Global competition of AI and space technologies

The Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), Portugal Space Agency (PT Space), European Space Agency (ESA) and Unbabel Labs open competition for a €500,000 award that will combine Artificial Intelligence and space technologies to solve major sustainability issues.

It’s the first worldwide competition to combine AI and emerging space technologies to find solutions for the detection, location and monitoring of maritime waste along the water column on a planetary scale.

Teams will have access to AI resources, Earth Observation Data from constellations of satellites and supercomputing capacities.

Created to effect positive social change on a large scale, this global competition invites teams to solve complex societal problems through innovative uses of AI and emerging space technologies.

Fifty years after humankind took its giant leap, the AI Moonshot Challenge calls on participants worldwide to leverage AI technology and data to solve the most pressing issues back home. By attracting and supporting global talent in their efforts to execute ambitious plans for large-scale change, the competition will position Portugal and Europe at the vanguard of Artificial Intelligence and emerging space technologies.

The inaugural edition will focus on Waste Management and Sustainability – specifically on detecting, localising, and monitoring maritime waste on a planetary scale. The challenge is to combine massive sources of data from a range of different sensors of different types and spectral wavelengths, including Earth Observation Data, to identify maritime waste along the water column (i.e., floating and non-floating). Teams from around the world will compete to put forward the best solution to this formidable environmental problem, applying advanced machine learning techniques to analyse massive amounts of Earth Data.

By providing teams with access to AI tools and supercomputing resources, the competition will attract diverse participants, including students, startups, research centers and universities.

Pre-registration opens today, at where participants can also find a detailed timeline. Starting in January 2020, participants will have nine months to develop, experiment, and validate their AI solutions with big Earth Data.

The winners will be announced in November of next year, at Web Summit 2020, and receive an award of €500,000 to build a team of experts and perform further research in Portugal over a period of up to two years.

The AI Moonshot Challenge is the result of a unique partnership between the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), the Portuguese Space Agency (Portugal Space), the European Space Agency (ESA) and Unbabel Labs, the moonshot projects team of Unbabel. This partnership will be created in close collaboration with Minho Advanced Computing Center (MACC) and is promoted through the Portuguese Innovation Agency (ANI).

If you would like more information please check or contact

Portugal Space
5 of November, 2019