ESA title

Direct Negotiation - Kick-Starts

  • Activity Kick-start Activity

Please note that for 2024 the following deadlines for submissions apply:

  • Friday 2nd Feb 2024 at 13:00 CET

  • Friday 5th April 2024 at 13:00 CEST

  • Friday 7th June 2024 at 13:00 CEST​

ESA’s OPEN CALL FOR PROPOSALS FOR KICK-STARTS (BASS ARTES 4.0) is always open. This means that businesses from any sector can apply for Kick-Starts throughout the year.

About Kick-Starts

A Kick-Start is a feasibility study lasting six months. The aim of a Kick-Start is to determine whether a service is technically feasible, commercially viable and wanted by users. During a Kick-Start, teams will design the technical service architecture, engage with potential customers, improve the business plan, and establish next steps in developing the service. Kick-Starts must involve the use of at least one space asset, such as satellite communications, satellite Earth observation, and satellite navigation.

A Kick-Start consists of three tasks:

  • WP1000: Customer/User Engagement – The team running a Kick-Start will connect with users and potential customers to understand what they need from the service, to collect requirements, and to receive feedback about the proposed service. Teams should try to strengthen relationships with clients and establish a customer pipeline. Service requirements are the output of WP1000.
  • WP2000: Technical Feasibility – The Kick-Start team will use the user requirements to design the technical service architecture. This should include all system components, interfaces, processes, inputs, outputs, and data involved in the service. Teams can develop a mock-up, prototype, or proof of concept, but this is not compulsory. The service and system architecture definition are the output of WP2000.
  • WP3000: Economic Viability – The Kick-Start team will do a market analysis, competitive analysis, risk analysis, and financial analysis in order to establish the economic viability of the service. Teams should develop and build upon their business plans while carrying out user engagement and technical feasibility activities. The output of WP3000 is a comprehensive business plan.

The Kick-Start tasks and outputs are summarised in the diagram below. The three tasks are carried out in parallel over six months and three meetings with ESA are planned during this time:

  • Kick-Off meeting (KO)
  • Mid-Term Review meeting (MTR)
  • Final Review meeting (FRM)

How To Apply

You can apply for ESA’s Open Call for Proposals for Kick-Starts at any time during the year. To apply, follow these steps:

Step One: Register your Company.

To start, you must register your company on ESA’s Registration system ‘esa-star Registration’. Here, you will be asked to provide some initial details about your team.

Step Two: Download the Tender Documents

Once you have registered your company, log into esa-star and download the official tender documents. The tender documents include:

  1. A Cover Letter and Detailed Proposal Template
  2. Management Requirements
  3. A Letter of Invitation
  4. A Draft Contract
  5. Tendering Conditions

Step Three: Write your Kick-Start Proposal

Use the ‘Cover Letter and Detailed Proposal Template’ document to write your Kick-Start Proposal. Do this in parallel with Step Four.

Step Four: Contact your National Delegation

Email your National Delegation to inform them that you are applying for a Kick-Start and to request a Letter of Authorisation, unless otherwise instructed below. 

Bidders from the United Kingdom should refer to this guidance.

Bidders from Denmark should refer to this guidance.

Contact Details of the National Delegations can be found here.

Step Five: Submit your application Once you have written your proposal and included the Letter of Authorisation in your cover letter, you are ready to submit your application! Submit your documents through esa-star Tendering

The evaluation of all applications will be performed by ESA within one month of the deadlines.

Funding For Kick-Starts

Funding for Kick-Starts can be provided to teams based in the following participating Member States:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Please note that Canada, Greece, Latvia, Slovakia, and Spain are not supporting any Kick-Start activities at present.

Kick-Start activities will be funded at 75%, with ESA providing up to 60,000 euros per contract.