Networking/Partnering Initiative

ESA's Networking/Partnering Initiative (NPI) supports work carried out by universities and research institutes on advanced technologies with potential space applications, with the aim of fostering increased interaction between ESA, European universities, research institutes and industry.

The NPI provides an important opportunity for the space sector to take advantage of potential spin-ins from new technologies from non-space sectors such as consumer electronics, material sciences and the emerging nano and microtechnology domains.

By intensifying its interaction with university departments and research institutes, ESA intends to strengthen their links with space institutions and industry, encouraging them to embark upon space-related technology and make a vital contribution to meeting the long-term needs of Europe's space programme.

Proposals accepted by the Initiative are offered support in a number of ways:

  • Co-funding – The NPI can co-fund research up to 50% or €30,000 per year for a doctorate degree or post-doctoral investigations
  • Access to ESTEC laboratories: NPI participants are able to use ESTEC facilities for a minimum of six and a maximum of 12 months
  • Technical support – NPI participants gain access to ESA experts with whom they can discuss proposal concepts and verify their potential for space applications
  • Networking – NPI participants will be able to search for industrial partners for further cooperation and build 'innovation networks' through ESA links

Upon selection of a proposal, ESA enters into a contractual arrangement with the university or research institute concerned as the researcher will remain a student or employee of the establishment concerned.

How to apply

ESA invites universities and research organisations in its Member States to submit innovative doctoral or post-doctoral proposals for research in any technical domain relevant to space. ESA Technical Officers are available to provide assistance with elaborating proposals and ideas. To assure that funding is synchronised with the academic calendar, NPI applications are examined twice yearly by a selection board composed of ESA and external experts.

Universities and research organisations interested in taking part in the NPI can contact Joerg Wehner, the NPI Programme Manager, for further information and a proposal template.

Email: npi @

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