ESA title

ESA & 5Groningen Opportunity

  • Activity Feasibility Study
  • Opening date 18-09-2018
  • Closing date 31-12-2021

Space has an invaluable role to play in the 5G ecosystem. Telecommunication satellites can extend, enhance, and provide reliability and security to 5G, helping to deliver its promise of global, ubiquitous connectivity. Other space assets, such as Earth Observation and Satellite Navigation can be integrated with 5G technology to deliver innovative applications in a number of vertical sectors. The European Space Agency (ESA) has joined forces with the Economic Board Groningen (EBG) to support the development of applications that integrate space and 5G. Find out more about this unique opportunity below.


ESA & 5Groningen Funding Opportunity

Groningen, the Netherlands, is being transformed into the ultimate 5G testing ground. Managed by the EBG, entrepreneurs, non-profit organisations, and experts are being invited to test 5G applications in a dedicated initiative called 5Groningen. The 5G fieldlab is founded by some renowned telecom operators (KPN, Vodafone) and manufacturers (Ericsson, Huawei), together with research institutes like TNO and the Groningen university.

ESA Business Applications (BA) has partnered with 5Groningen to fund selected activities pursuing innovative space-based applications developments leveraging on the deployment of 5G networks. Organisations from member states (listed below) are invited to submit proposals for services that use 5G and satellite technologies. Chosen ideas will then be welcome to test their concept using 5Groningen field-lab and test areas in the Groningen region to pilot their idea and to receive funding from ESA. 



Ideas must use satellite or space-based data as well as 5G technology.

Satellite Communication: 
Today’s satcom systems can offer everything from high-speed, high-volume packages, to low data solutions required by Machine-To-Machine communications and the Internet of Things. Satcoms can fill coverage gaps in 5G terrestrial deployment or deliver an intermediate solution before terrestrial infrastructure is put in place. They can be rapidly deployed anywhere on Earth, providing immediate relief and support to 5G networks wherever and whenever required, including ad-hoc connectivity during large public events.

Earth Observation
Earth Observation (EO) satellites can monitor the environment, weather and climate of the Earth. EO data can map terrain, produce detailed imagery, and detect minute changes to vegetation, structures and the atmosphere.

Satellite Navigation: 
Satellite Navigation enables positioning and guidance to support trace, tracking and improved logistics, route optimization, and geo-tagging of in-situ data.


Space-enabled 5G can offer a multitude of benefits for numerous sectors. Here are areas that can be addressed: 

Doctors making long-distance diagnoses can benefit from reliable communications via satellite and the ability to receive patient images in real time via 5G connection.

Satellite data complemented by in-situ measurements can help to monitor quality of the environment, manage the landscape and water levels, and improve resilience to disasters. 

5G mobile connectivity and satellite coverage will improve data distribution to connected devices in the maritime, road, rail and aviation sectors. Vehicle-to-infrastructure communication requires uninterrupted coverage and redundancy, which can be supplied more economically with the help of satellites.

5G and space-based technologies will help unleash the next wave of smart grid features. Devices can be integrated into the grid through low cost connections and accurately monitored to support better forecasting of energy needs.


We offer funding and support to companies for the development of new, space-enabled 5G products and services.


  • Zero-equity funding 
  • The opportunity, from 2018 to 2020, to test and pilot your concept in Groningen’s unique 5G test ground for the latest generation of mobile internet
  • The chance to use 5Groningen labs
  • A personal ESA consultant
  • Technical & Commercial guidance
  • Access to ESA’s and the EBG’s network of partners
  • Credibility of the ESA Brand



Feasibility studies identify, analyse and define whether a prospective service could be sustainable. In this case, we are looking for feasibility studies that investigate the technical viability and business potential of services that use both 5G and satellite/space-based data. Studies will include a proof of concept (PoC) in the Groningen region (the Netherlands), and must be user driven. Once the feasibility study is successfully completed there is the opportunity to follow-up with a demonstration project. Nevertheless, the study could also lead to direct commercialization of the developed services. 

Applicants can respond to this opportunity in two ways:

i) Proposals addressing Element I “User Specific” – Several stakeholders in the 5Groningen region have defined use cases. Applicants can submit proposals that aim to tackle those use cases, addressing the problems and needs expressed by the stakeholders.

Four use cases have been published so far: two addressing maritime navigation and two addressing building ventilation: See documentation here

ii) Proposals addressing Element II “Generic” – Applicants are welcome to submit their own proposals for space-enabled 5G applications. These can assess the technical and commercial feasibility of services in the healthcare, energy, transport, and the environment


There are two steps involved in applying for this opportunity:

1. Outline Proposal - The first step requires the submission of an Outline Proposal, addressing either ‘Element I’ or ‘Element II’. This will be evaluated and feedback will be provided to you. The Outline Proposal Template can be downloaded from the table below and shall be submitted to the following email address:

Element I- Following the positive evaluation of the Outline Proposal, you will be invited to discuss your ideas with the team of the Pilot Project (PP) initiated by 5Groningen. You will then receive a letter of endorsement by the 5Groningen PP team to be included in your Full Proposal.

Element II - Following the positive evaluation of the Outline Proposal, the Tenderer will be invited to submit the Full Proposal.

2. Full Proposal

Once you receive feedback from ESA, you will be invited to prepare a Full Proposal.  Full Proposals must come with a “Letter of Authorisation of Funding” (AOF) from your national delegation. The Full Proposal should be submitted via esa-star and should define the Proof of Concept in the Groningen region. 


All applications will require a letter of approval from their national delegation. You are encouraged to contact your National Delegation as soon as possible to make sure your proposal is financially supported.



SET OF TEMPLATES FOR IAP Open Call for Proposals AO-9569:
Applications integrating space asset(s) and 5G networks in the

Groningen region Announcement 


IAP_5Groningen_Feasibility Studies-Full Proposal_Template

  IAP_5Groningen_Feasibility Studies-Outline Proposal_Template
  IAP_5Groningen_Feasibility Studies-Full Proposal Cover Letter_Template
  IAP_5Groningen_Feasibility Studies-Management_Requirements



This call is for Feasibility Studies only.

Feasibility studies for this call are 50% funded by ESA. Universities and research institutions are eligible for 100% ESA funding. Small and medium-sized enterprises with the agreement of national delegations can receive up to 75% funding.

This opportunity is open to any public organisation, commercial client worldwide or space company (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.