Our Challenges

The sixth round of the INNOspace Masters was running from 30 October 2020 to 12 February 2021. Participants of the INNOspace Masters had the choice to select one out of five challenges, which would fit best on the focus of their idea. The competition is annually awarding innovative concepts and solutions that solve current challenges in space or non-space industries by transferring knowledge or technology. In addition to worldwide network contacts, the winners receive technological and economical support as well as assistance in implementing the project.

Each challenge addresses a variety of topics and focuses on a different phase of maturity – from applied research to market-ready solutions.

Pre-Competition Phase

Research, Development, Demonstrators

Target Group:

Companies (especially SMEs), Universities, Non-University Research Institutions

Initial Phase

Proof of Market, Near-to-Market Prototypes

Target Group:

Start-ups, Research Teams, Students

Innovation and Integration Phase

Technologies, Systems, Services & Solutions

Target Group:

Science & Industry, Start-ups, SMEs, Individuals

DLR Challenge 2020/2021

Acting on behalf of the Federal Government, the DLR’s Space Administration designs and implements Germany’s Space Programme, which integrates all German space activities on the national and European level.
The DLR Space Administration has started the initiative INNOspace® to promote innovations, technology transfer and new markets.

The Challenge of the DLR Space Administration was innovative ideas and concepts leading to improved technologies, processes, and applications by transferring expertise between space and other sectors. This year’s Challenge focussed on:

  • Digital sustainability and security in space (e.g. protection from cyber-attacks like GNSS spoofing, enabling secure communication services, space weather resistance, etc.)
  • Resource-saving approaches in space and on earth (e.g. reusability, green fuels, reduction of redundancy and testing, process optimization, etc.)


Who can apply?

ESA BIC Challenge 2020/2021

The German ESA Business Incubation Centres (BICs) offer the only start-up programme in Germany that promotes company foundations based on technology transfers from and into the space sector from the initial phase up to the marketable product. In close collaboration with renowned partners the programme supports young companies for a period of up to two years.
The start-ups receive financial and technical support as an incentive.

The ESA BIC Start-up Challenge of the INNOspace Masters was looking for new technology transfer ideas and business models from earth into space and vice versa. Potential examples:

  • Mobility applications and solutions
  • Innovative optimisation solutions
  • Increased efficiency and customer orientation solutions
  • Components or subsystems
  • Or any other ideas in the space sector

Start-ups were invited to submit their innovative products or services forx the new space economy and obtain support from Germany’s ESA Business Incubation Centres in entering this future industry.


Who can apply?

Airbus Challenge 2020/2021

With new commercial approaches, Airbus is positioning itself as an European leader at the pinnacle of technology and industrial development.

Airbus welcomes the opportunity to find external innovators with this award, in order to shape the future of commercial space together – along the complete aerospace value chain.

In the challenge, Airbus was looking for exceptional hardware, industrial processes, applications, or business models with relevance for space that are suitable to have a lasting influence on our daily lives. The focus was on solutions enabling sustainable infrastructures on earth and in space on topics such as, but not limited to:

  • Mobility and transportation
  • 5G connectivity and IoT/M2M
  • Agriculture, life sciences and health
  • Microgravity sciences and material research
  • New and sustainable technologies and services

The challenge was specifically addressed at participants who strive to advance into new realms with Airbus, who would like to discover what access to Airbus platforms and services could offer to them and learn how they could interface with Bartolomeo, KIWI, FLP, OneWeb, OneAtlas and others to realise their ideas.


Who can apply?

OHB Challenge 2020/2021

OHB SE is an European aerospace and technology group and one of the major independent forces within the European aerospace industry. Approx. 2,500 experts and executives are working on central European aerospace programmes.

With nearly 40 years of experience in the development and implementation of innovative aerospace systems and projects, and a range of specific aerospace and telematic products, the OHB Group has earned itself an outstanding position and is a renowned entity in international competition.

The growing number of actors and users of space might become a problem for its future utilization. Packed orbits, jammed frequencies, irresponsible actions, space debris… all can influence how sustainable the space business will be in the future. It is important that we find ways to ensure that humanity will be able to continue benefiting from the use of outer space as a resource for big scientific and technological advances.

The development and use of new technologies and processes with focus on space sustainability from space and non-space sectors have potential for greater benefits in the future. OHB was seeking for new ideas for a more sustainable future space sector – from novel concepts to competitive solutions:

  • Ideas and concepts for cost-reduction and efficiency in the manufacturing of future space systems: e.g. robotics systems, automation, power systems, etc.
  • Technologies for better use of the space infrastructure: e.g. applications and services based on space technology, cryptographic technologies, cloud operations, cyber-security.
  • Ideas for commercialisation of space, exploration, experiments and any other inspiring idea in the space sector that might contribute to a more sustainable space business!



Who can apply?

DB Netze Challenge 2020/2021

DB Netz AG, the infrastructure subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG, operates the largest railway network in Europe:

  • Measuring 33,300 kilometres it is three times as long as Germany’s motorways
  • Enabling more than 40,000 customer trains to complete their journeys every day
  • When lining up its 120 million railway sleepers they would nearly reach the moon!

DB Netze is seeking for innovations from the aerospace sector that can be used to intelligently inspect, automatically maintain and continuously monitor the current state of tomorrows infrastructure, in order to make it more efficient, available and robust.

The challenge was looking for participants who aim to support the development of their technical systems with an eye towards achieving an intelligent, interconnected, durable and disruption-free infrastructure and to partner up with DB Netz AG.

DB Netz AG was looking for innovative solutions in the following areas:

  • Predictive maintenance technologies to monitor our technical equipment (railway tracks, switches, signalling equipment)
  • Standalone energy supplies and data transfers for sensors and signalling equipment
  • Rapid recording, transmission and analysis of large amounts of data
  • Materials that will increase the useful life of our technical equipment
  • Protection solutions against weather, aging or erosion of infrastructural elements
  • Digital models for simulating the physical infrastructure


Who can apply?

Evaluation Criteria

Learn which criteria the submission needed to fulfill in order to have the best chances of winning the dedicated challenge.


As a cross-challenge prize, the top 3 teams in each challenge will receive exclusive pitch coaching. Within an interactive training session, finalists have the opportunity to improve and learn their pitches, optimise content and presentation techniques so that listeners can quickly and easily grasp the key points of an idea. The coaching takes place before the Overall Evaluation Meeting, at which the expert jury selects the overall winner of the competition from all of the finalists. The goal of the INNOspace Masters Coaching is to optimally prepare the finalists for their pitches in front of the expert jury as well as for presenting their ideas during the conference and award ceremony.

The coaching  is provided by Airbus Innovation.

When: Spring 2021

Where: virtual

Who: 2 people each per finalist team

Process: Each coaching participant prepares a presentation for the Overall Evaluation Meeting (7 min pitch and 8 min Q&A) in summer 2021. In addition, a video recording of the pitch will be made so that the participants can form their own impression of their performance.

Please note: due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, the coaching will take place virtually.

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