How does ESA enable the European space industry to prosper in the global market? People attending this week’s VivaTech show in Paris – which will showcase how innovation and technology can build a more sustainable and inclusive society – will discover how.

Some 2,000 exhibitors – including 1,700 start-up companies – will be at the event, which runs from 15 to 18 June. It is expected to attract 26,000 visitors with a further 114,000 people from almost 150 countries attending online.

The global space industry is worth about $350 billion, a figure that is predicted to rise to over $1 trillion by 2040. For Europe to fully benefit from having a vibrant space industry that creates jobs and prosperity, it needs to further foster industrial competitiveness and increase commercial investment in space.

ESA is working to unlock the potential of space to improve the lives of European citizens, with partners ranging from established multinational space firms to fledgling start-up companies, entrepreneurs and investors, as part of its Agenda 2025.

Delegates at VivaTech 2021

Geraldine Naja, ESA’s Director of Commercialisation, Industry and Procurement, is due to highlight how the agency is helping to encourage private investment in space companies while simultaneously fostering innovation and promoting competitiveness in the European space industry, in a session on crafting commercialisation policies for space on 17 June.

She will present some of ESA’s commercialisation programmes to the VivaTech show.

ESA is supporting new commercial space transportation services through its Boost! programme, which promotes competitiveness, growth and innovation. Targeting access to space, in-space and return-from-space capabilities, Boost! is partnering with European service providers that are developing new commercial launch services for small satellites, last-mile in-orbit delivery, and recoverable orbital platforms. Through the Boost! programme, the space companies are benefitting from access to ESA expertise, test facilities, co-funding and more.

ESA’s Φ-lab based at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, is working to accelerate the future of Earth observation using innovations that have the potential to transform or create industries via new technologies. Φ-lab aims to strengthen the world-leading competitiveness of European Earth observation, both in industry and in research.

Φ-lab is home to a programme called “Investing in Industrial Innovation” or “InCubed” for short. The programme focuses on developing innovative and commercially successful products and services that exploit the value of Earth observation imagery and datasets. InCubed has a very wide scope and can be used to co-fund anything from building satellites to ground applications and everything between – or to develop new Earth observation business models.

ESA intends to further extend its efforts to make Europe a space commercialisation hub that nurtures and grows global space companies that will contribute to a sustainable future through a new programme called ScaleUp. The programme – which will be presented to governmental ministers from ESA’s 22 member states at a council meeting in November – consists of two elements.

ScaleUp Innovate seeks to transform great ideas into commercial realities by supporting innovation to develop a product or a service and bring it to market, whether upstream in the space industry or downstream for other industrial use. ScaleUp Invest aims to support the development of scale-up ventures targeting new and emerging global commercial space markets.

Geraldine Naja

A SpaceTech Platform will be launched at the VivaTech show. The platform provides people working in the space industry with an overview of the space ecosystem in Europe. It contains financial information on companies, particularly those that have received support from ESA.

Geraldine Naja, ESA’s Director of Commercialisation, Industry and Procurement, said: “ESA aims to fully exploit the potential of space to create growth and economic value – and to improve the lives of European citizens. While Europe has, so far, not fully used the opportunities in domains such as dotcom or Big Tech, Europe can become a world leader in future high-potential space markets by investing now in innovation in its space companies.”

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