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Winners of the ESA/EIT Space For Rail Competition

Patrick McLoughlin, UK Secretary of State for Transport, has announced, during a speech at RailLive 2014, the largest outdoor rail event in the UK, that two prizes of €50,000 have been awarded in the Space for Rail competition. Launched in October 2013, the competition was initiated and co-funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the UK rail industry’s Enabling Innovation Team (EIT) with support of the Satellite Applications Catapult and the  UK Technology Strategy Board. Prizes will be used to fund two feasibility studies as part of ESA’s Integrated Applications Promotion (IAP) programme.

The rail industry faces a challenge to be able to technically deliver a railway with more capacity and customer satisfaction but for less cost and carbon. To support this, the FutureRailway team is working with a range of partners to help de-risk business solutions and technologies by helping move them from research through prototype to demonstration and eventual implementation.

The Space for Rail prize competition sought outline proposals to develop services for the UK rail industry involving two or more satellite-based systems, such as communications, navigation and/or remote sensing, which would be integrated with conventional non-space systems. The aim is to develop solutions that either meet rail industry current challenges and needs which cannot otherwise be fulfilled, or improve upon existing solutions.

The two winners are:

1. University of Birmingham (UK) with Avanti Communications Ltd (UK) – Identification of Physical Railway Line Blockages in Support of Inspection and Recovery Operations

The proposed activity concerns the development of a service concept that provides cost effective, 24/7 identification of physical line blockages due to poor weather conditions. The study seeks to address two main challenges: a) Reliable use of satellite navigation signals and earth located antennae to detect  objects or infrastructure failures serious enough to block a railway line. b) Providing reliable communications and accompanying processes to enable robust decision making and effective targeting of resources for necessary response actions when line blockages are detected.

 2. VTOL Technologies Ltd. (UK) – Railway Inspection Supported by Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)

The proposed integrated solution targets an RPAS aerial inspection capability specifically designed to meet the requirements of the UK rail industry, with inspection operations and inspection routes approved by the UK Civil Aviation Authority. In support of this, the study will investigate whether the deployment of RPAS within the UK rail industry is technically feasible and could deliver substantial cost and process benefits for railway inspection and maintenance operations.

Following coordination between FutureRailway, the UK Technology Strategy Board and ESA’s IAP programme, the two winners of the UK Space for Rail Prize have been invited to submit full proposals for  feasibility studies to ESA. The activities, co-funded by ESA and FutureRailway, are anticipated to commence towards the end of 2014. Upon successful completion, the winners could use this as a stepping stone to the initiation of a larger-scale demonstration project.

The Space for Rail competition complements a portfolio of on-going activities by the ESA IAP programme in the rail sector. For more information, see:



Community reference: 
Competition: Two prizes awarded for developing satellite-based solutions for UK rail

ESA Investment Forum 2014

Each year ESA provides an opportunity for companies to pitch before an audience of potential investors (mostly Business Angels and Venture Capitalists).

This free Investment Readiness Programme (IRP) includes training in investment readiness and pitching. This year the opportunity is explicitly extended to companies participating in co-funded ARTES Applications activities.

More details, including the process for registering and applying to pitch at the Forum are here:

Please note the deadline of Monday 26th May 2014 for applying to make a pitch. (We hope to extend this deadline for our co-funded partner companies in the ARTES Applications programme, but please apply by the deadline if possible, or let us know if you want to apply but need more time.)

Whether or not you apply to make a pitch, you may still attend the Forum. And in any event we recommend that you take part in the Investment Readiness Webinar on 3rd June (see attachment below).

There is also an Investment Readiness coaching session in Rome on 5th/6th June, at which some places are still available:

You do not have to attend a training session in order to apply to make a pitch at the Forum.

If selected to pitch at the Forum, the following is also available:

  • A "Venture Academy"coaching session in Tolouse on 1st July; and
  • The opportunity to apply for a one-to-one meeting with an investor.

Information about the Venture Academy on 1st July 2014 is here:

Company invitation for Webinar

Although the programme is free to attend, companies will have to pay for any travel and accommodation.

We hope that you find this opportunity useful and welcome your feedback.

In Partnership with

Hosted by



Supported by

Community reference: 
Forum: 1-2 July 2014, Toulouse (France)

Opportunities with ESA for the Finnish telecommunication industry

A half-day ARTES workshop was organised in Espoo, Finland on May 8th . The event focused on ARTES 3-4 and 5 programmes and was the first of its kind in Finland, bringing the Finnish telecommunication community together in order to explore and discuss the potentials for doing business with ESA. The main industry from this field was present, and the networking was lively and fruitful.

The workshop was hosted by VTT and co-organised from the Ambassador Platform Finland and Tekes (national delegation). Close to 30 delegates attended the workshop, of which 4 came from ESA. The participants came from the industry; only VTT represented the research community.

After the opening speech, ESA delegates gave 5 presentations on Satcom Market, Partnership Opportunities, ARTES Products and Applications and Newcomers Initiative. These were followed by two presentations about the experience of working with ESA.

The workshop was followed by one-to-one meetings in the afternoon. The meetings were organised in two parallel sessions between ESA delegates and Finnish industry. All 9 companies signed up for the meetings and most of them for both sessions. The company feedback regarded these one-to-one meetings as top priority.

The event initiated various user ideas and project proposals. These will be followed-up by further discussions. The ARTES 3-4 SATCOM-APPS Newcomers Initiative will also be given extra attention and promotion to attract newcomers from Finnish SMEs.


The presentations from the workshop are available for download at: Dropbox (zipped file, 16.85 MB).

Community reference: 
Workshop report

Norwegian Space opportunities within the ARTES Applications programme

The Seminar started with a welcome presentation from the hosts MARINTEK about the activities and organizations in MARINTEK, with the planning of the setting up of a new Ocean Space Centre in Norway, at MARINTEK.

Following the opening, the representatives from ESA (Tony Sephton and Jan Dettmann) gave an introduction about ESA, especially the ARTES applications programme. This presentation is particularly relevant to the audiences who already have or plan to have some ideas that could potentially connect with the ARTES applications programme. They also described in detail how ARTES works and its related activities as well as the programme structure. The importance of the network of Ambassador Platforms (APs) , particularly the one in Norway, was also highlighted.

Odd Gangaas from the Norwegian Space Centre (NSC) also provided a presentation where many times the role of APNorway as the gateway between ESA and Norwegian Space development programmes was emphasized. He also strongly highlighted the role and activities of APNorway and hoped to create more collaborations and joint projects with ESA in the near future as the essential enabler for society to safely move towards operations in the Arctic.

The presentation of Kay Fjørtoft, the ambassador of APNorway, repeated again the huge opening opportunities for all the participants to have ideas developed with ESA and APNorway’s support. Kay also reflected on the possibilities for the ARTES applications programme to investigate the opportunities and challenges of moving to the high North areas where space technologies are key enablers.

The seminar continued with the five presentations representative for the selected on-going projects and topics particularly related to the Space opportunities within the IAP programme: "Autonomous operation and communication demands" presented by the Research Director of Maritime Transport System Department, MARINTEK; "MARENOR – Communication challenges and measurements" presented by Hans Christian Juul of EMGS; "SARINOR – Search and Rescue in the High North" presented by Erik Dyrkoren, the Maritim21 program leader; "ArcticSAT – Optimizing situational awareness in the Arctic through integrated space technologies" presented by Fritz Bekkadal of MARINTEK; and a presentation from CiRiS – the centre for interdisciplinary research in space, of NTNU. These presentations provided a very fruitful and updated contents and activities in regards to space based research and applications in defining the gaps and identifying solutions for communications in the Arctic.

After lunch, a Panel discussion ensued which included representatives from MARINTEK, ESA, NSC, Kongsberg Seatex, and Astrium/MARLINK.

In front of the Panel, there were three short presentations all closely related to Maritime communications, gaps and challenges. They are listed as: Maritime communication aspects (Kongsberg Seatex), Maritime navigation aspects (E-Nav) (NCA-Norwegian Coastal Administration), and Maritime observation aspects (by Kongsberg KSAT).

Following each brief presentation, many questions were raised to the Panel It is still always open and welcome for participants to contact ESA and APNorway in order to raise any further requests or remarks. Almost all of the questions addressed how to enhance and strengthen the Maritime communications by using space based technologies, and many interesting discussions were stimulated with strong remarks and opinions from the Panel.

Before ending this one-day seminar, an opportunity was provided for individual talks with ESA and NSC.

All the discussions and ideas will be further considered. The purpose is to build up potential proposals within the scope of work of ESA, especially the ARTES applications programme through APNorway. Some participants who did not have the chance to directly discuss with us are welcome to contact ESA and APNorway. We are always ready to discuss your ideas in order to create a potential proposal.


Norwegian Space opportunities within the ARTES Applications programme
Where Trondheim MARINTEK, Otto Nielsensvei 10
When 27st of May 09:30 - 16:00
Registration 16th of May Free of charge
Send to  
9:30 Welcome MARINTEK
9:40 ESA’s ARTES Applications Programme ESA Representative
10:00 The Norwegian Space Centre NSC - Odd Gangås
10:15 The AP Norway Role APNorway - Kay Fjørtoft
10:30 Coffee Break  
Project presentations
10:45 Autonomous operations and communication demands MARINTEK - Ørnulf Rødseth
11:15 MARENOR - Communication challenges and measurements EMGS – Hans Christian Juul
11:30 SARiNOR - Search and Rescue in the High North Maritime21 – Erik Dyrkoren
11:45 ArcticSAT - Optimising situational awareness in the Arctic through integrated space technologies MARINTEK - Fritz Bekkadal
12:00 CIRiS – Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Space NTNU - Atle Heskestad
12:15 Lunch  
Workshop + Panel discussion - Presentations
Panel Ørnulf Rødseth (MARINTEK), ESA - Representative, Rune Sandbakken (NSC), Stig Erik Kristiansen (Kongsberg), Tor Morten Olsen (MARLINK)
Moderator Odd Gangås, Kay Fjørtoft
5 + 15 min Maritime communication aspects Introduction by SINTEF
5 + 15 min Maritime navigation aspects Introduction by NCA
5 + 15 min Maritime observation aspects Introduction by Kongsberg KSAT
5 + 15 min Maritime arctic challenges Introduction by MARINTEK
5 + 15 min Maritime needs within the O&G Introduction by Norsk Olje og Gass
15:00 - 15:30 Workshop summary Odd Gangås, Kay Fjørtoft
15:30 - 16:30 Individual talks ESA, NSC, APNorway
Community reference: 
Seminar: Presentations available for download

SpaceForMed: Opportunities to identify space-based services in Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries

SpaceForMed is a joint undertaking between ESA and the European Investment Bank (EIB). Its objective is to support economic growth in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean regions by exploring the possibilities offered by space-based services in key economic sectors.

As part of the activities to be performed, ESA and EIB are pleased to announce the launch of two open competitive tenders to explore possible services in the areas of transport and Logistics as well as water management. These opportunities are announced in EMITS since 14/04/2014 and they will be opened for a period of eight (8) weeks.

The tenders are open to all ESA Member States, EU Member States and target countries of EIB’s FEMIP Trust Fund (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Gaza / West Bank, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon), and the SoW will be made available on an exceptional basis through the following links, upon registration:

Identification of Opportunities to Develop Space-based Services for Transport and Logistics in FEMIP Countries
Identification of Opportunities to Develop Space-based Services for Water Management in FEMIP Countries

Please be aware that the rest of the tender documentation as well as any questions on the tender will be made public only though EMITS.

Community reference: 
Invitations To Tender - Closing Date: 10 June 2014

LeCross Awareness Webinar

Satellite Services for Level Crossing Safety

ESA, CGI and VTT would like to invite you to an Awareness Webinar on 21 May 2014, 13:30-15:30 CET detailing the findings of the LeCross Study. The event will be of interest to railway infrastructure managers, innovation groups and safety authorities who are concerned with safety challenges at level crossings.

The LeCross Study aimed to identify and develop new operational systems to improve the safety at railway level crossings using space based capabilities. Level crossing safety remains one of the highest priority areas of improvement targeted by railway operators and authorities. A particular difficulty lies in providing cost-effective solutions in remote, low density traffic sections of the network, which often contain large numbers of crossings. This study has resulted in the innovative SAT-LX system, a satellite-based advisory warning system designed to improve safety at remote or rural level crossings with no active protection. The consortium is aiming to get feedback on this system and assess interest on potential collaborations for a pilot service in 2015.

To obtain further information please contact:
Omar Iqbal -

Registration Information:

Joining Instructions:
The event may be accessed via the URL and audio conference details below

Webinar URL:
Meeting ID: R8HKH5

Audio Conference:
UK: +44 207 062 1400
Overseas: Find your local number at
Access Code: 57887577#


LeCross is a European Space Agency funded project under the ARTES-20 Integrated Applications Promotion programme.

Community reference: 
Webinar: 21 May 2014

Industry Space Days 2014 - Registration now open

The 5th edition of the ESA initiative in favour of SMEs will take place in ESTEC (3rd & 4th June 2014). Organised by ESA SME Office, this event is a unique opportunity to meet new suppliers and qualified contractors.

The European Space Agency offers the medium and small business as well as other companies active in space development, production and research, the possibility of finding new business opportunities.

Organised on a bi-annual basis starting from 2014, the Industry Space Days represents a series of 20-minute pre-scheduled B2B meetings aimed to facilitate the encounter between contractors and suppliers concerned by space technology, products and services in and for Europe.

The registration forms and all practical information are available on the following link: Industry Space Days 2014

Community reference: 
Conference: 3 - 4 June 2014, ESTEC (Noordwijk, Netherlands)