Connecting Innovations and Opportunities in ESA’s Business Network

From 13 to 15 May 2024, the European Space Agency (ESA) hosted its Network Meeting in Tartu, Estonia, for the first time. Every year, the ESA Commercialisation Gateway invites representatives of the ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs), ESA Technology Brokers and ESA Phi-Labs to gather for the exchange of ideas, best practices, and new strategies. The event in Estonia was a vibrant gathering filled with exciting discussions,Β  new connections, and reunions with familiar faces. It also was a perfect opportunity to launch the campaign of 20 years of the ESA BIC network – one of the Europe’s leading startup hubs – with forthcoming celebrations planned to highlight the first 20 years of powering entrepreneurship with space (#20yearsESABIC).Β 

NL Space Campus within the ESA Network

NL Space Campus is an integral part of the ESA Network, matching the commercialisation objectives of ESA with the campus’ objectives to strengthen the space innovation ecosystem. At the heart of this collaboration is the ESA Commercialisation Gateway, a “one-stop shop” for accessing many commercial opportunities within the ESA. This gateway facilitates innovation, provides commercial support, and connects businesses to global investor networks, aiding them from the inception of ideas to successful business outcomes. NL Space Campus and the Space Business Innovation Centre (SBIC) Noordwijk collaborate on various initiatives to support this vision.

Entrepreneurial hub at ESA BIC Noordwijk

From its headquarters on NL Space Campus, SBIC Noordwijk manages a number of programmes that enable the transformation of space-related business concepts into successful commercial companies by offering support and facilitating technical expertise and business development. The most important activity that the SBIC team is responsible for is the management of ESA BIC Noordwijk. This incubation programme supports entrepreneurs and startups based in the Netherlands in launching or enhancing products and services utilising space technology or data. It operates via a permanent open call from ESA, with two selection deadlines per year (in the spring and fall), after which representatives of the Tender Evaluation Board (ESA, the Netherlands Space Office, and incubation partners of SBIC) review all applications.

Learn more about how ESA BIC Noordwijk supports startups in the Netherlands

ESA Technology Broker in the Netherlands

The ESA Technology Broker NL, managed jointly by SBIC Noordwijk and NL Space Campus, strives to heighten the synergy between space and terrestrial industries in the Netherlands. It leverages national technological roadmaps to focus on key sectors such as agri-food, energy, transport & logistics, and high tech. The broker aims to address innovation challenges using existing technology in the Netherlands while maintaining strong connections with space technology developers across ESA Member States.

Learn more about ESA Technology Broker in the Netherlands

Spark Hub: A Space for Collaboration

Last year, the community celebrated the launch of the Spark Hub. Located within SBIC Noordwijk, the Spark Hub is a collaborative initiative led by ESA, designed to support startups, companies, and space enthusiasts.

Niels Eldering, head of Entrepreneurship and Business Incubation in ESA’s Commercialisation Services Department, emphasised the hub’s dual role: “The Spark Hub represents both a virtual and physical dimension of our community. It’s a platform for ESA and its entrepreneurial community to integrate more deeply into the space commercialisation process, fostering co-creation among startups, our team, and stakeholders across Europe.”

Learn more about Spark Hub

NL PhiLab: Innovating for the Future

ESA is developing a network of Ξ¦-labs – the first in Austria was recently announced – and NL Space Campus has submitted a proposal to establish the Dutch NL PhiLab. These labs focus on delivering innovations that are ready for commercialisation and have the potential to significantly impact various markets. The approach emphasises innovation “sourced from research” and applies an ‘all-under-one-roof’ model, collaborating with academic institutions, research centres, space agencies, industry, and intermediaries such as ESA BICs, technology brokers, accelerators, and private investors, including venture capital organisations.

The primary goal of these Ξ¦-labs is to stimulate and promote disruptive innovation. If approved, the NL PhiLab will be an innovative environment dedicated to developing and testing new technologies and methods for Earth Observation, Critical Infrastructure (Positioning, Navigation, Timing), and Common Capabilities supporting these technologies, such as secure satellite communication. Situated at the NL Space Campus, this lab aims to accelerate the valorisation of research with significant social potential, contributing to the broader objective of advancing technological and scientific innovation.

Get Involved!

If you’re looking to explore new business opportunities or innovative applications for space technologies, there are several avenues available to assist you. Consider ESA BIC Noordwijk, which supports new ventures and collaborative projects. On June 27, ESA BIC Noordwijk will host the webinar to share the initial, general information about the ESA BIC programme. If you’re interested in leveraging space technologies for non-space applications or solving technological challenges, ESA Technology Broker NL provides valuable resources and contacts to explore. Additionally, if you’re involved in impactful research relevant to space industry products or services, NL PhiLab offers opportunities to collaborate with high-level research teams. Reach out to Pedro via for details on the upcoming call scheduled for this summer.Β 

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