Irish start-up wins respected technology innovation award from European Space Agency

Irish technology start-up ‘Vicinity Systems®’ has been awarded first prize for Ireland at the European Space Agency’s prestigious technology awards ‘The Galileo Masters’. The awards took place in Munich, Germany. In addition to winning the regional prize, the company was also shortlisted for the ‘ESA Special Prize for Innovation’, and was runner up for the global technology award. It is the first time that an Irish company has won a prize.

The technology under development by Vicinity Systems® increases the driving range of electric vehicles. Through integration with in-car SatNav, the technology analyses all potential routes to a destination and calculates the most power efficient – in consideration of mountains, traffic and other obstacles which consume battery power.

The Galileo Masters, also known as the ‘European Satellite Navigation Competition’ (ESNC), is an international technology innovation competition that recognises the best ideas in the field of satellite navigation, the technology that powers in-car SatNav systems. The competition seeks to gather outstanding solutions for commercial applications of satellite navigation and promote individual ideas by offering prizes. In 2012 there were over 400 entrants from around the globe.

Receiving the award, company founder and chief technologist Con Costello commented: “This is a great validation of our technology. Electric cars are the future; the US alone is spending $2.4 billion in the development of electric vehicle technologies. It’s important that Irish companies get in early and secure intellectual property.”

Since the inaugural awards in 2004, the competition has transformed into an international network that embodies innovation and expertise with the support of leading stakeholders in the field, such as the European GNSS Agency (GSA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). Since 2011, the competition is also supported by the European Commission.

The Irish competition is coordinated by the National Space Centre in Midleton, County Cork. The National Space Centre is Ireland’s only teleport. It is involved in emerging satellite technology projects – including the development of S-AIS and marine mapping projects with the European Space Agency and has provided technical support services for Europe’s Galileo Satellite Programme.

The Galileo satellite programme is a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) currently being built by the European Union and European Space Agency. The primary aim of Galileo is to provide a high-precision positioning system upon which European nations can rely, independent of the widely used Global Positioning System (GPS) operated by the US Department of defence.