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  • ActivityKick-start Activity
  • Opening date10 July 2020
  • Closing date18 January 2021


A commodity is a basic good, raw material or primary agricultural product like wheat, copper or cattle. Commodities are often the fundamental ingredients for more complex goods and services. They can generally be divided into three categories: 

i. Agricultural Commodities, which include food crops, livestock and industrial crops (like lumber, rubber and wool). 

ii. Energy Commodities, which include petroleum products, natural gas, heating oil, coal, uranium (for nuclear energy), ethanol (as a gasoline additive) and electricity.

iii. Metal Commodities, which comprise precious metals (e.g. gold, silver, platinum and palladium) and base metals (e.g. aluminium, nickel, steel, iron ore, tin and zinc).

Commodities have been traded throughout history and are the building blocks of the global economy. 

The European Space Agency’s “Commodities” Kick-Start offers support and funding to companies developing services to help improve the sourcing, transportation, storing, and trading of commodities using satellite data and technologies.

The Commodities Kick-Start is split into three parts with three application deadlines. 

Part 1: Agricultural Commodities
Opens on 10 July 2020. Applications due by 11 September 2020.
Webinar takes place on Thursday 2 July @ 15:00 CEST 

Part 2: Metal Commodities
Opens on 14 September 2020. Applications due by 30 October 2020.
Webinar takes place on Thursday 10 September @ 15:00 CEST

Part 3: Energy Commodities
Opens on 03 November 2020. Applications due by 18 January 2021.
Webinar takes place on Tuesday 27 October @ 15:00 CET


The following topics were identified for the Commodities Kick-Start theme.

Agricultural Commodities. 
There are six categories of agricultural commodities: cereal grains; oilseeds like cotton and palm oil; meat, including live animals; dairy; soft commodities, like cocoa, coffee and sugar; and industrial crops, like rubber and wool. 

Relevant applications for agricultural commodities include: 

  • Helping farmers adjust their growing techniques through precise weather monitoring, predictive analytics, crop monitoring, and detection of pests.
  • Monitoring deforestation, tracking illegal deforestation, issuing deforestation alerts and protecting biodiversity.
  • Mapping farms and identifying natural and man-made risks.
  • Identifying the provenance of agricultural commodities. 
  • Protecting, tracking, and facilitating the delivery of agricultural commodities. 
  • Predicting yield and identifying crops to help commodity traders. 
  • Improving sustainability in fashion. 

Energy Commodities. 
Almost 90% of the energy consumed worldwide derives from five non-renewable sources: petroleum products (e.g. crude oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, etc.) hydrocarbon gas liquids (e.g. propane), natural gas, coal and nuclear energy. Most of the developed commodity trading markets are in non-renewable energy resources.

Relevant services for energy commodities include: 

  • Improving offshore and onshore activities to enable discovery of reserves and improvements in operations. 
  • Improving the transportation and storage of energy commodities.
  • Improving energy commodity trading intelligence.
  • Improving safety and disaster recovery. 

Metal Commodities. 
Precious and base metals are used in a whole range of industrial and commercial applications including construction and manufacturing.

Relevant services for metal commodities include: 

  • Helping mining companies discover ores and improving mining operations. 
  • Tackling environmental challenges of metal commodities.
  • Ensuring the safe, secure and legal transport of metals. 
  • Providing trading intelligence for the metals markets. 


Satellite Earth Observation (SatEO)
- SatEO data, combined with advances in AI and machine learning, could be used to provide insight into the agricultural, metal and energy commodities markets (e.g. by observing stockpiles, transportation of goods, activities along points of the supply chain, etc.). 

- SatEO can also be used to monitor impacts of extracting or growing commodities e.g. satellite imagery detecting deforestation, oil spills, contaminated groundwater. 

- It could map mines, farms and rigs to detect potential risks (e.g. natural hazards) and ensure sites aren’t affecting protected areas.

- Satellite imagery could help secure the supply chain by detecting infrastructure issues (e.g. pipeline damage) and illegal activities (e.g. new border crossings for illicit trade of metals). 

- SatEO data to help farmers forecast yield production; monitor crop development; detect pests and disease; and calculate the correct amount of fertiliser, water or pesticides to use.

- SatEO to help oil & gas and mining companies detect seismic lines, well locations and prospective sites to be mined; differentiate rock types; identify barren and productive areas; map preserved areas; and create 3D terrain models.

Satellite Navigation (SatNav)
- SatNav can be used to monitor the transportation of goods globally. This is especially useful when combined with sensorised shipping containers for track and trace monitoring. 

- SatNav can also be used to improve transport routes of commodities and for geo-tagging data e.g. from mining equipment, farming sensors, and oil and gas machinery.

- SatNav can help guide autonomous vehicles and machinery used at mining and oil and gas sites, as well as on farms.

Satellite Communications (SatCom)
- SatCom provides broadband internet, voice-over IP, video and reliable communications to harsh offshore environments, remote mines, and disaster-struck regions. 

- It can be used as a primary communication means or as back-up to terrestrial networks, enhancing robustness and resilience. 


Kick-Start activities elaborate the business opportunity and the technical viability of new applications and services that exploit one or more space assets (e.g. Satellite Communications, Satellite Navigation, Earth Observation, Human Space Flight Technology). This call for Kick-Start activities is dedicated to the theme ‘Commodities’, which means that the call is open to companies that intend to develop space-enabled applications and services relating to commodities.


1. Register by completing the online questionnaire on ESA-STAR Registration (this provides for the minimum ‘light registration’)

2. Download the official tender documentation (Invitation to Tender) and create a ‘Bidder Restricted Area’ via EMITS from 10 July 2020

3. Write your proposal and obtain a Letter of Support from your National Delegation, if needed (see Authorisation of Funding section below).

4. Submit your proposal via ESA-STAR Tendering by the deadline.


The deadline for Part 1 – Agricultural Commodities – is 11 September 2020 at 13:00 CEST (12:00 BST)

The deadline for Part 2 – Metal Commodities – is 30 October 2020 at 13:00 CET (12:00 GMT)

The deadline for Part 3 - Energy Commodities – is 18 January 2021 at 13:00 CET (12:00 GMT)


ESA Space Solutions can provide funding to perform Kick-Start activities to any company (economic operator) residing in the following Member States: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Sweden.

Please note that, currently, Austria, the United Kingdom and Switzerland are not supporting Kick-Start activities.

Applicants must inform the National Delegation of the country they are residing in to obtain a letter of authorisation allowing the funding of the proposed activity. Contact details of each national delegate can be found here.

Currently, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway and Ireland have pre-approved funding for this Kick-start activity. Applicants based in these countries do not need to contact their National Delegation for a letter of authorisation

Kick-Start activities are funded at: 

  • 80% by the European Space Agency for a maximum of €64K per contract for SMEs* 
  • 75% by the European Space Agency for a maximum of €60K per contract for non-SMEs
    *SMEs, or ‘Small and Medium enterprises’, are defined here: EU recommendation 2003/361.


  • Agricultural Commodities: 02/07/2020, 15:00 CEST (14:00 BST)

  • Metal Commodities: 10/09/2020, 15:00 CEST (14:00 BST)

  • Energy Commodities: 27/10/2020, 15:00 CET (14:00 BST)