You are here

New ESA BICS and Ambassador Platforms for Switzerland and Austria

November 2016 – With two announcements this month, the European Space Agency continues to advance its long-term strategy of expanding and developing outreach programmes that target in particular European SMEs, with the goal of fostering new products, services and applications which make use of space capabilities.

On 10 November, an ESA Business Incubation Center (BIC) combined with an Integrated Application Promotion Ambassador Platform Switzerland was opened in Zurich. On 11 November, the ESA BIC / Ambassador Platform Austria was launched.


The Swiss launch event. From left to right: Nanja Strecker (project manager BIC), Jan Wörner (ESA DG), Mauro Dell’ Ambrogio (State Secretary for Education, Research, Innovation, SERI), Detlef Günther (Vice President ETH), and an ETH representative

ESA and Switzerland’s Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), agreed to establish ESA BIC Switzerland with the following aims:

  • Use of a public-private partnership framework (PPP) for funding and governing

  • Incubation of businesses both in space technology as well as applications and services based on space-data and assets

  • Awareness-raising within Switzerland’s ecosystem of business incubation and venture capital for space business incubation

ETH Zurich was awarded the contract in September and the new ESA BIC has been launched after just a two-month ramp-up period.

Under the terms of the agreement, the new BIC will have an annual budget of €5 million, of which €2 million will come from ESA and the Swiss Federal Government, with the remainder made up by private funding and additional public sources.

This funding will give the new BIC the capacity to support up to ten startups every year. It will offer young entrepreneurs support for up to two years. In the first phase of their activities, the startups will receive a total of €50,000 and can expect up to €450,000 in further support during the second phase. The newcomers will have access to individual coaching, networking activities and a Europe-wide network of industry and research contacts.

The existing Swiss Ambassador Platform will be incorporated within the new BIC.


The Austrian launch event. From left to right: Rector of Graz University of Technology Harald Kainz, Federal Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology Jörg Leichtfried, ESA DG Johann-Dietrich Wörner

ESA’s newest Ambassador Platform is based in Austria at Science Park Graz, a business incubator with a 15-year track record of interfacing with science and industry. It is supported by stakeholders which include the regional governments of the State of Styria, the City of Graz, Graz University of Technology and other universities in the region. The platform will be represented by Martin Moessler, Prof Hans Sünkel, and Inês Plácido. The latter previously represented Ambassador Platform Portugal.

In January 2017, AP Austria will launch the Small ARTES Applications Open Call for Austria. Its purpose is to stimulate the submission of feasible ideas for innovative services using space assets within non-space markets (e.g. transport, energy, health, agriculture, environment, tourism, manufacturing, media, etc.), opening a possible path to follow-up commercial market applications supported by ARTES Applications. The Call will co-fund proposals up to €25,000, sharing up to 50% of total project costs. It is open to all entities, including those who have not participated in ARTES Applications projects before.



Community reference: 

Seedstars Summit 2016


Startups in emerging markets take a leap into space

Space technology startups at the Seedstars Summit to be awarded Space Prize grant worth USD 50,000.

As part of the third edition of the Seedstars World competition, designed to celebrate entrepreneurialism and technology in emerging markets, Seedstars, Inmarsat and AP-Swiss will be presenting a Space Prize at the competition finale, Seedstars Summit on 3 March 2016. Together with Seedstars, they have selected seven promising startups that are going to compete for USD 50,000 grant:

EnduroSat (Sofia, Bulgaria) designs and engineers smart and affordable spacecraft for business applications and space exploration missions.

Evreka (Istanbul, Turkey) is a real time logistics solution for waste management companies that uses IoT and M2M technologies.

Juabar (Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania) is a network of solar electricity stores that provides electricity and connectivity services as well as distributes electronic products through its kiosks.

MapTasking (Panama, Panama) is a platform to send tasks to remote employees and track their progress.

Merchandiser (Beirut, Lebanon) is an analytics management solution that reduces significant loss in sales by automating the merchandising process.

Modular Innobox (Johannesburg, South Africa) designs and pilots modular social businesses inside shipping containers in rural and low income communities

SolarizEgypt (Cairo, Egypt) is a solar power solution that provides a balanced cost/value proposition to emerging markets.

In addition to the grant, the winning startup will also benefit from both companies’ invaluable industry knowledge and technical expertise. Throughout the Seedstars World tour which began in April 2015, Inmarsat and AP-Swiss joined Seedstars regional teams in the Middle East, Africa and Asia to explore the potential of space and satellite technologies for areas where there is currently little or no internet connection. This is the first time, Seedstars, the global organization focused on impacting people’s lives in emerging markets through entrepreneurship and technology has partnered with Inmarsat, the global leader in mobile satellite communications and AP-Swiss, the joint initiative of the European Space Agency and the Swiss Space Office to promote new satellite applications, with an aim of encouraging space technology startups in emerging markets.

“Our partnership was an excellent way to discover the lively startup ecosystems of emerging countries and to connect with talented people who have activities related to our industry,” explains José Achache, the Managing Director of AP-Swiss. “Through the Space Prize, we want to show that space is now open to everyone, including startups.”

Inmarsat’s Chief Technology Officer, Michele Franci said: “Space technologies can deliver huge benefits to startups, particularly those in remote communities, however raising awareness of the opportunities is the challenge. Seedstars World has helped to connect us with people who have previously disregarded satellite communications as a viable option for their business plans or ideas.”

The Seedstars Summit is also an opportunity to discuss the potential of the space industry. A panel event featuring Michele Franci, José Achache and some startups from emerging markets, discussing “Countdown to Launch: The internet of Everywhere” will be held on 3rd March 2016, providing insights into the possibilities for innovative applications of satellite technologies in the startup world.

“Today, over 4 billion people do not have access to the internet, which means 4 billion potential consumers, opportunities and connected citizens. In the next 4 years alone, nearly half a billion people will come online for the first time” explains Alisee de Tonnac, CEO of Seedstars World. This is where space technologies will be of enormous value and where the search for the startups has focused.

About Seedstars

"They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds." - Mexican proverb

Seedstars (seedstars.com) is a global organisation based in Switzerland with activities in more than 55 countries around the world. Its mission is to impact people's lives in emerging markets through entrepreneurship and technology. The company's goal is to develop and/or foster startup ecosystems by connecting, building and investing in driven entrepreneurs. Seedstars connects the best entrepreneurs with investors, corporates and media, and helps them to scale to new markets. They build companies by bringing together resources, talents and growth techniques, and eventually, invest in the most promising entrepreneurs. Sharing the values of trust, efficiency and diversity, Seedstars aims to support the whole entrepreneurial ecosystem from entrepreneurs to investors passing through governments and corporates.

About Inmarsat

Inmarsat plc is the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications service. Since 1979, Inmarsat has been providing reliable voice and high-speed data communications to governments, enterprises and other organizations, with a range of services that can be used on land, at sea of in the air. Inmarsat employs around 1,600 staff in more than 60 locations around the world, with a presence in the major ports and centres of commerce on every continent. Inmarsat is listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:ISAT.L). For more information, please visit inmarsat.com.

The Inmarsat press release newsfeed and corporate updates are on @InmarsatGlobal.

About AP-Swiss

AP-Swiss (ap-swiss.ch) supports companies to spin R&D activities into operational and profitable applications and services powered by satellites and satisfying concrete customer’s needs. Concretely, we help candidate companies obtain funding from ESA, the European Space Agency, for feasibility, pilot operations and demonstration activities, all the way to market validation. We act as an ‘honest broker’ between ESA and these stakeholders, which can be ‘spacetech’ companies, solution/service providers, or customers and users of such services.

AP-Swiss and ESA are interested in integrated applications and services that combine data from multiple Space systems such as telecommunication, Earth observation, and navigation satellites, as well as in direct applications of telecommunication satellites (artes-apps.esa.int).


Press Contacts

High-resolution photos, logos, as well as press information and interview options are available on demand. Feel free to contact us at:

Sandra Febvre                                                              Juliane Butty                                                                     

Event & Press Manager                                                 Event & Press Coordinator

sandra@seedstarsworld.com                                        juliane@seedstarsworld.com

+41 76 420 75 54                                                         +41 79 820 47 41


Stefan Buckenmaier                                                     Katie Potts

stefan.buckenmaier@ap-swiss.ch                                  Katie.potts@inmarsat.com                    

+41 79 365 8522                                                           +44 (0)20 7728 1492                                                            






Community reference: 
3 March 2016 - Space Prize competition finale, SwissTech Convention Center