CASSINI Maritime Prize

Almost 26 million tonnes of plastic waste are generated in Europe every year and around 80% of marine litter is plastic. It causes one of the most pressing environmental problems, posing threats on aquatic life, ecosystems and human health due to contamination of food and drinking water. It has also important economic impacts on coastal communities, tourism and fisheries. Space-based remote sensing technologies and data, however, can play a significant role in detecting, tracking and mapping concentrations of plastics, identifying hotspots and sources of the litter, detecting proxies of potential plastic pollution and can contribute to the effective deployment of clean-up solutions. 

To tackle the global plastic pollution crisis, the European Commission launched the EIC Horizon and CASSINI Prize for digital space applications (HORIZON-EUSPA-2022-MARITIME-PRIZE) aiming at developing space solutions to track and remove marine plastic pollution. 

The Prize builds on the exploitation of the EU Space Programme which consists of several flagship programmes, including:

  • Copernicus - Europe´s Earth observation programme
  • Galileo - EU´s Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), providing improved positioning and timing information with significant positive implications for many European services and users. 
  • EGNOS - the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service,  the EU´s regional satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS). 

1. Objectives

The objectives for this call were as follows:

  • to stimulate the development of innovative solutions using EU Space Programme data;
  • to solve problems related to the detection, monitoring and the removal of microplastics, plastic litter as well as of larger items in rivers, shores and coastal zones, to support the prevention of ocean pollution;
  • to attract dynamic innovators, to mobilise private investment and generate “close-to-market” solutions

Since the contest aimed to create a new ecosystem of entrepreneurs, applications were only open to SMEs. All proposed solutions had to be close-to-market and be able to prove their effectiveness in a real-world demonstration. 

2. Expected results

The prize will be awarded to one or several best data-driven marine or maritime digital application(s) meeting the criteria of the contest. The application uses Copernicus and/or Galileo data in combination with other data sources, and aims at solving problems or meeting customer needs related to the detection, monitoring and tracking of plastic pollution in rivers, lakes, shores and coastal zones and to support its removal in order to support the prevention of ocean pollution. The awarding of the prize is expected to leverage more private investment capital to the winning contestant.

The presented solution shall be:

  • a data-driven marine or maritime digital application, which uses Copernicus data and/or Galileo/EGNOS signals in combination with other data sources;
  • able to detect, monitor and/or track plastic pollution in rivers, lakes, shores and coastal zones and to support its removal in order to support the prevention of ocean pollution by using EU Space Programme data and services, such as Copernicus Sentinel satellite data, Copernicus information services and Galileo/EGNOSS signals at the core.
  • able to withstand a demonstration in an operational environment.

Applicants are otherwise free in their choice of technical solutions and can use various approaches, including (but not limited to):

  • a combination of satellite data, with EGNSS powered drones, aircrafts, balloons, vessels, buoys, imagery from installed cameras at land, as well as other non-space relevant data and technologies;
  • the integration of very high resolution satellite data or other space data from commercial providers, preferably European, and other useful data and services, as they see fit to solve the challenge;
  • the use of suitable technologies such as UAVs or piloted aircraft empowered by EGNSS, for example equipped with specific sensors such as high-resolution and hyperspectral cameras to gather data on the presence of plastics, identifying concentration hotspots;
  • passive and active remote sensing technologies as well as active technologies;
  • new remote sensing data processing techniques/algorithms, modelling and experimental techniques.
  • digital service, data processing and/or analytics tools, and/or systems or subsystems, making use of innovative technologies, such as (but not limited to) artificial intelligence.

3. Available Budget

The total prize is EUR 2.85 million. The top three proposals are eligible to win EUR 0.95 million each, which can be used to help further develop and commercialise your solution. 

4. Deadlines and Rules of the Contest

Submissions closed on 03 May 2023 17:00:00 Brussels time

Updated: Nov 01, 2023