Space Is Open For Business – with significant funding opportunities for local SMEs

The City Innovation Unit in Belfast City Council has strong ties with the European Space Agency, our dedicated business ambassador for Scotland and Northern Ireland, Pamela Anderson has a clear message for NI SMEs ‘Space Is Open for Business’.

Pamela Anderson

The vision of ESA Business Applications is to improve the lives of people on Earth through Space. We make this possible by enabling and supporting businesses in the short-term commercialisation and application of Space data and technology for everyday services.

Our objectives include:

  • Promotion of space applications to a wider range of users, especially those who are not aware of the benefits that space technologies can bring to them
  • Development of new operational services for these users, involving a broader participation by actors on both the demand and supply sides

If you are a business operating in one of these sectors: 

And interested or already working in:

    • Satellite Communications
    • Earth Observation
    • Satellite Navigation
    • Human Spaceflight technologies
    • and others

The ESA challenge programme may be for you.

Challenge calls

As with City Innovation, the ESA Business Applications always start from a set of user needs that relate to a specific problem or opportunity, rather than starting from a particular technological solution.

ESA Business Applications offers funding and support to businesses from any sector who intend to use space (satellite navigation, earth observation, satellite telecommunication, space weather, space technologies) to develop new commercial services.

Applications are open all year: businesses can either apply to a thematic opportunity (see list below) or submit an open application (Call for Proposals).


Kick-start Activities

Big Data in Health Kick-start

Invitation to Tender      Opening date: 02 October 2018      Closing date: 13 November 2018

‘Big Data in Health’ revolves around the idea of developing new modes of healthcare delivery and associated commercial services.

Asia-Pacific Kick-Start

Intended Tender      Opening date: 14 November 2018      Closing date: 14 January 2019

The Asia-Pacific Region is a dynamic region which presents excellent growth opportunities for international cooperation.

Virtual and Augmented Reality Kick-Start

Intended Tender      Opening date: 15 January 2019      Closing date: 25 February 2019

Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies are an emerging market and offer a range of new visualisation capabilities and more intuitive, descriptive interactions compared to traditional screen based applications.


Space and Biotechnology

Invitation to Tender      Opening date: 22 October 2018      Closing date: 21 January 2019

Biotechnology can benefit from using space-based data and other space capabilities. From plant-science to bio-crime, apply here with your commercially viable innovative solutions.

Unmanned Maritime Systems (UMS)

Invitation to Tender      Opening date: 03 September 2018      Closing date: 08 November 2018

We’re looking for business cases related to all the ecosystem of unmanned maritime vehicles. Maritime surveillance, demining operations, environmental monitoring, logistic and maintenance.

Direct Negotiation (CALL FOR PROPOSALS)

ESA & 5Groningen Opportunity

Invitation to Tender

Space has an invaluable role to play in the 5G space. ESA and 5Groningen are working together to enable you to be a part of the future in 5G ecosystem.

Feasibility Studies

Direct Negotiation (Call for Proposals)

Feasibility Studies provide the preparatory framework to identify, analyse and define new potentially sustainable applications and services within the ESA Business Applications programme.

Demonstration Projects

Direct Negotiation (Call for Proposals)

The output of Demonstration Projects shall be a pre-operational service responding to well identified user needs and requirements and should show a clear potential to become sustainable at the conclusion of the project with ESA.