ESA’s NPI initiative, introduced in 2005, has supported more than 270 PhDs and Post-Doc research carried out by universities and research institutes on advanced technologies with potential space applications. It has fostered increased interaction between ESA, European universities, research institutes and industry.
Proposals accepted by the Initiative are offered support in a number of ways:
- Co-funding – The NPI can co-fund research up to 50% or €30,000 per year for a doctorate degree or post-doctoral investigations
- Access to ESTEC laboratories: NPI participants are able to use ESTEC facilities for a minimum of six and a maximum of 12 months
- Technical support – NPI participants gain access to ESA experts with whom they can discuss proposal concepts and verify their potential for space applications
- Networking – NPI participants will be able to search for industrial partners for further cooperation and build 'innovation networks' through ESA links
Upon selection of a proposal, ESA enters into a contractual arrangement with the university or research institute concerned as the researcher will remain a student or employee of the establishment concerned.
NPI has provided an important opportunity for the space sector to take advantage of potential spin-ins from new technologies from non-space sectors such as consumer electronics, material sciences and the emerging nano and microtechnology domains.
By intensifying its interaction with university departments and research institutes, ESA has strengthened the links with space institutions and industry, encouraged them to embark upon space-related technology and to make an important contribution to meeting the long-term needs of Europe's space programme.
In 2019, research co-funding will be integrated into the new Open Space Innovation Platform (OSIP). OSIP builds upon the successful experience of the NPI initiative, but it is larger in the scope, more open and engaging and aims at increasing the number of co-funded research activities.
How to apply
Universities and research organisations are invited to submit their innovative doctoral or post-doctoral research proposals via OSIP at https://ideas.esa.int.
The OSIP platform will be made available during the first quarter 2019 for new submissions and contain all the relevant information on the new scheme.