ESA title

Smart and Uncrewed Shipping

  • Activity Demonstration Project
  • Opening date 17-03-2021
  • Closing date 15-09-2021

There will be two deadlines at which point proposals will be assessed and feedback provided:

1st Intake: 15 June 2021
2nd Intake: 15 September 2021

In the upcoming Announcement of Opportunity economic operators are invited to propose a Demonstration Project addressing the theme of:

Space for Smart and Uncrewed Shipping:
downstream services enabled by 5G and advanced positioning, navigation and timing (PNT)


The projects under this Call for Proposals shall address the Smart and Uncrewed shipping domain with innovative user-driven solutions relying on advanced technologies such as 5G and PNT (Positioning, Navigation and Timing) to the benefit of the involved user communities. 

The current Call for Proposals is originated from the agreements established by ESA and several stakeholders, which can be grouped in the following categories:

* Industrial associations and alliances;

* Government agencies;

* EU Agencies;

* Maritime Authorities;

* Port Authorities.

These stakeholders, with their own perspective and mandates (detailed in the tender documentation), are interested in:

  • Supporting the emergence of commercially sustainable space-based services in the smart and uncrewedshipping domain. 
  • Advancing the safe integration of uncrewed maritime vessels in general maritime traffic.


The projects shall focus on the design, development and demonstration of the downstream services and of the related space technologies and products, addressing the involved stakeholders’ priorities in the maritime sector.

In order to address the stakeholder and user needs, the proposed services shall rely on innovative space technologies and data including at least one of: 

  1. Hybrid Space and 5G terrestrial communication networks 
  2. Advanced PNT technologies 

Projects may (though are not mandated to) include the following product/technology developments (however, proposals that include exclusively product and technology developments without service demonstration are not eligible to be addressed under this call): 

  • Any 5G-SatCom (satellite communications) ground segment technology and product developments (e.g. modem, user terminals, gateways, network management and control solutions, antennas) required for the delivery of the proposed service. Particular focus is on the fusion of satellite and terrestrial telecommunications solutions showcasing converged Space-5G networks. 
  • Development of novel PNT technologies and products as necessary to delivery of the proposed service. 

The call for proposal’s objectives are: 

* Promote the development of sustainable downstream applications in the domain of smart shipping and/or uncrewed shipping.

* Foster the utilization of innovative technologies such as 5G communications and advanced PNT (Positioning, Navigation, Timing).

* Development of the required technologies and products to enable the convergence of terrestrial and space based 5G networks.

* Development of the required technologies and products to enable advanced PNT techniques in support of uncrewed and smart shipping navigation. 

* Advance the safe integration of uncrewed maritime vessels in maritime traffic. 

* Provide pre-operational demonstrations to the prospective users and customers of the proposed applications show-casing the benefits deriving from the utilization of space. 

* Promote the international dimension of the proposed services.


The following scenarios have been identified as key focus areas:

  • Secure autonomous vessels operations and/or remote piloting
  • Digitalization at sea and ports 
  • Predictive maintenance and support to remote operations at sea
  • Reduction of emissions and environmental impact 
  • Maritime safety 
  • Efficient intermodal transport 
  • Monitoring of threatened coastal areas
  • Maritime surveillance and detection of illegal actions at sea


A number of examples of how space can support innovation in this domain are listed below:

5G/Satellite Telecommunications

  • Provide connectivity to vessels out of range of terrestrial connectivity means.
  • Act as a back-up to terrestrial communications.

Advanced PNT technologies

  • Provide positioning, navigation and tracking capabilities to vessels, cargo and relevant machinery utilised at ports.

Satellite Earth observation

  • Detecting and monitoring environmental impact such as coastal erosion, effects of dredging, water quality and pollutant output.…
  • Surveys of protected areas to ensure the safety of marine animal populations (with respect to shipping operations).
  • Mapping, radar and bathymetry data to support navigation, and as input to shipping simulation models.…


We offer funding and support to companies, both for business case assessment and for the development of new, space-based services related to intelligent transport. Our offer includes:

  • Technical & commercial guidance;
  • Access to our network and partners;
  • Use of the ESA brand for your service.
  • Zero-equity funding as summarized in the table presented below:


Demonstration Project 50%**

** ESA will bear up to 50% of the project cost, and the remainder has to be financed by the tenderer and/or other partners direct or indirect co-financing. 

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises activities can be funded up to 80 % by the Agency, depending on the funding level authorised by the related National Delegation(s).

For activities related to new technology/product development different funding levels may apply.

Work carried out by universities and research institutes involved as contractors or subcontractors and justifying no further commercial interest in the product may be up to 80% funded by the Agency (for Demonstration Projects), depending on the funding level authorised by the related National Delegation(s). The funding of Universities or Research Institutes shall not exceed 30% of the total allowable cost. 


We are looking for teams that have identified an attractive sustainable opportunity with real potential for engaging customers. Motivation, business experience and domain expertise are all important features. We want to hear about your sustainable ideas that involve space technology/data. 

For this call, companies residing in the following  Member States are eligible to apply (depending on the scope of the proposal):

Member (and Cooperating) States Bass GPL 5G SPL NAVISP Element 2
Austria (AT) X X X
Belgium (BE) X   X
Canada (CA)   X X
Switzerland (CH) X X X
Czech Republic (CZ) X X X
Germany (DE) X X X
Denmark (DK) X X X
Estonia (EE) X    
Spain (ES) X X  
Finland (FI) X X X

France (FR)

X   X
United Kingdom (GB) X X X
Greece (GR)   X  
Hungary (HU) X X X
Ireland (IE) X   X
Italy (IT) X X X
Luxembourg (LU) X X  
The Netherlands (NL) X   X
Norway (NO) X X X

Poland (PL)

X   X
Portugal (PT) X X X
Romania (RO) X X X
Sweden (SE) X X X


See also the information below on obtaining letters of support from National Delegations. The service provider shall be part of the bidding team to ensure the commercial operational roll-out of the proposed service following completion of the project. 

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

Contact information can be found under:


  1. Register your team on esa-star today! If your team is made up of more than one company or organisation, each member will need to register. 
  2. Visit esa-star publications and search for this opportunity to download the official tender documentation. official documents will include proposal templates, a draft contract, and additional information about this opportunity.
  3. Create a ‘Bidder Restricted Area’ via esa-star
  4. Use the official documents to prepare your proposal 
  5. Reach out to your National Delegate to inform them that you are applying for this opportunity and to request a Letter of Authorisation.
  6. Submit your proposal via esa-star before the appropriate deadline.


  • Smart and Uncrewed Shipping - General event - 03 February 2021, 11:00 CET (this webinar has taken place)
  • Smart and Uncrewed Shipping - UK event - 17 March 2021, 11:00 CET (this webinar has taken place)
  • Smart and Uncrewed Shipping - Norwegian event - 21 April 2021, 11:00 CEST