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Portugal Space seeks incubators to strengthen ESA’s network in Portugal

cmptspace on 7 de April, 2020

The Portuguese Space Agency, together with the Instituto Pedro Nunes, want to strengthen the Incubation Centre of the European Space Agency in Portugal, with new technological incubators. The national network will size ten incubators.

Fundamental in the implementation of the “Portugal Space 2030” strategy and in working towards the creation of 1,000 new jobs, Portugal Space is looking for new incubators to increase the presence of the space sector throughout the Portuguese territory and to strengthen the Space Solutions Centre of the European Space Agency (ESA).

The call addressed to Portuguese technology incubators, is launched today, 7 of April, by Portugal Space, and it’s one more instrument of the strategy that will allow Portugal to multiply the turnover of the space sector by ten by 2030, with a significant contribution to the country’s socio-economic growth.

Space is increasingly seen as a commodity. By opening up to the economy and society it provides solutions to other sectors and contributes to their increased competitiveness through a multidisciplinary approach to social and global challenges. Incubators are, in this context, a compelling environment allowing the connection of Space and non-space sectors, creating new businesses and open new markets.

In December, the Portuguese startup Theia won the Copernicus Masters, promoted by the European Commission and the European Space Agency, with an application that uses Earth Observation satellite data to monitor the stability of slopes and the reduction of the ground on motorways and roads. Theia is one of 30 startups that went through the incubation process in IPN, where entrepreneurs have support to transfer space technology to terrestrial sectors.

Theia won the Copernicus Masters with ERMES (Extensive Road Monitoring Early-warning System), an application that processes Space data to early identification of potentially dangerous occurrences and contributing to more efficient monitoring activity, complementing the in situ measures already available.

The competition targets incubators which, in addition to being registered in Portugal, have facilities to receive the startups that will benefit from ESA’s program. The incubators must also have a team that will provide startups with the necessary support.

ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs) started in 2003 intending to inspire and work with entrepreneurs to turn space-connected business ideas into commercial startups companies. Today, there are 21 ESA’s centres, disseminated for more than 60 cities – including Coimbra, Caiscas (DNA Cascais) and Oporto (Parque Ciência e Tecnologia da Universidade do Porto) – in 17 European countries.  In almost 20 years, more than 700 start-ups have been fostered throughout Europe creating thousands high tech jobs, thanks to the applications of space systems, and the space technologies transfer to market.

The assessment of applications will depend on criteria such as experience, team composition, shareholders, connection to space activities, among others. Collaborations with the National Innovation System will be considered, as well as the number of startups supported since the creation of the incubator, the turnover and jobs created in the last year by the supported companies, capital raised by tenants since the beginning of the activity, among others.

Applications, which must be sent by 11:59 pm on 9th of May, will be evaluated by Portugal Space. If accepted, the incubators will sign a one-year contract with IPN, renewable by three others, to work in a consortium led by the Coimbra organisation.

About Portugal Space

The Portuguese Space Agency is a private, not-for-profit organisation, created by the Portuguese Government, as the most modern space agency in the world. The Agency has as its primary purpose to promote and strength space, its ecosystem and value chain in Portugal for the benefit of society and economies in the country and worldwide, acting as a business and development unit for universities, research entities and companies.

Fostering space economy and innovation in Portugal requires diversifying and articulating funding sources. The target of attracting 2500 million Euros for 2020-2030 with a 50/50 balance between public and private sectors, including national and European, public and private sources in space-related activities in Portugal has been set. This target considers increasing by a factor of 10 the overall level of investment in space in Portugal until 2030.

The national strategy for space, “Portugal Space 2030”, sets the fields of focus Earth Observation, Space Safety, Space Transportation, and Telecommunications, including related downstream activities. The strategy works towards the vision for Portugal – an Atlantic nation, with a rich and global maritime tradition – to be recognised, by 2030, as a worldwide authority in the science and economics of Space-Earth-Climate-Oceans interactions for the benefit of society and economy.

It is in this context that “Democratization of Space” in terms of the full integration of space into economy and society in a sustainable manner, both environmental (in space and on-Earth), as well as economic, is addressed and that the motto “clean Oceans with clean Space” can be placed.

About ESA Space Solutions Portugal

The Incubation Centre of the European Space Agency (ESA) in Portugal (ESA BIC Portugal) was created at Instituto Pedro Nunes (IPN) at the end of 2014. It aims to support startups that use space technology for non-space industrial and commercial uses such as health, energy, transport, security and urban life, among others.

Launched by ESA and the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), the incubator is led by IPN, with the collaboration of the Science and Technology Park of the University of Porto and the DNA Cascais agency.

In the last five years (2015-2019), the first phase of the technology transfer programme coordinated by IPN, ESA BIC Portugal has incubated 30 companies, created more than 100 new jobs and generated a total turnover of around five million euros.

IPN is also an ambassador for the ESA Business Applications programme, an initiative through which 16 projects using satellite data (such as Earth Observation data or Satellite Communication Systems) to create new products and services have been supported, with an investment of 2.5 million euros.

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