INNOspace Masters 2021/22 – pioneering ideas for the space of tomorrow
(An Article by the German Aerospace Center)

Image: Janusz Heitmann (DLR), Cornelis J.J. Eldering (ESA), Thorsten Rudolph (AZO), Dr Lutz Bertling (OHB), Dr Peter Gräf (DLR), Dr Andreas Kanstein (cesah),
Dr Anna Christmann (BMWK), Andreas Lindenthal (Airbus), Dr Franziska Zeitler (DLR) & Dr Ulf Zillig (Mercedes-Benz)

On 5 July 2022, the winners of this year’s INNOspace Masters competition have been announced and awarded at a conference in Berlin.

A total of 337 companies, start-ups, universities and research institutions from 28 countries participated in the competition.

The next round of the competition will already start at the beginning of 2023.

Focus: Space, innovation, technology transfer

The 15 Best Entries to the INNOspace Masters 2021/22

The 15 Best Entries to the INNOspace Masters 2021/22

The 15 winners of the innovation competition INNOspace Masters 2021/22 have been determined. Five expert jurys selected visionary innovation projects from research institutions, SMEs and startups in fields such as satellite earth observation and satellite communication, medical technology, energy supply, materials science and digitalisation. The winners of the five competition challenges will present their projects at the prestigious INNOspace Masters Conference and Award Ceremony in Berlin on 5 July 2022. The overall winner of the competition and the first places in each challenge will be announced and awarded at the conference. Over the last few weeks, the 153 submitted ideas from 28 Countries have been evaluated by more than 40 experts in a multi-stage process and the 15 best projects selected: Finalists DLR Challenge
  • Ferrotherm – Dr Andreas Dietz, Fraunhofer IST, Volker Weiser, Fraunhofer ICT
  • Pre-Ignition Fire Detection System – Christian Eigenbrod, ZARM, University of Bremen
  • AEROstructure MULtifunctional cover against Environmental radiation – Tino Schmiel, Institute of Aerospace Engineering, TU Dresden, Fabian Schütt, Institute of Material Science, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Finalists ESA BIC Challenge
  • Spacecopter – A Novel Technical Approach for Reusable Space Launch Vehicles – Sascha Larch, Dr Alexander Schwandt, Additive Space GmbH
  • MAS-Tech Solutions. Smartify your component – Severin Reiz, TUM SCCS, Maximilian Binder, Fraunhofer IGCV
  • HERA – Integration of active and passive thermal management system for batteries in electrical cars within a load-bearing structure – Tobias Meinert, RWTH Aachen University
Finalists Airbus Challenge
  • ROBI – The Radiation Monitor, Anirudh Sharma, Shreyas Mirji, Digantara
  • Graphene mirrors for lightweight optical systems – Dr Santiago Jose Cartamil Bueno, SCALE Nanotech
  • Fourth State Systems – From looking for life on Mars, to saving lives on Earth – Anders Persson, Fourth State Systems
Finalists OHB Challenge
  • HELIOS – The next step of interplanetary transportation – Danny Kirmse, Helios
  • AVES Reality – Semantic reconstruction of 3D digital world twin – Florian Albert, AVES Reality
  • Space – Mission Assurance Platform (Space – MAP) – Anirudh Sharma, Shreyas Mirji, Digantara
Finalists Mercedes-Benz car2space Challgenge
  • Xona Pulsar: High-Performance LEO Satellite Navigation – Brian Manning, Xona Space Systems Inc.
  • A scalable solution for lane level positioning – Nicolas Burger, Ludovic Privat, Geoflex
  • Satellite-direct-to-phone service everywhere on the planet – Margo Deckard, Tyghe Speidel, Mahmoud Khafagy, Lynk Global Inc.
INNOspace Masters Conference and Award Ceremony on 5 July 2022 The INNOspace Masters Conference and Award Ceremony will be held at the Humboldt Carré in Berlin on 5th July 2022 and will be streamed live online. The opening remarks will be given by Dr Walther Pelzer, Head of German Space Agency at DLR. This year’s conference will focus on the topic Sustainable and Efficient Innovations for Space and Earth”. You can expect fascinating keynotes and panel discussions with leading stakeholders from politics and business addressing this subject. We look forward to contributions by:
  • Dr Anna Christmann, Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy
  • Timo Pesonen, Director General for Defence Industry and Space, European Commission
  • Catherine Kavvada, Director for Space Development & Innovation, Directorate General for Defence Industry and Space, European Commission
  • Dr Walther Pelzer, Member of the DLR Executive Board, German Space Agency at DLR
  • Dr Ulf Zillig, Vice President, Group Research, Sustainability & RD Functions, Mercedes-Benz Group AG
  • Jasmin Eichler, Director Future Technologies, Mercedes-Benz Group AG
  • Andreas Lindenthal, Head of Business Operations Space Systems, Airbus Defence and Space
  • Dr Lutz Bertling, Member of the Executive Board, OHB SE
  • Bülent Altan, Chief Executive Officer, Mynaric AG
Participation in the conference and award ceremony is free of charge. Those wishing to participate are asked to register online in good time as places are limited.

Statistics of the seventh round of the INNOspace Masters competition

Statistics of the seventh round of the INNOspace Masters competition

Since its inception in 2015, the INNOspace Masters competition has received nearly 800 submissions from companies, SMEs, start-ups, universities, research institutes, non-university research institutions and individuals from around 50 countries. These submissions ranged from basic applied research up to market ready technologies in the innovation and integration phase.

In this way, the INNOspace Masters competition contributes to promoting innovation and commercialising space throughout the entire value creation chain.

The seventh round of the INNOspace Masters has been running from 18 October 2021 to 18 February 2022. In this round we received 153 applications from participants from all over the world, representing a new record of submissions received during a single competition round (previous record: 126 submission in 2020/2021). To give some insights into this years’ submissions, we have prepared some key statistical facts for you:


  • More than 50% of the applications come from start-ups (up from 40% last year)
  • The highest numbers of submissions came from the sectors space, renewables energy, automotive, information & communication and science & technology
  • This year we have an increasingly diverse geographical range with participants from 28 countries from all over the world:
    • 18 European countries
    • 4 African and 4 Asian countries
    • as well as Canada and the USA.

The most promising submissions of this competition round and the overall winner will be awarded at the annual INNOspace Masters conference for “Sustainable and Efficient Innovations for Space and Earthon 5 July 2022 in Berlin.

We are looking forward to exciting keynotes and panel discussions with leading actors from politics and business, as well as insights into the innovative project ideas from this year’s winners. Save the date!

More information including the program of the conference will be available on our website soon.

Satellite-supported systems and services boost efficiency and protect resources in the mobility sector

Satellite-supported systems and services boost efficiency and protect resources in the mobility sector

Satellite-supported systems for Earth observation, navigation and communication are now an integral part of the mobility sector and an important element within the safe operation of all modes of transport: whether in traffic surveillance, management and safety for road and rail transport, in maritime navigation or in aviation.

Satellite-supported value-added services support the efficient and sustainable operation of modes of transport, transport systems, and transport and logistics processes. With their increased reliability and precision, the European satellite navigation system Galileo and the Earth observation program Copernicus, in particular, are driving forward the further integration of satellite-supported services in the transport sector. Future satellite constellations in low-Earth orbits will additionally boost the global availability of communication services for all areas of transport and thus make an important contribution towards networking and safety in the transport sector.

Satellite-supported value-added services on the rise for global traffic management

Satellite-supported value-added services are a growth market, which is expected to grow to a market volume of USD 144.5 billion by 2026[1]. The driver on the demand side is the increasing digitalisation of industry and society and the associated easier integration of these value-added services into industrial value creation chains. On the opposite side, supply is driven forward by the further commercialisation of the satellite market, in which private venture capital is increasingly being provided to establish and develop satellite constellations. In this context, alongside established satellite operators, a whole array of new companies in the “new space economy” have been founded over recent years with the aim of revolutionising the Earth observation and satellite communication market in the coming years. Innovative companies from other industries are also entering the space data market in order to refine this information and make it available to their customers as value-added services. This will also offer a significant benefit for various transport sectors – not least the transport and logistics sector around the world.

High-speed Internet for the global automotive, transport and logistics sector

The most prominent example of this new market is the American company SpaceX. The company is currently establishing its satellite constellation Starlink, which will offer global high-speed Internet access in a low-Earth orbit with ultra-modern satellites. The aim is to provide commercial and private users with a high-quality, fast and seamless Internet connection with data transfer rates between 100 to 200 Mbit/s and latencies of 20 ms. For the first time, satellite constellations such as Starlink are offering users access to high-speed Internet, even in the most remote locations, and are thus driving forward a global standard for connectivity. Connectivity that is available worldwide is particularly important for the transport and logistics sector. Long-haul flights, long-distance transport and international cruise ships and cargo vessels, among others, should benefit from this: operators can thus offer seamless Internet access to their logistics fleets – even in regions where no Internet coverage has previously been possible.

Satellite constellations such as Starlink also want to play a key role in the automotive industry. They particularly want to act as drivers of innovation in the introduction of autonomous vehicles and in the transport and logistics sector, for GNSS vehicle tracking and fleet management. As a response to Starlink, two consortia involving established aerospace companies and the “new space economy” have formed in Europe with the aim of establishing their own sovereign European satellite communications infrastructure. A purely German consortium consisting of the Bavarian companies Mynaric, Isar Aerospace and Reflex Aerospace wants to launch the first demonstration satellite for a future network comprising 400 satellites as early as 2023.

Safety-critical applications in the transport sector benefit from new Galileo services

Satellite navigation has made its way into almost all industries over the last 20 years and plays a crucial role in the entire mobility sector. The global market for GNSS chipsets and devices for localisation, navigation and timekeeping already amounted to USD 93.3 billion in 2018 and is set to grow rapidly in the coming years[2]. According to the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA), satellite navigation supports over 50,000 jobs in Europe each year[3]. Digital routing of ground, water and air-supported modes of transport with the aid of satellite navigation has significantly contributed to an increase in efficiency and safety within the transport sector. What is more, high-precision GNSS time signals are not only essential to precisely determine the position of vehicles, but also to manage and link up transport systems. The current GNSS signals are provided by a range of global satellite navigation systems (Galileo, GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou), regional systems (e.g. QZSS and IRNSS) and satellite-based augmentation systems (SBAS), such as EGNOS or WAAS. The services offered by the European Galileo System promise new opportunities for growth within the transport sectors in Europe with their high integrity, availability and precision. This applies, in particular, to safety-critical applications, such as the management of rail transport, autonomous driving or automated ship manoeuvres in ports.

Innovative service providers within the mobility sector also benefit from new satellite-supported services. New services are being developed, for instance, by the teleoperation provider Fernride from Munich. The company offers a cloud-based platform to reliably control vehicles in the logistics sector remotely. Customers benefit from an automated 24/7 vehicle control system, the efficiency benefits that this brings, and a simultaneous reduction in operational workload.

Earth-observation services for safer, more efficient traffic management worldwide

The increasing number of Earth observation satellites has significantly increased the availability of precise, highly up-to-date information about our home planet over the last 10 years. A variety of value-added services have arisen from this enormous amount of data, bringing about a considerable increase in safety within global air, maritime and ground-based traffic. Satellite-supported weather forecasts provide important data for this, such as information about the paths of hurricanes, storm and thunder cells, wave heights and ice predictions on the oceans, and hail, snow and heavy rainfall. This particularly benefits global aviation and airport management, traffic surveillance and management for road transport, and safe routing in maritime navigation. A variety of smaller service providers have been founded for this in Europe over recent years. Specialised services have developed as a business model, using Earth observation data to offer tailored information for certain market segments and customer groups. The ESA BIC alumni Drift+Noise from Bremen, for instance, offers shipping companies a 10-day ice drift prediction for the polar region based on the Copernicus Marine Service. This enables time-saving and resource-efficient routing and increases safety within polar maritime navigation. Another of many examples is the Bavarian company Wxfusion, which provides airport operators, airlines and pilots around the world with real-time predictions of the paths of thunder cells. This offers customers numerous benefits, which particularly allow aircraft to be operated safely and more efficiently. Earth observation data in combination with ground-supported information sources and real-time information, which is provided by the various modes of transport during ongoing operations, opens up potential for many other value-added services in the future.

Identifying services, which advance sustainability through novel application concepts for space technology and Earth Observation data, is a central pillar of the innovation contest INNOspace Masters. Through its five themed challenges, the international competition is looking for transfer-based innovations in different maturity stages. Submissions can either rely on a spin-off transfer (from space to other industries) or a spin-in transfers, where technology and know-how from other industries is introduced to the space industry. For example, this year the Mercedes-Benz car2space Challenge is searching for space-based services for the automotive industry – among other topics. The competition awards the top three ideas of each partner challenge. In addition to the price pool of up to EUR 400,000, each winner can also count on technical support for the implementation of their vision. All information regarding the challenges can be found here.

[2] Market Report GSA GNSS
[3] EU Agency for the Space Programme

Hydrogen – a key component in a sustainable energy system in space and on Earth

Hydrogen – a key component in a sustainable energy system in space and on Earth

Designing a sustainable energy system is dependent on there being sufficient storage capacities available for green energies. To use energy resources efficiently and sustainably, surpluses from energy production must be stored and distributed geographically or staggered over time. Some promising possible solutions here are based on hydrogen as an energy source. The energy density and diverse applications of hydrogen have led hydrogen technologies to grow in demand and popularity in a wide range of areas.

Decentralised renewable energy production is an area of focus within innovative projects concerning the transformation of municipal energy supply systems. As a result, power-to-gas hydrogen storage systems are being used more and more frequently. Surpluses from solar power generation are converted into hydrogen and stored in such systems using electrolysis. Fuel cell technology makes this process reversible. Intelligent control systems use the hydrogen to produce electricity via the fuel cell where needed. This electricity can then be used efficiently and autonomously as an energy supply.

Autonomous energy systems are based on concepts and technologies that have above all been developed in space. For instance, the first modern fuel cell was developed by NASA for the Moon landings during the Apollo missions. It is the key to closed energy systems and was used during the Apollo missions to produce electricity (up to 2,300 watts per module), heat and drinking water. 

Hydrogen is used as energy storage not only for manned spaceflight but also for satellites and probes. Solar energy has always been used to produce electricity. However, the energy must be stored in order to operate satellites in the shadow of the Earth or Moon. For a long time, conventional batteries were too heavy and bulky to fulfil the requirements in space.

The satellite only needs small quantities of hydrogen and oxygen as fuel in order to produce electricity in fuel cells. When electricity is produced using fuel cells, water is formed as a waste product and stored in corresponding tanks on board the satellite. Once the satellite emerges out of the shadow of a celestial body, the process is reversed. Solar rays are used to produce electricity via solar panels. This enables the water to once again be separated into hydrogen and oxygen by means of electrolysis. This closed energy cycle can thus be repeated almost indefinitely.

This technology has now also found its way into terrestrial industries, such as in municipal energy supply systems. The example of hydrogen technologies as a driver of innovation shows how important cross-industrial technology transfer is for innovation and how it can drive forward technological development in other sectors.

Hydrogen is now considered the key to a sustainable energy cycle on Earth.

To sustainably exploit the potential of hydrogen technologies, initiatives and programmes to develop the hydrogen infrastructure are being initiated both in Germany and abroad. Such initiatives aim to support innovations relating to the manufacture, storage, transport and use of hydrogen.

However, the use of hydrogen is only climate-friendly if it is produced from renewable energy sources. The most important process here is electrolysis, which is perfectly suitable for combining with wind power and photovoltaics. The initiative Green Hydrogen Catapult was launched in 2020 to support innovations relating to electrolysis on an industrial scale. Initiated by an industry consortium of leading hydrogen companies and with the support of the UN, the initiative aims to massively scale up the production of green hydrogen(1) by 2026. The increased availability of green hydrogen resulting from this should contribute towards transforming carbon-intensive industries around the world. This includes, for instance, electricity production, the chemicals industry, the steel industry and shipping. The initiative also aims to reduce costs by 50% (target price USD 2 per kg of green hydrogen) and create 80 GW of electrolysis capacity with systems powered by renewable electricity.

Hydrogen is a key component in a sustainable and future-oriented energy supply. This is not the only reason why the first element in the periodic table offers great business potential. Nevertheless, many innovations will also be required in all areas before a sustainable energy system can be designed. Promoting such innovations is the aim of the international innovation competition INNOspace Masters. With this year’s competition theme, the INNOspace Masters is looking for sustainable and efficient innovations for space and the Earth in five different Challenges.

This year’s DLR Challenge, organised by the German Space Agency, particularly focuses on innovations involving the transfer of hydrogen technologies between space and terrestrial industries. Project ideas are being sought that aim towards a sustainable, safe and efficient energy supply and mobility. Projects can, among other things, be based on the transfer of technologies for manned space stations or regenerative fuel cell systems for satellites and probes. Ideas relating to sustainable hydrogen production, hydrogen-powered heavy commercial vehicles and green hydrogen steelworks are also being sought.

The three best project ideas will each receive up to EUR 400,000 of project support. Alongside the German Space Agency in the DLR as the organiser, the industry partners Airbus, OHB, Mercedes-Benz AG and the German ESA Business Incubation Centres (BICs) are each also offering their own Challenges. You can find all of the Challenges and prizes here.

(1) Green hydrogen – hydrogen produced from water with electrolysers powered by clean renewable electricity

The Impact of Space Innovations on Agriculture, Life Sciences and Human Health

The Impact of Space Innovations on Agriculture, Life Sciences and Human Health

Space plays an important role in promoting human development on Earth. It can help to address global challenges related to climate change and preserving human health. For instance, research and development on the International Space Station (ISS) makes important contributions in the fields of life sciences, medicine, and food science. Space supports research, industry and the emerging new space ecosystem by addressing and overcoming scientific and technological challenges. As a result, it creates new opportunities for the development of advanced solutions, products and business models. These innovations sit at the heart of the emerging New Space economy. Private investment into these emerging businesses is increasing on a global scale, which leads to a process of increasing democratisation of space. The space sector is opening up to an ever-broader number of users by intersecting with other fields and industries. This allows more and more companies to expand their business models through space-based applications, deliver more value to their customers and advance quality of life for everyone back on Earth.

Successful businesses such as New Space start-up yuri, which now offers its services to the ISS, are a testament to these new opportunities. The German start-up offers a one-stop shop for microgravity research with the goal of enabling and expanding research activities and commercial applications on the ISS. The company strongly believes in the enormous benefits that microgravity brings to industries such as pharma, biotech, advanced materials and electronics. As a result of its ambition, yuri developed a simulation platform for micro- and partial gravity experiments as well as for preparation and post-flight analysis of experiments on the ISS. The company supports its customers in defining and preparing the experiments and organises the entire launch logistics as well as the operation and return of the experiments from space. Through its service package, yuri aims to offer low-cost mission prizes that will enable a much larger number of users from research and industry to conduct and benefit from space experiments in a micro-gravity environment.

Even greater potential for industry and society is offered by services based on satellite systems. Global satellite-based services are key to achieving sustainable development goals and helping economies and societies use natural resources efficiently and sustainably on a global scale. In recent years, the emergence of new companies that drive forward innovative business models, products and services to tackle connectivity, digital and climate challenges and accompany technological advances could be readily observed. These developments are raising expectations of cheaper and therefore more lucrative space activities, which has led to the above-mentioned increased involvement of new private investors. However, the majority of established space companies have also begun to adapt and develop new business models. They now understand the so-called New Space economy not only as a driver of innovation but also as a serious cooperation partner. New Space programmes, such as the development and operation of small and micro-satellites, mega-constellations of hundreds of satellites, small launchers, broadband, and the internet-of-things from space, open up a vast array of new technological, manufacturing and financial opportunities for all actors.

Another excellent representative of the new space economy is ConstellR. This German start-up is revolutionising the temperature-monitoring market through Earth observation services. The company is deploying a new satellite constellation that will allow for sub-daily temperature monitoring of the Earth’s surface. Through its sophisticated optical sensor system, ConstellR will be able to deliver land surface temperature (LST) readings with higher radiometric accuracy compared to other state-of-the-art satellite systems. LST data is the primary dataset for monitoring applications across different markets as well as the basis for many remote-sensing products. This includes evapotranspiration and water stress monitoring as well as crop yield prediction models. In order to provide meaningful data, such thermal infrared information must be provided daily, globally and at the level of a single field. Data like this is crucial to manage future food production in light of changing climatic conditions and increasing water scarcity.

The combination of different geo-information sources and their automated evaluation with artificial intelligence (AI)-based methods facilitates efficient added-value services along the entire value chain. Earth observation and satellite navigation systems are used in precision agriculture to optimise crop production by combining geospatial information – for example on land humidity – and applying high-precision agriculture techniques for spraying and harvesting. It is estimated that using GNSS/EGNOS and Copernicus together can help to increase yields by more than 10 per cent and reduce consumption of inputs such as fuel, fertiliser and pesticides by up to 20 per cent (United Nations, 2018). To achieve this, the sustainable and efficient use of satellite-based services must be deeply integrated into industrial value chains. Application developers, data providers, hardware manufacturers and users must work closely together to optimise the overall socio-economic impact and stimulate further innovation.

The potential for innovation can be found everywhere, from data generation in space to its use by end customers on the ground. One such example of the use of AI to increase the quality of Earth observation data is the start-up ClearSky Vision from Denmark. An inherent problem with satellite imagery is atmospheric disturbance, which makes the information gained from the images less abundant and reduces viability for tracking smaller changes through Earth observation data. To solve this problem, the company uses AI to remove clouds, shadows, and image artifacts from optical imagery. By combining data from multiple different satellites in orbit, ClearSky Vision is able to provide daily, up-to-date, cloudless satellite images and thus enables continuous agricultural monitoring.

INNOspace Masters is looking for innovative solutions and business models along the entire space value chains. Agriculture, biosciences and human health can benefit greatly from space research and satellite-based infrastructures. The competition is seeking research and development projects and experiments on the ISS, satellite-based services and new sensors and evaluation methods. Proposals for the INNOspace Masters should aim to enable sustainable and efficient applications and business models in space and on Earth as well as application areas and business models on the ground.

Find out more about this year’s challenges, benefits and the partners of the competition in the INNOspace Masters Webinar Series from 6 December to 22 December 2021.

Sustainable and Efficient Innovation for Space and Our Planet

Sustainable and Efficient Innovation for Space and Our Planet

Satellite systems in the Earth observation, navigation and communication sector have become crucial for our modern society and help us foster sustainable development back on Earth. To name an example, businesses throughout industries rely on satellite navigation services for precise geolocational data to improve construction surveying, enable connected vehicles or to optimise traffic management. Earth observation data helps clean energy providers and cities to become greener – and its citizens to lead healthier lives. A study from the United Nation Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) from 2018 shows that almost 40 per cent of the 169 SDG targets directly benefit from using EGNSS and Copernicus services.(1)

However, sustainability and efficiency are not the first themes that come to mind when talking about space and satellite technology. In fact, in some ways, the whole notion of space-related activities seemingly contradicts these terms altogether, especially when looking at the resources that are needed to implement space transportation, satellite construction or rocket launches. Building and commissioning new satellites remains a lengthy process that requires a lot of resources, manpower and extensive financial budgets. In addition, satellites that are no longer operational are often in need of replacement. They then put a further strain on the environment by requiring more resources for the construction and launch of replacement satellites.

At the same time, the amount of orbital space available for new satellites and satellite systems is constantly becoming smaller, with an ever-increasing number of satellites being launched each year. Besides operational satellites, non-functional satellites are blocking otherwise usable orbits. Unfortunately, disposing of them is very complex and not always possible. Besides, malfunctioning satellites cannot be easily fixed. When satellites temporarily break down or fail entirely due to technical outages (e.g., caused by space debris), the ramifications include more than just economic losses for the organisations involved. The loss of data from these satellites impacts emergency response services, security agents and other institutions on Earth and leads to negative consequences, as those services depend on these satellites for their day-to-day operations.

Thus, it is essential to find ways to protect existing satellite infrastructures in the long run to ensure that our vital systems on Earth run smoothly. Making satellites sustainable and manufacturing them to last as long as possible should be a key point on the agenda. This entails setting up special security measures to prevent harmful hacker attacks by malicious agents. But it also means that new ways need to be found to protect the satellites themselves, as they are increasingly endangered by a growing amount of space debris in orbit.

OKAPI:Orbits, a German start-up, is tackling exactly this challenge with its Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST) software, which is designed to mitigate the increasing risk of collisions and disruptions in orbit. This solution took second place in the INNOspace Masters ESA BIC Challenge 2019 and went on to receive developmental support in the ESA’s business incubation programme in Hesse, Germany. In October 2020, OKAPI:Orbit entered the market with its first collision prevention product for satellite operators. This young German company is making a key contribution with its AI-driven software solution and helps bring forward more efficient and sustainable space applications by protecting objects that are already in orbit from potential damage.

A different approach towards sustainability lies in finding a solution for restoring damaged or obsolete satellite modules in orbit instead of losing and replacing the entire satellite –called on-orbit servicing. The iBOSS project, which is supported by the German Space Agency at DLR, focuses on developing an intelligent modular system for such an on-orbit satellite servicing and assembly approach. Software tools make it possible to design and simulate new satellites that are able to achieve very short ready-to-launch times. The long-term goal is to have these tasks performed by service satellites, which would also increase efficiency and reduce the human resources needed.

Sustainability also entails the use of natural resources and energy in a way that does not harm the environment on Earth. Therefore, new and innovative ways of reducing stress on the environment need to be found. This could be achieved either by reducing the need for new satellites by exploiting synergies and cooperating with existing solutions or by making sure that new satellites are manufactured and launched with consideration for sustainability and ecological aspects throughout the supply chain.

For this year’s competition, INNOspace Masters is launching an open call for new ideas and solutions that address these problems. These could be new technical solutions for satellites, such as using lighter materials, delivering higher communication security through quantum encryption, exploring new energy storage systems or employing artificial intelligence for data evaluation in satellites.

Increasing efficiencies throughout the product life-cycle is equally important for the development of the space sector and the New Space economy on Earth. However, achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort and expense is a difficult task to achieve in the field of space. Numerous test launches are necessary, thousands of hours of research and countless pilot projects are inadvertently part of advancing the space industry. And even though every actor would like to avoid wrong turns and dead-ends, trial and error are a natural part of research and development.

Nevertheless, as has been shown by past winners of the INNOspace Masters, there are ways to increase efficiencies even in this field. This could be done by pushing and developing cost-effective access to space know-how and activities for businesses and industry. Small satellite launchers are one example of how this is already successfully executed, as they offer low-cost access to space for many small-scale satellite projects by commercial companies. But there are many more ways in which efficient solutions for space can be executed, such as optimising the production processes of space systems, accelerating the transfer of large amounts of data from satellites to the ground or using machine intelligence for processing satellite data.

Innovations and ideas at any stage of development are welcome. Whether entrants wish to submit applied research or a market-ready product or service, the INNOspace Masters partners are sure to offer the right challenge and assistance to the eventual winners. Potential participants from the fields of research and industry are invited to submit their proposal for the INNOspace Masters 2021/2022 by 4 February 2022.

To find out more about this year’s challenges, participate in the interactive webinars offered by the partners of the competition from 6 December to 16 December 2021.


(1) Joint report with the EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA, formerly GSA): “European Global Navigation Satellite System and Copernicus: Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals. Building Blocks towards the 2030 Agenda.” 2019.

INNOspace Masters 2022: Database open to entries since 18 October

INNOspace Masters 2022: Database open to entries since 18 October

Since last week, visionary teams and individuals from industry, research and universities once again have the chance to become part of the INNOspace Masters success story. For the seventh time now, the competition is looking for outstanding transfer-based project ideas at different stages of maturity – from application-oriented fundamental research to market-ready solutions. These can be spin-in ideas (into space from other industries) or approaches that add value in terrestrial industries by using space applications (spin-off). Renowned partners award prizes in five themed challenges. The winners of each challenge will receive tailored prizes worth up to EUR 400,000 per winner to enable them to implement their ideas in the best possible way, as well as gaining access to a network of internationally renowned experts. The entry period runs until 4 February 2022.

By linking space with terrestrial industries, the INNOspace Masters competition has been successfully initiating transfer-based technological developments, innovative services and company start-ups since 2015, thus laying the foundations for future innovations. Integrated into an international network, the competition tracks down new business ideas and trends each year. In the last six years, prizes have already been awarded to a total of 72 winners, who were selected from over 500 innovative business ideas from over 1220 participants from 26 countries. This not only promotes the transfer of technology between space and other industrial sectors, but also strengthens the New Space Economy in Germany and Europe.

“We are delighted that the INNOspace Masters has developed over the years to become a driving innovative force for the European New Space Economy. We are convinced that, with this year’s thematic orientation of the INNOspace Masters, focused fully on sustainable and efficient innovations for space and Earth, we can once again help many visionary researchers and companies to implement their creative solutions,” explains Dr Franziska Zeitler, Head of the Innovation & New Markets department at the German Space Agency in the DLR.

The competition is aimed at companies, startups, universities and non-university research institutions, as well as consortia and individuals whose projects transfer expertise and technologies from other sectors into space (spin-in) and vice versa (spin-off). Innovators with new technological ideas, applications or business models with a focus on “Sustainable and efficient innovations for space and Earth” are invited to help shape the next generation of space. This year, prizes will once again be awarded by renowned partners in themed challenges, such as: sustainable, safe and efficient energy supply, digital sustainability, hydrogen technologies, resource-conserving approaches, Earth observation and environmental monitoring, mobility, 5G connectivity, commercialisation of space and cost reduction. This contest is hosted by the German Space Agency in the DLR, the ESA Business Incubation Centres in Germany, Airbus, OHB and, for the first time, also by Mercedes-Benz AG.

“We are proud to be able to welcome the pioneer in the automotive industry, Mercedes-Benz AG, as a new industrial partner to the INNOspace Masters and are looking forward to our exciting work together to achieve a more sustainable future. Mercedes-Benz AG’s participation in the INNOspace Masters is a powerful statement that shows the wider business interest in the New Space Economy and the ideas of innovators,” explains Thorsten Rudolph, CEO of AZO.

The winners of the individual competition categories and the main winner will be announced during the annual INNOspace Masters Conference and Award Ceremony in Berlin in July 2022.

IN­NOspace Mas­ters 2021: In­no­va­ti­on Through Competition (An Article by the German Aerospace Center)

Image: Dr Walther Pelzer, Member of the Executive Board, German Space Agency at DLR

The winners of the sixth round of the innovation competition have been awarded now.

The sixth INNOspace Masters conference took place virtually on July 29, 2021 under the motto “Innovations for sustainable infrastructures – in space and on Earth”

A total of 330 companies, start-ups, universities and research institutions from 23 European countries took part in the competition.

The winners include quantum processors for satellite communications, solutions for precision agriculture and a small satellite for the disposal of space debris.

Focus: space, innovation, technology transfer

The 15 Best Entries to the INNOspace Masters 2020/21

The 15 Best Entries to the INNOspace Masters 2020/21

The 15 winners of the innovation competition INNOspace Masters 2020/21 have been determined. A jury of experts selected visionary innovation projects from research institutions, SMEs and startups in fields such as medical technology, materials science and digitalisation. The winners of the five competition challenges will present their projects at the prestigious INNOspace Masters Conference and Award Ceremony in Berlin on 24 June 2021. The overall winner of the competition and the first places in each challenge will be announced and awarded at the conference.

Over the last few weeks, the 126 submitted ideas from 23 Countries have been evaluated by more than 40 experts in a multi-stage process and the 15 best projects selected:

Finalists DLR Challenge

  • QuVeKS – Dr Tobias Vogl, Institute for Applied Physics, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
  • SpaceFlow – Jan Girschik, Fraunhofer UMSICHT
  • TOMOPLEX – Alexander Hilgarth, Prof. Sergio Montenegro, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

Finalists ESA BIC Challenge

  • Intelligent system maintenance and current monitoring – Katharina Ostaszewski, PhySens GmbH, TU Braunschweig
  • Micro G Scope – Jorge Remírez Miguel, Alfredo Martinez Ramirez, JMP ingenieros SL
  • SISSI – Marcus Witt, Metrom Mechatronische Maschinen GmbH

Finalists Airbus Challenge

  • ALReCo – Frank Koch, Orbit Recycling
  • DigiFarm – Nils Helset, Konstantin Varik, DigiFarm AS
  • Versatile approach for cloudless optical satellite data – Morten Fjord Pedersen, Malthe Dahl Jensen, ClearSky Vision

Finalists OHB Challenge

  • DEBRIS – Niklas Wendel, German Network of Young Scientists – juFORUM e.V.
  • DLTEO – Ignaty Romanov-Chernigovsky, DLTEO GmbH
  • Sustainable spacecraft propulsion by water as the expellant mass – Christian Stampa

Finalisten DB Netz AG Challgenge

  • Ai-powered aerial image analysis – enabling continuous monitoring of infrastructure & preventative maintenance– Adrian Sossna, HACARUS INC.
  • Magnetic rail infrastructure monitoring – Henriette Struckmann, PhySens GmbH
  • Monitoring of traffic routes by a solar-electric-powered ultralight aircraft and innovative multi-sensor 3D capturing and processing technology – Prof. Florian Siegert, Dr. Sven Schmid, 3D RealityMaps GmbH, Elektra Solar GmbH

INNOspace Masters Conference and Award Ceremony on 24 June 2021

The INNOspace Masters Conference and Award Ceremony will be held at the Humboldt Carré in Berlin on 24th June 2021 and will be live-streamed online.

The opening remarks will be given by Dr Walther Pelzer, Head of German Space Agency at DLR. This year’s conference will focus on the topic “Innovations for Sustainable Infrastructures – In Space and on Earth”. You can expect fascinating keynotes and panel discussions with leading stakeholders from politics and business addressing this subject. We look forward to contributions by:

  • Dr Josef Aschbacher, ESA Director General
  • Thomas Jarzombek, Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy
  • Dr Walther Pelzer, Member of the DLR Executive Board, German Space Agency at DLR
  • Dr Matthias Maurer, German ESA Astronaut
  • Dr Christoph Wolff, Global Head of Mobility, Member of Executive Board, World Economic Forum
  • Andreas Lindenthal, Head of Business Operations Space Systems, Spacecraft Equipment, Space Systems Germany, Airbus
  • Dr Lutz Bertling, Member of the Executive Board, OHB SE
  • Dr Kristian Weiland, Chief Technology Officer, DB Netz AG

Participation in the conference and award ceremony is free of charge. Those wishing to participate are asked to register online in good time as places are limited.