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N° 34–2002: New ESA initiative to fund SME satcom innovations

21 May 2002

The European Space Agency (ESA) today launched a second and expanded round of funding for innovative R&D initiatives in satellite communications (satcom) from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). ESA's first round of funding last year is already supporting projects in fields including transportation management, tracking systems, integration of satellite IP networks and interactive satellite advertising. Claudio Mastracci, ESA's director of applications, commented: " When we introduced the scheme last year, we were impressed by the variety of ideas put forward. Building on our experience with the first initiative, we have fine-tuned the scheme to increase flexibility and the support we provide throughout the application process. We look forward to seeing many more interesting proposals with the potential to enhance the competitiveness of the European and Canadian satcom industries."

Companies selected to join the scheme will be offered technical and financial support of up to EUR 300 000 to develop their concepts to a level where commercial funding can be sought. The scheme might fund new uses for existing satellite technologies (to provide new Internet, multimedia, location-based communication or mobile applications) or support new systems and technologies with the potential to improve existing services.

Two possible funding levels are available, depending on the commercial maturity of the proposal.

a)financial support up to 100% (max EUR 300 000) for validation of concepts in early stages of development involving innovative technologies with perceived high commercial and/or technical risks,

b)financial support up to 50% (max EUR 150 000) for integration and demonstration activities based on existing technologies tailored to pre-operational products, systems and applications, also involving high risk, but with identified market opportunities.

ESA will also use its expertise and contacts to bring together complementary ideas and ventures in the satcom field.

Recognising the resource issues faced by small companies, ESA has created a fast-track application process allowing applicants to submit tentative ideas for initial feedback, before producing a full proposal. Initial ideas will be accepted over a four-week period from 21 May 2002.

Any small or medium-sized business from a country participating in ESA's Telecommunications Programme is eligible to apply. Participating countries are Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. Particular attention will be paid to proposals from companies who have never had a contract with ESA before.

Further information about the scheme and how to apply, including the online application form, is available on the ESA Telecom Web site www.Telecom.esa.int

Note to Editors:

ESA Telecom is the department of the European Space Agency responsible for co-ordinating, shaping and supporting European and Canadian innovation in satellite communications. It ensures that member countries remain competitive in the global satellite communications market by providing a lead in research and development activities. ESA Telecom also plays a crucial investment role in the commercial marketplace, supporting the development of new satellite systems and technologies in preparation for future services.

For further information contact:

Carlo Elia / Norbert Huebner

Telecommunications Department

ESA/ESTEC - The Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)71 565 4987 / 4199

e-mail: Carlo.Elia@esa.int / Norbert.Huebner@esa.int

or

Franco Bonacina

ESA Media Relations Office

ESA Head Office, Paris

Tel. + 33 (0)1 5369 7713

e-mail: Franco.Bonacina@esa.int

For further information:

Franco Bonacina - ESA Media Relations
Tel: +33.(0)1.5369.7713

Carlo Elia/Norbert Huebner-ESA Telecommunication
Tel: +33.(0)71.565.4987/4199


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