+Space in Portugal and Europe with ESA

The Strategy for the Portuguese participation in the 2019 ESA’s Ministerial Meeting, “Space19+” and the articulation of national / EU / ESA / business funding sources, with a clear diversification strategy for investment in space under an integrated and holistic approach.


Fostering space economy and innovation in Portugal requires diversifying and articulating funding sources and this document sets 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, according to:

  • public sector: about 1240 M€ which includes FCT, ESA, and EU and assumes that the EU finances around half of the total, the other 50% being financed by companies involved in addition to 50% through Joint Undertakings and public markets; and
  • private sector: about 1260M€ which includes investments made by companies and commercial markets.


This target considers increasing by a factor of 10 the overall level of investment in space in Portugal until 2030, including the following main challenges:

  • Increase the annual outcome of space related activities in Portugal to about 500 million Euros by 2030;
  • Create and promote about one thousand skilled jobs in Portugal in the period 2020-2030;
  • Attract major players to operate in Portugal and promote new entrepreneurial projects to help promote new high-added-value activities;
  • Strengthen space research in close cooperation among academia, scientists, the public administration and, above all, the business sector, together with the development of new skills and the advanced training of qualified human resources.


The successful ESA Ministerial Meeting, Space19+ (November 27-28, 2019), and the related discussions and approval of the ESA budget for 2020-24, together with the ongoing preparation of the financial perspectives for Europe for 2021-27, including the preparation of the next European framework program for research and innovation and the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), as well as the emerging forms of fundraising in Europe (including Joint Undertakings, JUs), represent a new opportunity and a great challenge for Portugal to take the next step and, building on what has been achieved so far, develop new ambitions in specific space fields and related applications in non-space sectors.


Following the development, and current process of implementation of the national strategy for space, “Portugal Space 2030”, fields of focus are: Earth Observation, Space Safety, Space Transportation, and Telecommunications, including related downstream activities, working towards the vision for Portugal – an Atlantic nation, with a rich and global maritime tradition – to be recognised, by 2030, as a global 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 this document approaches “Democratization of Space” in terms of the full integration of space into economy and society in a sustainable manner, both environmental as well as economic, and therefore a growth of the sector beyond public sector funding on which is has mostly relied thus far. Space19+ was a major milestone for Portugal on the way to this challenging target.


The 22 ESA Member States endorsed the most ambitious plan in the history of ESA, accounting for 14.4 billion euros over five years. The Portuguese contribution has also increased significantly from 73 million euro subscribed in 2016 to 102 million for the next years. In a time in which Space is no longer seen as a way for countries to show off their technological prowess and sovereignty, but rather as an added value to society and a competitive advantage for industries and economy, ESA’s Council at Ministerial Level, Space19+, came to an end this Thursday, with the approval of the most ambitious plan to date for the future of the European Space Agency and the whole European space sector.


The current document, which is split into three parts, presents the overall implementation strategy for “Portugal Space 2030” and describes the main decision elements for Space19+, including:

  • Part I presents the Portuguese context in which the ESA Ministerial Meeting has taking place and describes the strategic approach both from a content as well as from a funding point of view with the aim of implementing an evolution in the space strategy from one driven by technology capacity building to one driven by programmatic aims in the various fields of interest and of implementing this evolution not only in the frame of ESA but closely articulated with the national and European frameworks available through public and private funding instruments;
  • Part II provides a summary of the Portuguese approach to the ESA copresidency for the next three years, 2020-2023;
  • Part III provides a summary of the main decision of Space19+ as well as the corresponding financial elements.


The document includes a set of Annexes that provide background information such as: i) a high level summary of the main objective of the Portuguese space strategy, “Portugal Space 2030”; ii) an overview of the developments in Portugal in space over the last two years; iii) a financial overview of the past 20 years of Portuguese involvement in ESA; and iv) a summary of the programmatic approach followed in deriving the subscriptions at the ESA Ministerial Meeting, Space 19+.