GSTP 6.2 Competitiveness Element – always open for business

Does your company or institution have a promising concept requiring further development to be market-ready? Then ESA wants to hear from you.

Element 2 of ESA’s General Support Technology Programme, known as GSTP 6.2 or the Competitiveness Element, invites proposals on an ongoing basis for development of new products.  The project can include the introduction of new technologies or techniques to develop new products or enhance existing ones.

With GSTP 6.2, industry is in the driving seat: proposals can be made at any time from any commercial entity within GSTP-participating Member States, with industry defining the work to be done.

Unlike other elements of GSTP, the Competitiveness Element is based on a permanently open Announcement of Opportunity, as opposed to issuing Invitations to Tender at particular times.

Up to 50-75% of the project will be funded by ESA (depending on the Technology Readiness Level being targeted and the types of organizations involved in the development) with the remainder of funds coming from the project partner(s).

A single always-open tender template makes all necessary information available at once, with a proposal template, and a streamlined proposal process make submitting ideas much easier.

Access to ESA’s Electronic Mailing Invitation to Tender System (EMITS) is required to submit proposals; find out how to gain that here.

 You will also need endorsement from your National Delegation for your proposed activity.

Technology Readiness Levels

What sort of R&D does GSTP 6.2 support?

GSTP covers all technology domains other than Telecommunications, which has its own dedicated Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems, ARTES, programme. So this means Earth observation, Science, Robotic exploration preparation, Human spaceflight and exploration preparation, Space transportation and re-entry technologies, Navigation, Generic technologies and techniques and Technology Transfer.

ESA technology programmes are organised around the NASA-originated Technology Readiness Ladder to quantify the readiness of all new developments for flight in space. It is made up of the nine Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) listed in the diagram above.

GSTP is concerned with converting promising concepts into flight- or market-ready products, covering TRL 3 – 9. Within that, GSTP 6.2 is concerned with the span to TRL 3 to 6 or7, ending with producing commercially-ready products.

GSTP 6.2 covers both equipment or software for space and the ground.

Unlike GSTP’s previous permanently open Announcement of Opportunity, GSTP 6.2 does cover new developments of previous ESA technology programme projects.

What are the funding rules?

GSTP 6.2 is a co-funded programme. The maximum level of funding available from ESA depends on the TRL level being targeted by the project, and the type of organisation doing the work.

For projects seeking to development TRLs from 3 up to 5 (equivalent to the production of an engineering model of prototype), 75% funding is the maximum available from ESA. For projects seeking to bring TRL up to 6 or 7 (equivalent to preparing a commercially-ready product), 50% funding is the maximum available for larger companies and other institutions, with small-medium sized companies, SMEs, having a maximum 75% funding available.

Who owns the project results?

The project partner owns the intellectual property rights (IPR) arising from developments in these contracts. ESA is, however, allows to use, free of charge, the IPR for their own projects.

How does the submission process work?

You begin by downloading the ‘always open’ ITT from EMITS; log in and search for AO/1-7935/14/NL/Cbi .

You begin by completing an Outline Proposal (approximately 15 pages) along with a letter of support from your National Delegate. It is vital to contact your National Delegation early in the process in order to check on the availability of funding as well as relevant national processes and policies.

Then, once the outline proposal approval has been received from ESA, the Full Proposal (approximately 100-150 pages) can be filled out. ESA approval is mandatory in advance of this submission. The Full Proposal should include a business case for the product or technique being targeted.

To make the submission process easier, the GSTP 6.2 ITT includes a detailed proposal template and checklist.  By making it easier for industry to make proposals, ESA wants to speed up the proposal submission and evaluation process and help identify the winning ideas to boost the competitiveness of the European space sector. 

Last update: 18 July 2014

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