Ask The Community: How To Integrate Your Space Business into a Different Sector? [Part 2] 

 In the latest edition of “Ask the Community” during Network & Drinks in June, we revisited the question, “How do you integrate your space business into other sectors?” The results of the research conducted by Saurab den Butter and Jelle van Zundert were shared. They summarised their efforts to connect space technologies with the top sectors and Top Consortium for Knowledge and Innovation (TKI) Agendas of the Netherlands.   

About the Research 

This research project aimed to explore the integration of space technologies into terrestrial applications across various sectors. The focus was on examining the policies and programmes of the Top Consortium for Knowledge and Innovation (TKI) to identify overlaps with space technologies and investigate how these technologies can address market needs in sectors such as agri-food, logistics, high-tech industries, and energy. By developing a comprehensive space technology portfolio, our study aims to uncover opportunities for technology transfer and innovation across different domains, ultimately enhancing the societal and economic impacts of investments in space technology. 

Key Findings

Initial Strategy

Our methodology consisted of desk research and scouting for overlaps with the space sector. We contacted several organisations and companies via email and cold-calling, attempting to set up online meetings.Through these interviews, we gained v= insights and feedback, which we used to iterate further on this project. We maintained regular contact with the ESA technology broker from both SBIC and NLSPACECAMPUS, holding frequent meetings to ensure ongoing collaboration. We extend our gratitude to SBIC, NLSPACECAMPUS, and especially our supervisors: Corneel Bogaert, ir. Raoul Voeten, and dr. Pedro Lacerda. 

The initial strategy consisted of the following steps: 

  • Sector Familiarisation: We began by studying roadmaps and industry reports to understand the agri-food sector’s main topics and challenges. 
  • Identifying Key Enabling Technologies: We identified key technologies either mentioned in the sector’s roadmap or through additional research. 
  • Technology Transfer Potential: We shortlisted technologies that could potentially result in a transfer to the space sector, considering both technological feasibility and commercial viability. 
  • Identifying Key Players: We focused on identifying key players involved with the shortlisted technologies through desk research. 
  • Conclusion and Results: We summarized our findings, listing key enabling technologies, relevant sector players, and potential space business applications. 

Strategy Improvements

After the first month, it became clear that desk research alone was insufficient. To gain more insights, we added a feedback loop between each step. This involved: 

  • Sector Feedback: After initial research, we sought input from sector professionals to test our knowledge, gain additional insights, and get suggestions for the next steps. 
  • Field Labs and R&D Focus: We shifted our focus from commercial companies to field labs and R&D organisations, which are more open to discussing challenges and collaborating on technology transfers. 
  • Interviews with Key Players: We included an additional step to reach out to identified key players for interviews, gaining insights into specific technological challenges and discussing potential collaborations. 


Our strategy, while yielding interesting results, had several limitations: 

  • Arbitrary Technology Selection: Step 3 was flawed due to our limited knowledge of the space sector, which influenced our shortlist of technologies. 
  • Incomplete Technological Challenges List: The resulting list of technological challenges was not exhaustive, limited by the small network we built during our internship. 
  • Information Overload: The vast amount of technological challenges and solutions made it difficult to process all information and create a comprehensive analysis. 
  • Limited Feedback Implementation: Due to time constraints and a limited network, we often skipped feedback steps, reducing the potential benefits of these insights. 


Our research highlighted the potential of integrating space technologies into various terrestrial sectors. However, despite our efforts, we faced with several significant challenges that limited our ability to produce concrete results and actionable insights. These challenges included the arbitrary selection of technologies due to limited sector knowledge, an incomplete list of technological challenges, information overload, and difficulties in obtaining comprehensive feedback. 

To improve future research, the activities must include building stronger collaborations with sector experts, expanding networks, and providing more effective feedback. Our experience demonstrate the importance of a robust, well-connected network and continuous refinement of research strategies to achieve meaningful and practical outcomes. 

Key Takeaways for Entrepreneurs 

  1. Focus on Building Networks: Collaborating with sector experts and expanding networks is vital for gaining deeper insights and overcoming knowledge limitations. 
  1. Incorporate Feedback Loops: Regularly seek input from professionals within the sector to test assumptions and refine strategies. 
  1. Leverage R&D Organisations: Engage with field labs and R&D organizations, which are often more open to discussing challenges and collaborating on technology transfers. 
  1. Acknowledge Information Overload: Be prepared for the vast amount of data and focus on effective data management strategies to handle information overload. 

While the study faced limitations, these insights can guide future research and help entrepreneurs navigate the complexities of integrating space technologies into terrestrial applications. 

About The ESA Technology Broker NL 

The ESA Technology Broker Network is a dedicated consortium of specialists uniting space and non-space industries for the purpose of technology transfer.  The ESA Technology Broker for the Netherlands operates through a collaborative effort between the NL Space Campus and the Space Business Innovation Centre Noordwijk.  Drawing upon national technological roadmaps, the broker focuses on key sectors such as agri-food, energy, logistics and transportation, and high tech. The aim is to address innovation challenges using existing technology in the Netherlands while also leveraging relations with space technology developers across ESA Member States. 

Reach out to the Broker 

Whether you’re a non-space entity seeking to address innovation challenges or a space entity exploring terrestrial applications, we’re here to assist. Share your technology needs or innovative solutions, and let us facilitate impactful collaborations and technology transfers. 

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