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Technology Transfer Programme (TTP)

What is it?

ESA's Technology Transfer Programme (TTP) works to share the benefits of ESA research and development, making space sector technologies available to the rest of European industry.

The Agency's TTP Office identifies industrial needs then maps them to suitable space technologies, as a way of enabling new applications and business opportunities. The TTPO also provides support to new businesses based on the transfer and use of space technologies.

Why is the TTP needed?

A new technology is most often developed in response to a single specific need, but once created it may have multiple divergent uses. ESA’s TTP responds to the need to facilitate the exploitation of these technologies developed for space, in non space applications.

TTP contributes to major ESA’s policy goals such as strengthening the technology base and industrial competitiveness and improving the quality of life of European citizens.

How is the TTP implemented?

The transfer process consists of extracting and marketing suitable space technologies, services and applications. This is done by analysing the needs of non-space applications and identifying suitable space technologies to meet these needs.

ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO) has the overall responsibility for the technology transfer process. The technology transfer process is carried out in several different ways:

  • by the Technology Transfer Network (TTN) involving technology brokers
  • through national technology transfer initiatives (NTTI)
  • through opportunities announced on the Technology Transfer Forum online market place
  • through other initiatives

ESA Business Incubation

ESA Business Incubation that supports the creation of start-up companies

The other area of the TTPO is the ESA Business Incubation that supports the creation of start-up companies whose business idea derives from space technologies or systems by supporting the incubatee companies up to an early state of their development. This includes assistance in operation and business development, giving them access to ESA expertise and a full network of support sources, and also initial funding.

The Technology Transfer Programme Office coordinates three Business Incubation centres in Noordwijk, Darmstadt, Rome and Oberpfaffenhofen.

What benefits does the TTP deliver?

The transfer of space technologies brings real benefits for people on Earth. Space technologies are already being used to enhance the life and well being of ordinary citizens through, producing or improving applications from air purification in hospital intensive care wards,and radar surveying of tunnel rock to improve miner safety, to enhanced materials for a wide variety of sporting products from racing yachts to running shoes.

Space technologies can also be used by manufacturers to create, modify or improve new and existing components and products which, in turn, provide industry, commercial users and ultimately the general public with a wider choice of robust and reliable goods. Technology transfer also strengthens European industry by identifying new business opportunities for providers of space technology and systems. Technology transfer has other less obvious benefits. For instance, in the context of European space activities, technology transfer can:

  • ease the burden imposed on public resources through research and development (R&D) by adapting technologies, systems and know-how developed in the space sector to uses and applications in the non-space sector
  • increase the return on investment in ESA’s space research by its Member States
  • provide cross-disciplinary opportunities for researchers to collaborate with other organisations

The TTP has successfully facilitated more than 230 direct space technology transfers to a diverse range of non-space sectors. More than 55 spin-off companies have been created directly from TTP activities in the last years.

How to participate

The TTP office periodically issues calls for companies to undertake Transfer Demonstrator projects. These involve taking technology developed for space and applying it to non-space uses. In addition, periodic calls are made for both companies and technical authorities to undertake studies into the business/technical case for such transfers. Such calls are issued through MST-Aerospace GmbH, the company that manages ESA's Technology Transfer Network (TTN) and runs the Technology Forum website.

For more information visit ESA's Technology Transfer Programme website.

Last update: 9 December 2012

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