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Satnews Daily
June 19th, 2015

The European Space Agency's Incubation Program Helps To Grow More Than 300 Companies

[SatNews] ESA’s business incubators hit a milestone this month: They have now fostered 300 start-up companies, and more are joining all the time.

Thanks to innovations from the many Business Incubation Centers (BICs) start-ups, leading-edge applications that spring from space are spreading throughout Europe.

“Technologies from Europe’s space programs have turned out to be great problem-solvers here on Earth,” said Franco Ongaro, ESA Director of Technical and Quality Management. “They are now used in the most diverse applications, from healthcare to transport, from sport to entertainment, from managing Earth’s resources to helping the environment – and many more areas of our daily lives. These transfers of space technology result in new companies and jobs improving regional economies and helping to secure Europe’s global competitiveness. We have now boosted this spin-off effect by supporting more than 300 new companies, and each year we nurture another 100 via our Technology Transfer Program and incubation centers.”

These start-ups and their entrepreneurs offer smarter and better solutions to problems. For example, safety for truck drivers at mines in Chile and Botswana has been improved by a Dutch start-up inspired by astronaut monitoring. The carbon emission and fuel consumption of heating systems have been cut by a UK company thanks to advanced coatings on satellite microthrusters.

In Germany, maintenance of street signs, bicycle rental stands and other features are now handled more quickly and cheaply with the help of ‘microjobs’ via smartphone, thanks to a start-up building on satellite navigation. In southern France, a company has embedded augmented reality into drone land-mapping video to help the operators analyze measurements in real time.

Many such new offerings are put to the market every year by entrepreneurs hosted by incubators in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the UK, France, Spain and Portugal.

“The ideas from our entrepreneurs and start-ups are in most cases directly based on spin-off from Europe’s space programs,” added Mr Ongaro. “It can be a special technology developed for a spacecraft, an ESA patent, our Galileo satnav system, Earth observation satellites data or it can be the reuse of expertise from our development of satellites and launchers that is turned into a novel non-space application. In all cases, it results in a new European company.”