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CS students win European Space Agency competition

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17 March 2015

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Go Bristol! Anda Truta, Alex Dantis, Alex Dumitrescu, and Julian Laval, all studying Computer Science at the University of Bristol, took home the first prize at this year's ESA App Camp in Barcelona, an Earth Observation competition bringing together students, researchers, and programmers from across Europe.

Since 2012, the European Space Agency has hosted an annual competition bringing together participants from around Europe for a week of app development in a bid to support the future of agriculture, renewable energy, and ecological conservation. This year's iteration, organised in conjunction with SAP, sought to find innovative solutions to the aforementioned issues that combine ESA's Earth observation data and the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, with competing teams representing Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Finland, and the United Kingdom.

In early February, concurrent appathons were hosted at ESA Business Incubation Centres in each of these six countries to determine which team would represent each country at the finals in Barcelona. The UK qualifier, held in Harwell mere feet away from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, spelled victory for the Bristol students, whose app concept earned them a spot in the finals.

The students' winning concept, FarmIQ, is the culmination of over a month of work and research. Seeking to solve many of the issues that revolve around food security, the platform is a crop monitoring and management tool with a powerful predictive analysis engine that suggests field optimisations and identifies problems before they happen.

The week-long app camp in Barcelona culminated with the UK team being crowned winners of the competition, with the 5000 euro grand prize being awarded to them at the Mobile World Congress 2015 by none other than Josef Aschbacher, Head of Programme Planning at ESA and Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP.

In addition to competition's cash prize, the winning team has earned the opportunity to integrate the European Space Agency's Business Incubation Centre as well as SAP's Startup Focus Program should they wish to take their idea further. In the meantime, however, it is safe to say that all four winners are looking forward to some well-deserved rest!

More details can be found in the University press release.