The main objective of the optional Prodex Programme (PROgramme de Développement d'Expériences scientifiques) is to fund industrial development of scientific instruments or experiments, proposed by Institutes or Universities in the participating Member States, that have been selected by ESA for one of its programmes in the various fields of space research, such as science, microgravity and Earth observation.
The programme offers institutions and industry the opportunity to get involved in ESA experiment design, manufacture and verification.
Prodex also helps countries to obtain a fair return on their ESA investments through such targeted industrial contracts. It also promotes scientific and industrial excellence and competitiveness in the participating states.
Prodex was set up in June 1986 to enable the scientific institutions of several ESA Member States with limited funding, to get involved with experiments and instruments.
Nowadays, Prodex coordinates experiment development and awarding. It also implements and monitors industrial and institute contracts for a wide range of experiments or space scientific hardware development.
ESA’s Prodex website gives background information on this programme, how to get involved, and lists ongoing programme elements in the various Participating States. A detailed User Guide can be downloaded that explains the organisation, provides the implementation rules and contact information.
The procurement approach
All industrial procurements follow the Code of Best Practices for ESA procurements, which describes the procurements being conducted in open competition within ESA Member States and Associated States.
Due to the optional character of the Prodex Programme and a guaranteed return to participating Member States, procurement actions in open competition are limited to the participating states and may be further restricted within under-returned countries.
In limited and justified cases, procurement actions are approved in direct negotiations with selected companies. This applies mainly to procurement items that can be provided by only one unique supplier.
As for all optional programmes, the Industrial Policy Committee, which comprises representatives from the ESA Member States, approves the procurement approach for every large procurement activity.
Non-industrial procurement of hardware, software and services from scientific institutes are, due to the nature and objectives of the activity, mostly conducted in direct negotiation.