ESA is launching its Downstream Gateway, a ‘one-stop shop’ service for all downstream opportunities, creating links between new and emerging business sectors and the capabilities being developed in ESA programmes.
‘Downstream’ means all those activities based on space technology, or using a space-derived system in a space or non-space environment, that may result in an application, product or service to the benefit of the European economy or society.
For example, ESA downstream activities have enabled data from satellites to transform businesses on Earth, from international transport to rural education. Innovative services worth over €200 million have been launched in over 500 businesses.
While ESA has various programmes focused on downstream activities that have been operating successfully over the years in line with its space domains, such as Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications or human spaceflight, the Downstream Gateway provides a single interface to ESA, enabling new downstream communities to interact more easily with ESA as a whole.
This new interface implements new ESA-wide functions to provide easy access to ESA expertise in applications and technical domains.
The team behind the Downstream Gateway includes a core group of ESA business, marketing and technical experts, benefiting industry by also linking prospective new customers and investors to European companies offering readily available solutions that match new customer needs.
Marking its launch, the Downstream Gateway has issued a Call for Ideas on ‘Space for Urban Innovation: Smart cities’ to reinforce its already established role in this sector. Becoming a ‘smart city’ is not a goal, but rather a necessity. The current world population of 7.6 billion is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050, most of whom will live in cities.
Smart cities use different types of 'sensors' to collect data to manage assets and resources efficiently. The associated technologies are aimed at making cities data-driven to meet citizens’ needs; allowing systems and services to be responsive and act on data in real time. Smart cities are, in fact, complete ecosystems devoted to creating sustainable and resilient urban areas for the benefit of society and the local and global economies.
With this Call for Ideas, the Downstream Gateway wants not only to gather valuable input and identify promising ideas within Europe for smart city products, application and services relying on space capabilities, but also to help ESA establish the support such ideas need in order to become fully operational and commercially successful systems.
ESA intends to collect as many ideas as possible, evaluate them and, for those ideas considered relevant and falling within the objectives of the ESA programmes, provide the opportunity of being (co-)funded and supported by ESA experts through the different phases of their projects using the available ESA contractual schemes.