ESA title

Space-based Innovation and Digitalisation for the School of Tomorrow: Digital Learning for STEM Education

  • Activity Demonstration Project
  • Opening date 04-11-2022
  • Closing date 20-01-2023


Schools have always played the role of catalysts of innovation and creativity. They are the place where students explore, often for the first time, new technologies and advanced solutions. The advantage of technologies and innovation in the education sector is twofold: students are accompanied and prepared to enter the world of work, and they also become an essential tool for enhancing the quality of teaching and the learning process, especially in extraordinary circumstances, such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

ESA is launching an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) inviting companies to submit their ideas for deploying and demonstrating services to respond to the need of innovation in the education sector. 

The high-level objectives of the AO are to: 

  • guarantee the right of education to each student irrespective of geography, social status, economic conditions even during extraordinary circumstances
  • support the digital transformation of the school through the adoption of innovative technologies and solutions to replace traditional learning solutions
  • offer the opportunity to economic operators to develop and demonstrate applications based on space for the benefit of students and educators
  • promote the knowledge of space-related disciplines to educators and students

Moreover, this AO aims to foster the connection between students of different countries as cultural exchanges are an opportunity for personal and professional growth.

The AO is an umbrella call organised around specific macro-areas, the current one to be addressed is digital learning for STEM Education.
Tenderers shall engage with at least two schools and agree with the relevant personnel a pilot trial to verify and deploy in an operational environment the proposed service(s).


Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)/drone as educational tool

Many see a UAV/drone as a microcosm for STEM. The equipment itself in fact is the result of an accurate combination between engineering and technology which needs to take into account: e.g. optics for the camera, electronic for the command and control, communication for the data transmission, aerodynamics for the flight. Moreover, the drone is used for a wide range of applications which are belonging to science as well. Images and measurements taken by drones are an important asset to deepen the knowledge on ecology, the environment, geography, biology etc

The UAV/drone can be an effective educational tool especially for high school students. 

Papers have been published on the good results that the tech gadgets, such as drones, have on the students as they enable a more innovative and interactive learning.

There are several publications and investigations looking into the positive benefits of using drones within STEM education (for instance 

One paper reports that thanks to aerial drones “(…)the student teams, under the guidance of diverse mentors, comprehensively fortified their STEM problem-solving skills and critical thinking” (see .

Drones can also provide students with the opportunity to build capacity and knowledge that could be the basis for their future career. For instance, something students may be able to learn while operating drones is the creation of 3D maps, DEMs and other geographical models. As an example, this can be useful experience within any industry that requires heavy construction such as mining, urban planning, and civil engineering all of which can benefit from a 3D terrain model.

Participatory design

Co-operative design or just co-design is considered an adequate approach where teachers and students collaborate to decide the priorities and the content of STEM disciplines. The traditional top-down method where the teachers decide unilaterally what and how students must learn can appear outdated when it comes to technology development and latest trends. Often, in fact, students would like to be actively engaged and to bring their own perspective into the subject. Student empowerment and democratisation should be the main route. Tools and services which facilitate the interactive exchange of innovative concepts and ideas when working within a co-design environment are needed to streamline the process and to make a more efficient use of the resources. Within STEM education, a co-design environment can be used as a true hands-on experience in designing, developing, and testing for instance based on content derived from space-based Earth observation which provides a multi-faceted STEM experience for the students involved.

Cubesats as instrumental and vocational educational tool

Cubesats/nanosatellites were first conceived about 20 years ago as a hands-on education tool. They are typically composed of one or more units of 10x10x10cm in size with a mass of up to 1.33 kg.  Today, they have matured and have expanded beyond the education domain and are used operationally in space missions, technology demonstrations and industrial applications. Within STEM education, they can be used a true hands-on experience in designing, developing, testing, and operating a real spacecraft system and its ground segment which provides a multi-faceted STEM experience for the students involved. In addition, and on an even more compact scale the size of a drinks can, CADSats (age groups 11-15) and CANSats (14-19) can provide similar opportunities linked to STEM education.


Space assets can play a key role in the development of these services.

Satellite Communication (SatCom) can:

  • provide connectivity where terrestrial communications are insufficient to enable tele-education

Satellite Navigation (SatNav) can:

  • enable applications in the virtual reality (VR)/augmented reality (AR) environment
  • validate the access to the virtual platform based on the location of the pupils and the time when the access is done

Satellite Earth Observation (SatEO) can:

  • provide collection of data for production of images and maps, e.g., to provide relevant parameters into the VR/AR environment used for the competition or for the training (e.g. geographical maps)


ESA will bear up to 50% of the acceptable cost (up to an estimated amount of max. 1,000,000 Euro). The remainder must be financed by the Tenderer through private sector direct and/or indirect co-funding and/or by the users based on terms and conditions to be agreed upon.

To the extent that activities are performed by Universities and Research Institutes with no commercial interest in the proposed product/service, or by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, said activities are funded up to 80% by the Agency, depending on the funding level authorised by the related National Delegation(s).


Motivation, business experience and domain expertise are all important features. We want to hear about your ideas that involve utilisation of either space technology or space data. 

The Agency will admit for evaluation only (Outline and Full) Proposals from a bidding team composed of an economic operator - being a prime or subcontractor - residing in any of those states that subscribe to the Business Applications and Space Solutions (BASS) Generic Programme Line (GPL) or to the Space for 5G & 6G Strategic Programme Line (5G/6G SPL) under the ARTES 4.0 framework, should the proposed solution integrate also the 5G element.

To date, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom have subscribed to BASS. 

Furthermore, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom have subscribed to 5G SPL. 

Economic Operators (both prime and subcontractor), intending to respond to this AO are requested to send their Outline Proposal to their National Delegation(s).

Contact information can be found under:


There are two steps involved in applying to this call:
1. Outline Proposal: the first step is the submission of an Outline Proposal.

Please download the Outline Proposal template here.

Please upload the finalised Outline Proposal using the online web submission form.

Outline Proposals shall be submitted to ESA at the latest on 20 January 2023, EOB (see above notice).

2. Full Proposal: Following notification by ESA on the acceptance of the Outline Proposal, the Tenderer may decide to prepare a Full Proposal using the provided template.  Only Full Proposals supported with a “Letter(s) of Authorisation of Funding” (AOF) from National Delegations covering the Full Proposal will be admitted for evaluation. The Full Proposals shall be delivered via “esa-star”.
To submit the Full Proposal on “esa-star”, the following steps are applicable:

  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 and request a Letter of Authorisation.
  6. Submit your proposal via esa-star before the appropriate deadline.



Webinars are scheduled for the following dates:

  • 15:00 CET, 2 November 2022