It takes inventiveness to design for space. The new technologies, systems and know-how making ESA missions possible often hold much wider potential in the terrestrial sphere. It is the task of ESA’s Technology Transfer and Patent Office to explore this potential by identifying and developing novel business opportunities for providers of space technologies and systems.
We forge links between the space sector and the rest of industry to find new homes for ESA’s trail-blazing innovations, inspiring novel business opportunities, products and services. In the process we increase the returns on public investment that initially gave rise to these technologies, enhance products and processes across a wide variety of fields and hone Europe’s competitiveness.
We provide economic potential and motivation for both space technology providers and industry across sectors in need for solutions throughout the technology transfer process. The result is a win-win for all sides. ESA Member States see their research and development investments pay off in unexpected ways; the space and non-space sectors minimise any duplication of research while space engineers gain cross-disciplinary opportunities to collaborate with other organisations.
How we work
It all starts with technical solutions born in/for space. Our Technology Transfer function begins by identifying space technologies that might be possible for transfer, arising from ESA R&D contracts or ESA’s inventions.
We also make contact with space companies interested in commercialising their capabilities beyond the space field.
The next step is to progressively de-risk these technologies for participating companies through the performance of feasibility studies, proof of concepts and operational demonstrations, giving them the confidence to move forward with transfers.
Beyond this, we also provide Technical support for the companies as the transfer process continues, by facilitating regular contact with the inventors and the rest of ESA’s technical specialists.
We also manage ESA’s Patents portfolio and provide access to them in line with an attractive licensing policy. ESA-owned patents are available on a free-licence basis for space use by companies based in ESA Member States. For all other cases they are available on more commercial terms.