Space technology: food for thought when it comes to solving real-world problems
Original publication from: https://www.sbicnoordwijk.nl/d...
The ESA Technology Broker network has new chefs in the space technology kitchen cooking up new connections in the Netherlands. In September 2022, SBIC Noordwijk and NL Space Campus jointly began operating the brokerage to facilitate technology transfer solutions. Both organisations are ideally situated for this role: as key players within an established community for space business; and having a wide reach among the non-space sector. The recipe for success is first to identify the terrestrial need – what are the problems that need solving?
The European Space Agency (ESA) has established a network of brokers to create added value for and boost European industry through collaboration between the space and non-space industries. The ESA Technology Broker for the Netherlands works closely with the ESA Commercialisation Gateway and the Netherlands Space Office. The objective is to create added value for industry by providing a solution to innovation challenges using space solutions.
Seeking a solution for your technological problem?
We all might have our favourite existing space technology that we are itching to get our hands on and make use of – but let’s not be hasty. Instead of cherry picking a technology and attempting to make it fit an industrial application, it is vital to first establish what the technical issues are that need solving. Erik van der Heide, connect & development manager at SBIC, explains: “To find a market solution, we first need to look at problems in the market and then provide direction as to how space knowledge can help solve the problem. That’s our focus.”
Bridging markets and technologies is key. No matter what their field of business, small and well-established companies can be supported to achieve their ambitions. Entrepreneurs who have no link to space will not be thinking along those lines, which is precisely where the experts in the brokerage come in – to connect and identify how a space application can be integrated to solve the problem and help them progress their goals. Behind the brokerage is a wider community, spanning from the heart of the space campus in Noordwijk and out across the country as a whole, meaning it is ideally positioned to take on this pivotal role.
Focusing on agri-food, energy, logistics and high tech
“We focus our efforts across the Netherlands, targeting certain sectors on the technological roadmaps that exist at national level,” comments Raoul Voeten, the commercial programme manager at NL Space Campus.
“We are lucky in the sense that our government has organised support to various clusters and, after analysing the markets, we have identified four key focus sectors: agri-food, energy, logistics & transportation, and high tech.”
The companies and key players within these areas have defined ambitions for their businesses – some may have considered that space applications can help achieve these development goals, but most will not. He continues: “The business of space is our area of expertise, and we primarily will help to solve innovation challenges with technology that exists within the Netherlands – though, we can also extend our reach into the wider ESA broker network across Europe if that is where the most appropriate solution can be found.”
Get support from the ESA Technology Broker NL
Entrepreneurs, startups or larger companies in any of the key sectors – whether that be agri-food, energy, logistics or high tech, etc. – can reach out to tap into the knowledge base and investigate possibilities or undertake feasibility studies.
What problems need solving in, for example, the energy sector to produce a circular fuel or in the medical sector to advance the growth of organs – investigations undertaken in microgravity could be the answer.
Technological solutions to problems with high socio-economic impact will be priority when it comes to progressing ideas, obtaining funding and successfully bringing a product to market. The broker will act as the intermediary to partner and help progress the process.
Navigating your new space connections
Erik is keen to point it: “There are no financial commitments needed for our support – we are there, as an independent party, to facilitate, moderate and, further down the line, identify funding opportunities. Companies who partner with us can be assured that, because of our background, they will be supported through the whole process. They can trust us to advise and help them navigate this new ecosystem, while connecting them with the appropriate players in the space sector. It is a process of matchmaking; we make connections, provide access to tools and set out key stage development targets, before stepping back once the technical links have been established and the process is underway.”
With this call, it is hoped to reach new contacts and stimulate new partnerships. Has this sparked your curiosity? Then get in touch and arrange an initial meet-up over coffee. Starting the discussion is the important first step.