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How to participate in ESA procurements

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 As a fundamental rule, participation in ESA procurements is open to all economic operators (which term includes also institutes, universities, etc.) of Member States or Associated Member States participating in the programme(s) concerned, and is in principle restricted to such economic operators. In some special cases, bidders from non-participating Member States, registered in the ESA List of Potential Suppliers, may be allowed to bid for some procurements.

As explained in Topic 2 ‘The Basic Principles of ESA's Procurement Approach’, for most ESA procurements, and for research and technology activities in particular, open competition is the rule.

There are, however, exceptions to this rule depending on the nature of the procurement: i.e. competition may be restricted to some pre-selected economic operators or direct negotiation may be applied for specific reasons.

The limitation of economic operators allowed to present an offer may also result from specific reasons such as :  limitation to economic operators of Participating Member States in optional / a la carte programmes, or to economic operators of some States in the frame of special industrial policy measures to redress the situation of countries in geographical return deficit.

In some programmes even more restrictive rules of participation are applied, namely for example potential bidders are invited by the Invitation to Tender/ Request for Quotation (ITT/RFQ), to verify whether their National Authority is prepared to financially support the activity in question before preparing an offer.

For major procurements such as satellites or launchers, the industrial policy and geographical return constraints, combined with the rate of contribution of the main participants, limit in practice the procurement of some key activities (prime contractorship, assembly / integration / verification) to economic operators of these States and in some cases even to one of them only.

In other cases, limitations can result from ESA approved policies setting specific measures for the development of a level playing field for equipment suppliers (excluding “Large System Integrators” from the competition on equipment related technology programmes), or from measures in support of SME and R&D entities.

The Invitations to Tender (ITT) will contain precise information on the rules of participation applicable to each procurement. Potential bidders are invited to carefully check and observe these rules (and ask for clarification in case of doubt) to avoid the effort and cost of preparing and submitting an offer which may be excluded from consideration by ESA.

The Invitations to Tender (ITT) are available on-line via the EMITS system.

EMITS (Electronic Mail invitation to Tender System)

 The Agency has developed an on-line information system offering to ESA potential bidders, via Internet, all the relevant information concerning ESA procurements, a list of intended ITTs as well as access to the issued ITTs.

This system ,known as EMITS (Electronic Mail Invitation to Tender System), is managed and operated by the ESA Procurement Department and is accessible at the following address :

The primary objective of EMITS is to guarantee the principle of fair competition and fair access to ESA’s procurement at all levels.

EMITS is the only channel for obtaining access to the ITTs released by ESA.

Access to, provision of access credentials (ID code and password) and use of EMITS are free of charge.

Services provided

EMITS provides the following on line services for potential bidders and for ESA Member States delegations (please note that non registered users may have a limited access to some elements of information):

A. List of Intended Invitations To Tender (IITT)

A list of Intended Invitations to Tender (IITT) defining the ESA procurement programme for the year is issued by the Agency on EMITS at the beginning of the year and is updated at least once a month. The ESA List of Intended Invitations to Tender contains the actions that are funded and approved for initiation. Potential suppliers are invited to regularly consult this list.

For each listed IITT a summary note of the intended action will be found (short description of the work to be carried out, estimated price range, countries allowed to present an offer, planned publication (quarter), the initiating services within ESA, etc.).

Registered users (having obtained an ID and password), if interested in participating in an activity of the IITT list should declare their interest to ESA by following the on-line instructions (the user has the option to make this expression of interest known to ESA only or also to other EMITS users that might be interested in associating for the tender).

B. Open Invitations to Tender

The summary note of the ITTs (see A above) will at that stage also indicate the ITT issue date and date for submission of the offers.

Registered users (having obtained an ID and password) will in addition have full access to the ITTs issued that are open to the economic operators of their country of registration. This will allow them on one side to download the whole ITT package (Cover letter, Statement of Work, draft contract, Special conditions of tender, clarifications issued) and on the other side to provide their expression of interest (for ESA only or also for other EMITS users) to submit an offer.

The registered users can configure the settings of EMITS in order to receive various automatic notifications (as for example notifications of ITTs issued and of their corresponding clarifications).

C. ESA standard administrative and technical reference documentation and relevant Information for potential bidders.

D. Entity Registration facility

The economic operator willing to become an ESA supplier needs to register in the ESA list of potential suppliers. This registration is compulsory and is a very simple process: the applicant needs only to fill in a questionnaire (button “Entity Registration”) and return it to ESA. ESA, after checking that the economic operator qualifies as ESA supplier will subsequently provide an ID and password for accessing the restricted part of the EMITS system (see point B above). The information provided for the registration must be updated once per year.

E. Industry information

From EMITS it is possible (button “Industry Information”) to access the ESA “yellow pages” containing general information and contact points for registered economic operators and the specific list of SME’s registered with ESA.


The comprehensive EMITS system simplifies the procurement process both on the procurers’ and the suppliers’ side.

Furthermore, it is to be noted that the EMITS infrastructure is also made available to major space companies that can make use of it for their procurements (related or not to ESA programmes). In this case reference is made to “EMITS for External Entities” (button “Entities”). ESA is not responsible for the management and operation of “EMITS for External Entities”.

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