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Denmark throttles up on space entrepreneurship with ESA

ESA’s latest Business Incubation Centre (BIC) was recently inaugurated in Denmark to welcome entrepreneurs with business ideas using smart technologies developed for Europe’s space programmes.

The new ESA BIC Denmark was opened on 4 March 2020 by Danish Minister of Higher Education and Science Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen, ESA Director General Jan Wörner, Technical University of Denmark (DTU) President Anders Bjarklev, CEO at Industriens Fond Thomas Hoffman-Bang and ESA BIC Denmark Manager Sune Nordentoft Lauritsen. 

ESA BIC Denmark was opened on 4 March 2020 by (from left) Technical University of Denmark (DTU) President Anders Bjarklev, Danish Minister of Higher Education and Science Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen, ESA Director General Jan Wörner, CEO at Industriens Fond Thomas Hoffman-Bang and ESA BIC Denmark Manager Sune Nordentoft Lauritsen. Image credits: Kaare Smith

“ESA BIC will empower Danish businesses and universities to bring more products based on space technologies and satellite data to market. Interdisciplinarity, knowledge transfer and data sharing are pivotal in order to solve the world’s climate crisis,” said Danish Minister Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen at the opening.

“Space technology – in particular satellites with their huge capacity for Earth data – can make a fundamental difference in the battle against climate change.”

Danish Minister of Higher Education and Science Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen at the opening of the new ESA BIC Denmark. Image credits: Kaare Smith.

ESA Director Jan Wörner welcomed this new “member of our Europe-wide initiative to spin off space technology to terrestrial sectors – spin-offs that build on innovations to explore space and offer smarter, better and more efficient solutions here on Earth to improve quality of life.”

“To support progress and growth across Europe, we make our knowledge and technology available to be used outside space. At our business incubation centres, entrepreneurs and start-ups are supported to create innovative solutions using satellite services and space technology.”

“To support progress and growth across Europe, we make our knowledge and technology available to be used outside space” says ESA Director General Jan Wörner. Image credits: Kaare Smith.

DTU President Anders Bjarklev emphasized the value of ESA BIC Denmark for both start-ups and existing companies: “With this new centre, we wish to strengthen and create even more start-ups related to space and thus strengthen our industry and create value and growth in Denmark.”

“We will also foster more corporate innovation and create even more technology transfer. Through collaborations between industry and our high-tech entrepreneurial ecosystems, we will see more commercialisation from space technologies.”

Wörner, Halsboe-Jørgensen and Bjarklev. Image credits: Kaare Smith.

Forty new start-ups plus boosts for existing industry

ESA BIC Denmark is the 21st member of ESA’s pan-European network of Business Incubation Centres. It will offer entrepreneurs support at its three hubs in Aalborg, Aarhus and Kongens Lyngby, close to Copenhagen. Here, start-ups will be provided with a free-of-charge package of business coaching, technical support and cash incentives during an incubation period of up to 2 years, as well as office space and logistics support at favourable rates. 

Over the coming 5 years, ESA BIC Denmark will foster 40 start-ups turning space tech and satellite data into innovate business solutions improving life on Earth, as well as introducing novel space solutions based on the re-use of leading-edge technologies from other sectors. This will result in 400 new jobs and an increase in turnover in space-related technologies of more than €20 million.

ESA BIC Denmark becomes the 21st in the pan-European network of ESA BICs. Image credit: Kaare Smith.

Existing Danish companies will also benefit from the new centre, through initiatives to increase the re-use of space technologies and patents from ESA programmes and the use of satellite data. They will also profit from matchmaking with over 800 existing start-ups from other ESA BICs and over 500 ESA Business Applications projects.

Having been jump-started last year, ESA BIC Denmark is already working with several Danish companies to take advantage of space technology transfer opportunities.

ESA BIC Denmark will contribute significantly to growing clusters of space-based companies in Denmark, driving cross-fertilization from ESA space-related companies to Danish non-space companies and facilitating space technology transfer from ESA to existing companies, as well as the use of satellite services.

Start-ups demonstrate innovation

Neonatal care. Image credits: Fourth State Solutions.

At the opening event, entrepreneurs from five potential Danish ESA BIC start-ups presented innovative solutions, including: national level optimisation of wind turbines; smart data connections for Earth’s most remote locations; an origami-designed moon habitat that is soon to be tested in Greenland; custom-analysed cloud-based satellite maps; an intelligent cane for blind people; and innovative ship-to-ship communications. 

Fourth State Systems, a start-up from ESA BIC Sweden, also showcased its space spin-off potential at the launch with a development for the medical sector. It applies a technology for planetary exploration to transcutaneous blood gas monitoring, where carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in blood and tissue are measured through the skin. This type of analysis is very important in many branches of medicine and vital for modern neonatal care.

ESA Business Incubation Centres

With ESA BIC Denmark, the pan-European network of ESA Business Incubation Centres operated under ESA Space Solutions has now grown to 21 in 18 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and UK. Together they form the largest ecosystem in the world for space-related entrepreneurship. Over 800 new start-ups have been fostered and another 180 are taken in annually at the network’s 65+ business incubation sites.

ESA Space Solutions 

Since the early 2000s, ESA Space Solutions has sought entrepreneurs with innovative ideas using space technologies and data in a non-space environment. Initiated as support to Europe’s space programmes, these technological innovations have resulted in many successful solutions for terrestrial markets. 

The transfers from space to Earth enhance the know-how and competitiveness of Europe by creating new start-up companies and leading to new jobs and growth. The programme provides multiple entry points, including: ESA BICs, where entrepreneurs can further develop their business plans and grow their new ventures; the ESA Business Applications programme that supports businesses from ideation to pre-commercialisation; and ESA Technology Brokers, which provide solutions to the industry through access to a wide range of advanced technologies developed by the space industry.


09 March 2020
Last updated at 09 April 2020 - 11:00