Direct Negotiation - Generic Programme Line

  • ESA-STAR REFAO10494
  • ActivityFeasibility Study, Demonstration Project
  • Closing date 31-12-2025

ESA Business Applications' Call for proposals (Direct Negotiation) is always open. Businesses from any sector can apply throughout the year, and the amount of funding may vary according to the project. The goal of this activity is for the business to develop a new commercial service that utilises one or more space asset (such as Satellite Communications, Earth Observation, Satellite Navigation, Human Spaceflight technologies and other space assets). 

How to apply? 

The first step in order to apply is to tell us more about your idea and how you plan to implement it in the Activity Pitch Questionnaire (APQ) and upload it using the APQ Submission Form. We will provide you feedback and direct you to the relevant documentation to continue the application. 

For further questions you contact directly your regional Ambassador, or when not present, through our contact form

 

FEASIBILITY STUDIES 

Feasibility Studies provide the preparatory framework to identify, analyse and define new potentially sustainable applications and services within the ESA Business Applications programme. They shall comply with the following requirements: they are user/customer driven, they benefit from the integrated use of one or more space assets and the tenderer intends to pursue a demonstration project after successful completion of the feasibility study. 

The Feasibility Study is likely to run at least 6 months but shall not run longer than 9 months. The duration depends on the complexity of the activity and the degree of upfront buy-in by user communities and other partners. 

Assuming the Feasibility Study is successful, it is expected that it evolves into a Demonstration Project, the final target being the implementation of a commercial service. 

For more information on the financial support of the ESA Business Applications programme see Funding Scheme

DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS 

Demonstration Projects are dedicated to the implementation of pre-operational demonstration services within the ESA Business Applications programme, which therefore comply with the following requirements: they are user driven (including user involvement and contribution), they benefit from the integrated use of one or more space assets, with clear potential to become sustainable in the post project phase. A demonstration project is expected to have a pilot activity, where the service/product is trialled with the customer in a pre-operational environment. 

The Demonstration Project duration depends on the complexity of the activity and is typically between 12 and 24 months. Assuming the Demonstration Project is successful, after the completion of the contract with ESA it is expected to evolve into an operational service. For more information on the financial support of ESA's Business Applications programme see Funding Schemes

APPLICATION PROCESS - GUIDELINES  

Having registered on esa-star – ESA’s System for Tendering And Registration as potential bidder, login to esa star publication with your received account information and download the official tender documentation from: 

AO10494 CALL FOR PROPOSALS FOR DOWNSTREAM APPLICATIONS IN ARTES 4.0 

The tendering process follows a three-step approach, following an incremental set up to guide Tenderers through the submission process.  

It is constructed in a manner that any subsequent step (Outline Proposal OP, Full Proposal FP) builds upon the answers of the previous step (Activity Pitch Questionnaire APQ, Outline Proposal). 

TIMELINE 

The duration of the end-to-end process is different from activity to activity, and it depends on the time taken by the applicant team to prepare the OP and FP, as well as any necessary iterations. The following diagram aims to give an overview of the different steps and the expected response time from ESA. 

 

Timeline

 

1ST STEP: ACTIVITY PITCH QUESTIONNAIRE (APQ) 

Before engaging in more detailed elaboration of a potential outline or full proposal, the Activity Pitch Questionnaire allows the Tenderer in a reduced, standardised pitch form to present his initial idea to ESA, and it allows ESA to quickly take an informed decision on the next steps pointing the Tenderer to the most appropriate activity stream and providing support on the further implementation steps. 

The Activity Pitch Questionnaire can be downloaded from https://business.esa.int/documents and shall be uploaded using the APQ Submission Form

Since authorisation from the National Delegation(s) of the countries in which industrial partners (i.e. Prime and Subcontractors) reside will be required at the level of the Full Proposal, it is strongly suggested that potential bidders liaise with the National Delegation(s) as soon as possible in the process. 

Please, note that the Activity Pitch Questionnaire may be also provided by the Agency to the National Delegations for coordination purposes. Submitting an APQ is deemed given consent to share this information with the National Delegation. 

In case of Demonstration Projects originated from a Feasibility Study, the APQ step is not mandatory, whilst the Outline Proposal is. The Technical Officer of the Feasibility Study will provide a recommendation on the required steps. 

Note that the APQ has the validity of 1 year. In case of no submission of Outline proposal, the applicant will need to re-start the process with the submission of a new APQ. 

2nd STEP: OUTLINE PROPOSAL 

Following the acceptance by ESA of the Activity Pitch Questionnaire and the indications provided by ESA concerning which eventual route to choose from (i.e. Feasibility Study, Demonstration Project), the second step requires the submission of an Outline Proposal, which will be evaluated by ESA, and feedback will be provided to the Tenderer in due time. External experts may be involved in the evaluation in order to coordinate activities with those carried out within the European Union, Participating States or any other relevant European actors, of which the Agency has been made aware.  

Note that at Outline Proposal stage ESA prepares a special document for their Joint Communications Board (JCB) (Member States’ Steering Board), which meets every mid-February, mid-May, mid-September and mid-November. This document summarises the proposed study in about four pages, shows how it complies with the eligibility criteria for an IAP activity and requests the Board’s approval. 

Once the clarification / discussion points originating from the Outline Proposal evaluation have been sufficiently addressed and the associated project dossier prepared by the ESA Technical Officer passed above mentioned committees the proponent will be invited to submit  the Full Proposal.  

The Outline Proposal Template can be downloaded from https://business.esa.int/documents and shall be submitted to the assigned Technical Officer.  

An Outline Proposal approved by ESA must precede the submission of a Full Proposal.  

An approved Outline Proposal has the validity of 8 months, by when a Full Proposal should be submitted. In case of no submission of Full Proposal, the applicant will need to re-start the process with the submission of a new APQ.  

3rd STEP: FULL PROPOSAL 

The Tenderer will be informed by ESA and may decide to prepare a Full Proposal according to ESA feedback and in accordance with chapter II of Appendix 1 (Special Conditions of Tender). 

Only Full proposals accompanied with a “Letter(s) of Authorisation of Funding” (AOF) covering the full proposal will be admitted for evaluation. The Full proposals shall be delivered via “esa-star”. 

The Full Proposal will be evaluated by a Tender Evaluation Board (TEB). In case of a positive proposal evaluation the TEB recommends the contract implementation pending potential clarifications points  identified by the TEB. ESA will communicate the results of the TEB including an invitation for the negotiation meeting in case of a positive TEB outcome.  

Upon successful negotiation, the project kick-off will be agreed and the contract will be sent for signature. 

APPLICATIONS THROUGH SPECIFIC ANNOUNCEMENTS OR NEWS ITEMS 

Please be aware that, according to specific needs, specific Announcements of Opportunity can be associated to this Open Call for Proposals 10494, which are/will be presented under “News” on esa-star Publication.  

The application/tendering process described above may vary or change as far as applicability of the Activity Pitch Questionnaire (APQ) and/or adoption of specific templates for Outline Proposal is concerned. Details are provided in the relevant News Item.  

If you are not addressing any Announcement of Opportunity, what reported in the paragraphs above apply in full. 

FUNDING SCHEME 

Funded participation is open to any company and/or organisation, be it as group of users, public body or non-governmental organisation, residing in any of the ESA Member States that are participating to the programme as specified in the Letter of Invitation in esa-star. 

The applicable funding level of the individual prime- or subcontractors is subject to authorisation by the involved National Delegation(s). Therefore bidding teams are requested to obtain a Letter of Authorisation from all their national delegations before submitting a Full Proposal.  

The funding level is summarised in the Table below. 

 

Feasibility Study 

Demonstration Project 

Activity Cost 

max. 500’000 EUR  
(limited to acceptable cost) 

case by case assessment (limited to acceptable cost) 

ESA Co-Funding 

 

    Baseline 

max. 50% of company’s cost 

max. 50% of company’s cost 

    Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises [1] 

max. 80%[2] of enterprise’s cost 

max. 80%[2] of enterprise’s cost 

     Universities and Research Institutes with no commercial interest in product/service 

max. 100%[2] of institute’s cost 

and 

max. 30% of activity cost 

max. 80%[2] of institute’s cost 

and 

max. 30% of activity cost 

Industry Co-Funding 

Remaining part of the cost to carry out the activity 

 

[1]Enterprises fulfilling the criteria defined in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003 (2003/361/EC) or as updated. 

[2]Depending on the funding level authorised by the related National Delegation(s).