During the first three days of October, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) team of Business Applications and Space Solutions (ESA BASS) had their first joint meeting, in Coimbra, Portugal, gathering its network of partners. This event was also the perfect opportunity to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Portuguese Space Solutions Centre.
Inaugurated in late 2014, Instituto Pedro Nunes (IPN) was the first European Space Solutions Centre to host within the same entity and team the three ESA elements promoting downstream businesses: ESA Business Incubation Centre, ESA Technology Transfer Brokers, and ESA Business Applications Ambassadors. The aim was to foster synergies between programmes and initiatives, and IPN has been a case study of how these tools can better foster national economies by the use of space technologies and satellite data.
In the past years, the results of combined efforts have been positive:
- 30 incubated companies which allowed the creation of approximately 100 new jobs, with a total turnover of around 5 million euros and an export capacity of over 75%.
- More than 30 space technologies identified with potential to be commercialized in non-space markets.
- 16 ESA Business Applications small feasibility projects directly supported to create new products and services in terrestrial markets with an investment of 2.5 million euros.
“The entrepreneurship new space ecosystem is there, alive and kicking”, said Carlos Cerqueira, Head of the ESA Space Solutions Portugal, and “ESA Space Solutions Portugal was the spark that boosted it and made it a truly vibrant community”.
During three days, representatives of 20 ESA Member States, from ESA BIC managers, Technology Transfer Brokers and Ambassadors, as well as ESA staff gathered in the Portuguese student’s city of Coimbra to discuss the future of the network, share experiences, learn with each other as well as to identify the key success factors to foster downstream businesses, and align future join efforts.
In the words of Frank Salzgeber, Head of Innovation and Ventures Office at ESA: “The power in Europe is that we work together. We have different nationalities, different ideas and different skills in our network, and by working together we know are more powerful.”
The programme included plenary sessions to the overall network; ideas exchange; hands-on collaborative workshops to discuss the future challenges of the network; sessions on ESA patent portfolio and available funding tools, optional programmes that could be of benefit for the Member States economic development; and parallel sessions to each profile expert (ESA BICs, Brokers and Ambassadors). Ultimately, all agreed that the newly joint teams have the power to promote key activities in 20 ESA Member States fostering innovation, entrepreneurship and new scalable downstream businesses.
“In this room you could find the key experts from almost all Member States to support your business, within the plethora of ESA funding opportunities” said Nick Appleyard, the Head of ESA Downstream Business Applications.
Beyond the joint meeting the event also brought industry and space tech providers / brokers together to discuss and match the needs presented by companies such as Ansell Portugal, Eletrolux, Martifer Renováveis, The Navigator Company, Prio Energy, Sellafiel, Sonae Inovação, Valeo and the Portuguese Centro Region Intermunicipal Community. This session provided the network more than 45 potential space to non-space tech transfer opportunities.
IPN also celebrated its own achievements and milestones of the past 5. New incubates were presented to the network, as well as national projects funded through the Small Business Applications Portuguese call and also success cases of technology developments from space down to Earth. The celebration was completed with an ESA BIC Portugal alumni graduation ceremony.
Overwhelmingly the feeling of the event was the importance of the joint efforts and complementary skills that will help to solve the network challenges in the near future.
Author: ESA Space Solutions Centre Portugal