Boosting business with technology from ESA
The recent inauguration of the European Space Innovation Centre in the Netherlands, already hosting one of ESA’s six business incubation centres, will help to ensure that investments in space programmes continue to deliver benefits to all.
The European Space Innovation Centre (ESIC) is a minicampus for knowledge-intensive companies involved in aerospace.
Located in the Space Business Park near to ESA’s ESTEC space research and technology establishment in Noordwijk, itis promoting the exchange of knowledge between advanced technology and space activities, as well the exchange of technology and expertise between space programmes and terrestrial applications.
ESIC was inaugurated on 8 December 2011 in the presence of Liesbeth Spies, representing the Province of South Hollandand now Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations for the Netherlands.
Also present were Leendert de Lange, Alderman of Economic Affairs in Noordwijk, Jasper Wesseling, Director for Spatial and Regional Economic Policy in the Netherlands’ Ministry of Economic Affairs, Frank M.Salzgeber, Head of ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office,and Franco Ongaro, Director of ESTEC, the largest ESA site and the scientific and technical heart of the Agency’s space programmes.
At the opening, Mr Ongaro emphasised the importance of how we need to shape the development of Europe’s space capacity and support space business developments to achieve this, as well as spin-offs with non-space sectors.
“We need to ensure that investments in our space programmes continue to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world, and this is also done by supporting startups and entrepreneurs as we do in our business incubation centres.
“Innovative businesses, often small companies, can turn out great spin-offs based on our space technology and systems developments when properly supported both with technical advice and seed money.
“They come forward with their own ideas and strategies, but we can help them through the start of their company, their product development and to realise their businesses.”
Leenderd de Lange explained the significant economic advantages of ESIC’s space businesses, Jasper Wesseling focused on the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Netherlands and the role of space exploration technology, and Liesbeth Spies noted the importance in particular for South Holland of space science and related research and development (R&D) that translates into new business.
The main company in ESIC is the ESA Business Incubation Centre (BIC) Noordwijk, the first incubation centre that ESA opened in 2003 as part of the Agency’s efforts to spinoff space technology to terrestrial applications.
Since then, the centre has nurtured more than 50 startup companies developing innovative solutions and services based on space technologies, expertise and procedures, all the result of Europe’s R&D investments in space.
“We have currently 13 startups on the way and plan to support 40 new ones over the coming four year,” said Toon Buddingh from BViT Noordwijk BV, contracted to run the BIC on behalf of ESA.
The centre offers startup companies both technical expertise from ESTEC’s specialists as well as help on logistics and corporate issues to get their businesses going.
The success of ESA BIC Noordwijk has been extended by the opening of four more BICs in Germany, Italy and the UK, with another planned for Belgium.
ESA’s Business Incubation Centres
In 2003, ESA decided to set up the BICs as part of its technology transfer programme, with the intention of helping entrepreneurs and young companies to use space technologies and knowhow in innovative new products and services in non-space fields.
Successful BICs have already been established in the Netherlands (Noordwijk), Italy (Frascati), Germany (Darmstadt and Bavaria) and the UK (Harwell). Being near major space sitesensures that specialist advice and consultancy is never far away: ESTEC at Noordwijk, ESOC at Darmstadt, ESRIN at Frascati, DLR institutes at Oberpfaffenhofen and the Harwell Oxford science parks in Oxfordshire.
A sixth BIC is in the planning for the Belgian Wallonia region close to ESA's Redu Centre, to be launched soon.
ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO)
The TTPO’s main mission is to facilitate the use of space technology and space systems for non-space applications and to demonstrate the benefit of the European space programme to European citizens.
The office is responsible for defining the overall approach and strategy for the transfer of space technologies, including the incubation of start-up companies and their funding. For more information, please contact:
ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office
European Space Agency
2200 AG, Noordwijk
Tel: +31 71 565 6208