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EMITS: ESA’s on-line procurement information system

ESA’s Invitation to Tender System EMITS

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EMITS is the European Space Agency’s official electronic mailing system for handling its Invitation To Tenders (ITT) and relevant information for ESA procurements.


The EMITS (Electronic Mailing Invitation to Tender System) of ESA has been operational since the mid 1980’s. Its primary objective is to guarantee the principle of fair competition and fair access to ESA’s procurement at all levels.

Originally used exclusively by ESA for its own competitive procurement activities, over time the system has evolved considerably, gaining an interactive dimension by responding to the increasing needs of its users both inside ESA and outside. In the later case a number of public organisations have expressed their interest in using it or developing similar systems.


The Web based EMITS provides the following on-line services for companies, research institutions, universities and ESA Member States delegations.

1. List of current Intended Invitations To Tender (IITT)

Each listed IITT consists of a summary of the work to be carried out, an estimated price range, the planned publication date in terms of yearly quarters and the initiating services within ESA. This list is updated at least once a month.

Any company interested in participating in an IITT listed activity can declare its interest on-line.

This “expression of interest” function can be made public and the company can introduce a link either to its web page or a particular page set up for this activity.

When made public all users accessing EMITS will be able to see the expression of interest and the related link. This feature allows a proactive search for industrial partnerships and is a valuable tool for SMEs to make themselves known.

2. List of current Invitations To Tender (ITT)

Each listed ITT contains a summary of the project and its associated technical, administrative and contractual requirements.

Whether made public or not any company having registered its expression of interest under the IITT function will automatically receive an e-mail notification from EMITS once the IITT activity is put on line as an official ITT published by ESA.

The fact of not having expressed its interest under the IITT does not preclude a company from doing so when the ITT is published. Similarly companies having expressed their interest can either confirm it or withdraw it at the time of the ITT.

3. ESA standard administrative and technical reference documentation and relevant Information for Industry

These online reference documents and information come in support to companies in order to help them in elaborating their tenders in compliance with the ITT specific requirements ( i.e provided list of SMEs users of EMITS, who satisfy the SME definition criteria of ESA for cases of compulsory involvement of SMEs in the industrial team).

4. Industry Web Portal

This link from EMITS provides industry with a wide range of useful information on how to do business with ESA trough forums, news, a space directory of companies working with ESA (facilitating the search of partners), publications and so on.

The above mentioned EMITS services allow companies to obtain information about potential partners and establish contact with them (Yellow pages); thus fostering interaction between potential bidders and improving opportunities for networking.

EMITS for external entities

ESA recently carried out a consolidation of its procurement procedures by adapting and implementing a certain number of measures to ensure a fair allocation of activities among industrial firms, in particular among prime contractors and equipment suppliers while guaranteeing the principle of fair competition and fair access to ESA’s procurement at all levels especially for what concerns the involvement of SMEs. This exercise resulted in the adoption of a contractual requirement document known as “Best Practices for the selection of Subcontractors by Prime Contractors in the frame of ESA’s Major procurements” (see Related links).

Building on its original benefits, a new version of EMITS which implements the requirements set in the “Best Practices” was developed in order to enable “Other Entities” outside ESA to use the system. All the services provided and described above are made available to these entities and allow them to carry out open competitive procurements in the frame of space related programmes for which they have an industrial responsibility either as Prime Contractors or major subcontractors.

This new version of EMITS is operative since September 2001 and its use is mandatory in the frame of ESA programmes. This is also true for entities such as national agencies to which the management of an ESA programme has been delegated.

EMITS is also made available to those entities, if they wish so, for the publication of space related procurements not related to ESA programmes, i.e national space programmes.

Accessing the services

Access to, and use of, the EMITS database are free of charge, but is protected by means of user ID and password.

The ESA Contracts Department in co-operation with the Industrial Policy and Cost Analysis Department (both located in Head Office, Paris) maintains a list of potential suppliers and their areas of interest. This list is open to all companies qualified and interested in 'doing business with ESA'.

The companies willing and qualified to become an ESA supplier may freely register to the above list of potential suppliers. The registration is a simple procedure, applicants need only to fill in a questionnaire and return it to ESA, which shall subsequently provide them with a password to the EMITS system.

The only costs incurred for using EMITS are those related to the basic hardware required (standard office automation equipment), the Internet service provider costs and the pertaining telecommunication cost.


The EMITS system is particularly advantageous as it does not only strengthen the relationship between business and public administration, but it also serves as a communication channel between industries.

The comprehensive system of EMITS simplifies the procurement process both on the procurers’ and the suppliers’ side. It especially facilitates access to call for tenders for small and medium size enterprises.

The EMITS system is also beneficial in increasing the transparency of ESA procurement procedures as well as giving ESA more insight on the procurement procedures applied by its Contractors in the frame of its programmes.

The present and the future

The ESA has at the moment 15 full Member States, a further two States have initiated the process of becoming Members and Canada has a cooperation agreement with the Agency.

More and more companies from member countries and Canada are now accessing the EMITS procurement system to track space procurements, obtain information on SMEs and identify potential industrial partners with the help of EMITS special information hosting services. An average of 10 000 users log in the EMITS site each month, a number which shows a steady increase.

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