to deal with the challenges of our time. Games involve challenges, rewards, and competition, which can have a positive impact on raising awareness and fostering positive behavioural changes in individuals and communities.
Current societal challenges that you could address with your business solution:
- climate change and environmental degradation (global warming, deforestation, loss of biodiversity)
- refugee crisis (war and humanitarian crises leads to the displacement of millions)
- obesity, diabetes and unhealthy lifestyle (ultraprocessed food, sedentary life)
- digital divide (unequal access to technology/internet hinder education/employment/communication)
- discrimination and social injustice (racism, sexism, gender freedom and equality, …)
- epidemics and disease (past and future)
We would like to see solutions that address all of society:
- all ages (children, teenagers, adults and older age)
- all settings (schools and universities, work life, home and free time, holidays and tourism)
Can you come up with a product, service or app that teaches people to be better as if they were playing a game?
- WeRise app promoting gender equality though gaming (United Nations article)
- Gamification inspiring social impact (LinkedIn article)
- Introduction à la gamification : transformer l’ordinaire en extraordinaire (resources)
- Gamification for Learning & Development (LinkedIn article)
- Pete Jenkins – gamification strategist and mentor (reading and audio material)
- Enterprise Gamification Anything Child’s Play
- Science education through games (games for youngster, examples)
- Gamification: the key to sustainability (Ecologi, company)
- Funzi from Finland – technology in education (Funzi, company, ideas)
- Gamification as a tool for inclusion & entrepreneurship for young refugees and migrants (research project flyer, ideas)
- Learning through Play (the LEGO foundation)
- Brilliant.org (a famous example)
- Design thinking and gamification: user centred methodologies (International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction)
- Overcoming illiteracy through game-based learning in refugee camps and urban slums (research paper, deepen)
- Why do people use gamification services (International Journal of Information Management)
- Game-playing as an effective learning resource for elderly people (Universal Access in the Information Society)
- The Benefits of Play for Adults (helpguide.org)
Challenge 4. Your idea!
Who are we to tell you what are the biggest problems facing humankind?! You may have much better ideas. This is why Open Challenge exists: to give you the freedom to think bigger. But remember, you have to justify why your problem is a problem.
JUICE is equipped with a gigantic solar panels. At Jupiter, solar power is only 3% of what we get on Earth, and the ambient temperature is also extremely low. This much darker and colder environment required the development of very special solar panels. Read more on this asset at:
UVS is a UV spectrometer designed to study the atmospheres of the icy moons, the Jupiter aurora and upper atmosphere. The instrument will take direct observations and look at how sunlight and stellar light is absorbed by the atmospheres. UVS will cover the wavelength range 55-210 nm with spectral resolution of <0.6 nm. Spatial resolution will reach 0.5 km at Ganymede and up to 250 km at Jupiter. Can you find a use for this in your business?
MAJIS (Moons and Jupiter Imaging Spectrometer) is a hyper-spectral imaging spectrometer will observe tropospheric cloud features and minor species on Jupiter. It will also look for ices and minerals on the surfaces of icy moons. MAJIS will cover the visible and infrared wavelengths from 400 to 5700 nanometers, with spectral resolution of 3-7 nm. The spatial resolution will be up to 25 m on Ganymede and about 100 km on Jupiter.
There must be uses for this type of instrument to solve the CSSS challenges. Can you think of a few?
JUICE will experience extreme temperatures. In the inner Solar System and during its flyby of Venus it will be exposed to high temperatures of 250 C. Later, far from the Sun, it will experience temperatures as low as negative 230 C. These temperatures are challenging for the sensors and sensitive electronic components. Therefore, JUICE is ‘wrapped’ in 500 protective, thin thermal insulation sheets (‘multi-layer insulation’, or MLI, with a total mass of 100 kilograms) to regulate its temperature and keep its interior stable in the face of changing conditions.
There’s a Portuguese company that makes MLI and has supplied it to several space missions, including JUICE.
Optical camera systems
JANUS is an optical camera to study global, regional and local morphology and processes on the moons, and to perform mapping of the clouds on Jupiter. JANUS will have 13 filters, a 1.3 degree field of view, and spatial resolution up to 2.4 m on Ganymede and about 10 km at Jupiter.
GALA (GAnymede Laser Altimeter) is a laser altimeter for studying the tidal deformation of Ganymede and the morphology and topography of the surfaces of the icy moons. GALA will have a 20 m spot size and 0.1 m vertical resolution at 200 km.
During its mission to the Jupiter system, JUICE will experience intense radiation in the planet’s environment. Jupiter has an exceptionally strong magnetic field, up to 20 times more potent than Earth’s. This magnetic field interacts with the solar wind, grabbing high-energy electrons that pose a risk to the spacecraft. This means that special shielding for instruments and components is required.
Longer wavelength instruments
RIME, the Radar for Icy Moon Exploration, is an ice penetrating radar to study the subsurface structure of the icy moons down to 9 km depth with vertical resolution of up to 30 m in ice. RIME will work at a central frequency of 9 MHz (1 and 3 MHz bandwidth) and will use a 16 m antenna.
3GM, or the Gravity & Geophysics of Jupiter and Galilean Moons, is a radio package comprising the KaT (Ka transponder), USO (ultrastable oscillator) and HAA (High Accuracy Accelerometer). The experiment will study the gravity field at Ganymede, the extent of the internal oceans on the icy moons, and the structure of the neutral atmosphere and ionosphere of Jupiter and its moons.
- RIME: the radar sounder on JUICE (CSSS Blog)
- Probing the interior of Ganymede and Callisto with 3GM (CSSS Blog)
ESA, the European Space Agency, manages a large number of satellites that orbit the Earth and monitor our planet in different ways. These data are freely available and enable an enormous amount of business solutions.
Earth Observation (Copernicus)
Copernicus is the European Union’s Earth Observation Programme, looking at our planet and its environment for the benefit of Europe’s citizens. The Sentinel constellation of satellites (see below) produces vast amounts of data that are freely available for anyone to use. Read more on:
- Downstream Applications (CSSS Blog)
- Copernicus Thematic Areas (ESA)
- Earth Observation Portal (ESA)
- Different applications of the Copernicus Programme Data (ESA, in Portuguese)
- Sentinel-1 has radar instrumentation that see through cloud and measure minute changes in land. Its applications include emergency responses (volcanic, seismic, landslide). More info.
- Sentinel-2 images the Earth’s surface in 18 spectral bands. It monitors land, and has applications in agriculture, city planning, drought monitoring, etc. More info.
- Sentinel-3 monitors Earth’s oceans, land, ice and atmosphere and provides essential information in near-real time for ocean and weather forecasting. More info.
- Sentinel-5P – is the first Copernicus mission dedicated to monitoring our atmosphere. It is the precursor of the Sentinel-4 and Sentinel-5 missions. These satellites map a multitude of trace gases, which affect the air we breathe and therefore our health and our climate. More info on S-5P, S-4 and S-5.
- Sentinel-6 will focus on sea-surface height measurements with unprecedented precision. More info.
- Other ESA Earth Observation missions.
Galileo is Europe’s own global navigation satellite system (GNSS), providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. It is more precise in both space and time than GPS (operated by the USA).
Today telecommunications satellites are part of our daily lives. Many everyday activities rely on telecommunication satellites that are in orbit, almost 36 000 kilometres above our heads.
Here are some recently launched communications satellites:
There are many ways in which satellites are used, some very specific, such as the communication systems of retail chains and banks in many parts of the world, remote post offices in small villages, and the control of water, gas or oil pipelines. In most remote and some not-so-remote parts of the world, satellite communications continue to play a fundamental role in the infrastructure of telephone and other services.
Satellite telecommunications can also support the development of less favoured regions to the provision of telecommunications, tele-education or telemedicine services in emergencies or disaster situations.
Can you use any of these ideas in your business solution?
Year after year, ESA develops vast array of innovative, highly sophisticated technologies and applications to make Europe’s space endeavours happen. When ESA staff members are involved in devising an innovation or invention, then the Agency is free to apply for a patent, typically patenting between 10-20 inventions per year.
Technology Transfer is the activity of stimulating effective translation of technologies developed originally for space towards uses in a terrestrial applications. Here are a number of success stories in Technology Transfer.
Pick one of ESA’s Patented technologies to make your business solution possible!
Find the list of all ESA patents here.
Below they are grouped by area of application.
- Health/Biotechnology Patents
- Electronics & Communication Technologies
- Materials & New Production Technologies
- Industrial Production & Robotics
- Data Processing
- Security / Safety
- Energy / Environment / Transport
AI (Artificial Intelligence) is exploding with various technologies being developed and applied across diverse industries. Some of the main AI technologies and their current applications are listed below.
Pick which AI technology that you need for your business solution.
- Machine Learning: This enables computers to learn from data and then make decisions and predictions without explicit programming. Applications include:
- Image and speech recognition
- Natural language processing (NLP) for chatbots and virtual assistants
- Recommendation systems in e-commerce and content platforms
- Deep Learning: This is a subset of ML that uses neural networks to model complex patterns and relationships in data. It can be used for:
- Computer vision for object detection and autonomous vehicles
- Language translation and sentiment analysis
- Healthcare for medical image analysis and diagnosis
- Natural Language Processing: ChatGPT is the most popular example of NLP. The technology focuses on enabling machines to understand, interpret, and generate human language. Some applications include:
- Language translation and interpretation
- Sentiment analysis for social media monitoring
- Voice assistants and chatbots for customer service
- Robotics and Automation: AI-powered robots and automation systems perform tasks autonomously or with minimal human intervention. It can be used in:
- Industrial automation in manufacturing and logistics
- Service robots in healthcare and hospitality
- Drones for surveillance and delivery services
- Computer Vision: CV technologies enable machines to interpret visual information from images and videos. Typical applications include:
- Facial recognition for security and authentication
- Object detection and tracking for surveillance and robotics
- Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications
- Natural Language Generation: NLG systems can generate human-like text from structured data. It can be use for:
- Automated report generation in finance and business intelligence
- Personalized content generation in marketing and advertising
- Expert Systems: these use AI to mimic the decision-making processes of human experts in specific domains. Potential uses:
- Diagnostic systems in healthcare for disease identification
- Financial planning and risk assessment
- Reinforcement Learning: RL algorithms learn by interacting with an environment and receiving feedback through rewards or penalties. Areas of application:
- Game playing, e.g., AlphaGo in the game of Go, or Chess
- Autonomous vehicles and control systems