Participate now in the third round of the ESA Telecom Start-up Initiative

MTI satellite
MTI satellite
15 April 2003

In order to help Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) enter the satcom sector, ESA Telecom has launched the Start-up Initiative which lasts from 14 April to 16 May 2003.

Two have been held in the last two years and the results have encouraged ESA Telecom to expand and refine the scheme to build on the initial success.

When asked about their experiences in the earlier rounds, participants were undivided in their enthusiasm. According to Keith Smith, Director of Actinus, a UK based company which wants to provide end-to-end Internet Access in the Maritime Environment, ‘ESA’s name certainly opened doors for us and being an ESA Contractor is such an advantage that we have yet to exploit its full benefits’.

The field of satellite communications can be difficult and complicated for smaller and new businesses to enter. The technical and commercial risks, as well as the perceived complexity of the field, can act as strong deterrents to entrepreneurs and potential financiers alike. However, satcom provides many exciting possibilities for new technology, applications and services in such areas as mobile communications, Internet, multimedia, broadcasting and location-based communication systems. And it is not only the large enterprises that can exploit these opportunities successfully.

ESA support also found its supporters. Laurent Roullet of France’s Udcast, which intends to develop router software enabling full IP over broadcast links remarked: “I found the lab-demonstrations extremely useful and the technical support excellent”. He went on to add: “The financial support is generous for a small company and shows that ESA Telecom firmly supports new projects.” Both contractors also lauded the application process which according to Mr Smith: ‘Was very well done and gave structure and clarity to the proposal preparation.

The scheme provides for the award of development contracts up to EUR 300 000 for propositions that include the satcom component as an essential element. Two possible funding levels depending on the commercial maturity of the proposition will be applied:

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, with identified market opportunities.

Any small or medium-sized business from a country participating in this initiative is eligible to apply. These countries are Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Luxemburg, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Particular attention will be paid to proposals from companies that have never had a contract with ESA before.

The aim of the Start-up Initiative is to ensure that at the end of the project, companies are in a position to progress the commercial exploitation of their proposal. In addition to the financial support, ESA will also use its expertise and contacts to bring together complementary ideas and ventures in the satcom field.

Norbert Huebner, ESA Telecom’s contact person for Start-Up Initiatives, states that: of the 69 companies which passed the Complete Proposal Phase, 31 received contracts, ‘A very good success rate’. He adds that: “Those companies which were not selected in the earlier rounds and still want to re-apply should focus on the feedback we gave after the evaluation of the proposals.

The Third Round of the ESA Telecom Start-up Initiative lasts from 14 April to 16 May 2003. For further information and to submit the outline proposal, please refer to: http://telecom.esa.int/startup.

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