ESA Business Incubation at ESOC
The European Space Agency seeks entrepreneurs with innovative ideas for using space technology, applications and services in a non-space environment. One of the Agency's Business Incubation centres is located at ESOC to help innovative project ideas get off the ground by providing technical expertise and business development support.
The ESA Business Incubation Initiative and its associated network of business incubators is designed to bridge the gap between an idea and an actual business by helping technology transfer projects get started and assisting their development into a viable business.
The ESA Business Incubation Initiative is managed Agency-wide by the Technology Transfer Programme (TTP) Office, which is part of the Directorate of Technical & Quality Management at ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands. The Initiative aims to facilitate the use of space technology and space systems for non-space applications, further demonstrating the benefit of the European Space Programme to the European citizens.
Incubation at ESOC
Technology innovation in and around ESOC has been strong since the centre was established in the 1960s.
In the past few years, local entrepreneurship received a boost through the set-up of a local ESA Business Incubation centre, coordinated by experienced space professionals at ESOC and implemented by an external contractor, the Centre for Satellite Navigation Hessen GmbH (cesah).
Centre for Satellite Navigation Hessen (cesah)
As partner of the ESA Business Incubation Initiative, cesah is the contact point at ESOC for entrepreneurs with a business idea related to satellite navigation or related areas. cesah is an experienced competence, information, and incubation centre for satellite-based applications and is located within Darmstadt's Technology and Innovation Centre (TIZ), just a few metres from ESOC.
Founded through a common initiative by the German State of Hessen and the European Space Agency, cesah was established in 2006, with a focus on satellite navigation and applications.
Next to its main stakeholder, the State of Hessen, the centre is owned by the city of Darmstadt, the Technical University and Hochschule Darmstadt, T-Systems GmbH, VEGA, and INI-Graphics Net.
ESA, cesah and the European Satellite Navigation Competition
In cooperation with ESA and the Hessen technology support agency, Hessen-IT, cesah serves as the local organiser for the European Satellite Navigation Competition, held in 2009 from 1 May to 31 July.
The European Satellite Navigation Competition is a worldwide innovation contest that recognises the best ideas for innovative applications in the field of satellite navigation.
The kick-off of this year's competition for the Hessen region was hosted by ESOC on 23 April 2009, with opening addresses by ESA's Director for Operations & Infrastructure, Gaele Winters, and Steffen Saebisch, State Secretary in Hessen's Ministry of Economics, Transport, Urban and Regional Development.
ESA's Technology Transfer Programme Office collaborates with the European Satellite Navigation Competition to promote spin-offs from space technology.
In 2008, ESA introduced a special 'Innovation Prize' recognising the best idea for the use of global satellite navigation systems; the prize committee seeks ideas that can be quickly implemented and which will have a long-lasting influence within the area of implementation.
The winner of the ESA Innovation Prize is to be hosted at one of the ESA Business Incubation centres.
ESA Europe-wide incubator activities
Since the start of the ESA Business Incubation Initiative five years ago, some 70 incubation projects have taken off at the three incubation centres located at ESA's Establishments at ESTEC (Noordwijk, the Netherlands), ESOC (Darmstadt, Germany), and ESRIN (Frascati, Italy) and the number of incubatees is growing steadily.
As a result, various technological spin-offs from satellite navigation, satellite communications, remote sensing, satellite operations, and other areas have been transferred into business activities like health care and medicine, materials, leisure and sports, textiles, education, IT, social networking, gaming, construction industry and flood monitoring.
ESA offers a common support package to its incubatees including seed funding (sourced from ESA and the local region), technical support (from our labs and in-house experts), support in the development of the business plan, promotion, marketing and communication support, access to international networks (via the ESINET incubator network), investor-related training and access to the ESA Investment Fund or other venture capital sources.
Proposals to the permanent open call for ESA Business Incubation are evaluated by two consecutive Tender Evaluation Boards according to ESA General and Specific Requirements and a number of criteria related to the background and experience of the team, the business case, the technology and service area.
Another important consideration is the possibility for generating Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs).
For more information on business incubation at ESA/ESOC and cesah:
Contact at ESOC:
Alexander Cwielong, alexander.cwielong [@] esa.int, OPS-PMY Strategy, Method & Process Unit, Tel: 6-3108
Contact at cesah:
Centre for Satellite Navigation Hessen GmbH
Dr Frank Zimmermann, Executive Director
incubation [@] cesah.com