Entrepreneurial Teams Seminar 2008
Teams of students from four universities participated this month in a competition to find the best commercial technology transfer case at a one-day ESA 'Entrepreneurial Teams' seminar arranged by ESA's Technology Transfer Programme Office.
"The Entrepreneurial Teams Seminar introduces students to the world of technology transfer and the opportunities for using space technologies in non-space applications; brings together students from engineering and business administration and gives students 'a taste' of what it is like to be an entrepreneur," said Niels Eldering from ESA's Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO).
This event took place at ESA's Business Incubator in ESTEC, the European Space Research and Technology Centre in the Netherlands. At present, 15 entrepreneurs are starting up businesses based upon spin-offs from ESA's space technology at the Business Incubator.
The idea of holding a seminar where tomorrow's scientists and business people could work together on a technology transfer project for one day originated in 2003; this idea has now developed into the ESA Masterclass 'Entrepreneurial Teams', an annual event organised by ESA's Technology Transfer Programme Office in collaboration with the Erasmus University Rotterdam Study Association for Entrepreneurship, Organisation and Strategy (EUREOS).
This year's students came from three universities in the Netherlands: the Technical University of Delft (TU Delft), Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Nyenrode Business University in Breukelen.
The day began for the 17 students with introductions by Niels Eldering from ESA's TTPO, and lectures by Dr Claudia Werker from TU Delft and Dr Jean Verhardt from the Maastricht School of Management; Verhaert is also an entrepreneur at the ESTEC Business Incubator. The speakers gave their views on the value of innovative technologies and how they can influence entrepreneurship and spoke about entrepreneurship in general.
In addition to providing an opportunity for ESA to present future business leaders with the idea of using available advanced space technologies in non-space fields, the seminar also provided an opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience of working in an entrepreneurial team to gain success.
"Mixing teams of students from business and technical backgrounds encourages an exchange of views and shows the advantage of combining different ways of thinking," emphasised Niels Eldering.
After a tour of ESTEC's test facilities the students were divided into four multidisciplinary teams, each choosing between several space technologies with significant spin-off potential. One was the European Galileo Satellite navigation system, another the advanced mechanical damping facility developed for space structures called the Smart Passive Damping Device (SPADD) technology.
"It was really hard to choose only one because each presents many interesting opportunities," said one of the participants.
In the limited time available, the four teams developed business proposals using the selected space technologies. The winning team applied the accurate tracking qualities of Galileo to define and develop a new 'fair fish' label. The idea was to provide fishermen with an easy tool to decide where to fish in accordance with the established international rules and agreements. This would then enable them to use the 'fair fish' label and demand a higher price for their products.
"This idea can be applied relatively fast which is an important factor," said jury member Dr Verhardt in announcing the winners.
"What makes this day unique," noted Carlijn Broekman from the EUREOS Board, "is that students from different backgrounds come together in an extraordinary setting with two things in common: an interest in space technology and the drive to explore entrepreneurship."
Recognising the value of the day and the good results reached by the four teams, Erwin Koenraads, also a member of the EUREOS Board added: "Next year it would be good to spend more time working on the cases; this could increase even more the value of the seminar".
ESA's Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO)
The main mission of the ESA TTPO is to facilitate the use of space technology and space systems for non-space applications and to further demonstrate the benefit of the European space programme to European citizens. The TTPO is responsible for defining the overall approach and strategy for the transfer of space technologies including the incubation of start-up companies. For more information, please contact:
Technology Transfer Programme
European Space Agency - ESTEC
Keplerlaan 1, P.O. BOX 299, 2200 AG, Noordwijk
Office: +31 (0) 71 565 3910
Fax: +31 (0) 71 565 6635
Email: ttp @ esa.int