This site uses cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. Find out more about our cookie policy and how to change the setting on your browser.
  +32 2 772 8900


Please wait...

European Space Agency

 160 and going strong

Space technologies and infrastructure offer countless possibilities for commercialisation in various branches of industry and thus, play an increasingly important role in the European start-up scene. The European Space Agency (ESA) has supported 160 start-up ventures at its seven ESA Business Incubation Centres; there have been 50 new ventures each year and the numbers are on a steady rise. The starting point for more than a third of the ESA BIC incubatees were two well-established ideas competitions - namely the European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) in the field of satellite navigation and the GMES Masters in the area of Earth monitoring. The dnumber of companies that have spun out from these contests indicate the potential in such initiatives to  generate and acquire  promising business cases and qualified start-up teams.

“The ESA BIC programme in combination with these innovation competitions have demonstrated the power of this European approach to boost entrepreneurship in the space-based downstream business” said Frank Salzgeber, Head of ESA's Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO).

Rising numbers

Since 2004, more than 2,200 business ideas have been submitted for the annual competitions, one third of which have been put into business action, or are currently under development.  Certainly this success rate indicates the potential of the competitions to boost entrepreneurship the field of space-based downstream applications.

Each year, the winning ideas in each category of the two competitions are presented at the Awards Ceremony in the famous Munich Residenz in October. “We look forward to award the most innovative ideas for commercial space applications and are excited to see the areas in which ideas have been submitted this year,” said Thorsten Rudoph, Maniging Director of AZO. Frank Saltgeber adds: “We encourage all winners and participants to apply for business incubation at one of the seven ESA BIC locations in Europe to turn their ideas into reality.”

For more information on the ESA BIC programme please visit: &

For more information on the ideas competitions please visit: &

Inroads everywhere

TTPO coordinates the ESA BIC network at its seven locations in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and Belgium. The ESA BIC programme provides start-up financing and technical support to promising new ventures that make commercial use of space technologies and infrastructure. Of the products and services of the currently 160 ESA BIC companies 44 percent are derived from space technologies, 38 percent use satellite navigation, 10 percent Earth observation, and 8 percent satellite communications. They carry out their businesses in a wide range of business areas such as aviation, automotive, energy, finance & assurance, robotics, sports & leisure, telecommunications... to name just a few sectors. ESA BIC companies demonstrate success in cooperating with industry leaders in their industries of operation This is impressively demonstrated by the expanding list of well-known industry partners such as Airbus, BMW, Bosch, Inmarsat, Lufthansa, Thales, or T-Systems, and many more. The success formula for the cooperation with leading companies is the benefit that the companies gain from the incubation programme and the network of the ESA BIC branding on the one hand, and the technical support of local partners, as well as mutual support of other incubatees on the other.

To launch a successful start-up, a promising business case is needed. Idea competitions provide a great way to get business concepts evaluated by professionals. They also offer a platform for publicity and networking – two important steps in establishing a new venture. Since their business cases have already been approved by experts, winners of the ESNC and GMES Masters have excellent chances of being accepted into the ESA BIC programme. The two innovation competitions are organised by Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen (AZO) – which ialso manages the ESA BIC Bavaria – with the aim to encourage innovative products, services, and business concepts.


The European Space Agency (ESA)s Europe's gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe's space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. ESA is an international organisation with 19 Member States.  Each year they produce an impressive number of incubatees through a set competitions that promote innovation and entrepreneurship creating high-knowledge jobs and transfer of technologies.



Published on 14-10-2012 16:20 by David Tee. 1451 page views

Back to TBI list
EBN Newsletter
Our Publications
Our Network
Sector Specialisation

Vertical Sectors

Cross-cutting Themes


 Recent Tweets