ESA’s S2UN Challenge contest

The Space Solutions University Challenge is an initiative of the Technology Transfer Programme Office to give European students the opportunity to work with ESA in the pursuit of non-space applications based on the Agency’s intellectual property portfolio.   

Aimed at technical graduate and masters students with an entrepreneurial spirit, the initiative is based on the notion that many of the technologies developed for space have to meet very strict requirements – such as for solid robustness, light weight, small size and high reliability – that also make them desirable back on Earth.

Transferring of these technologies to non-space systems can be of great benefit to students with entrepreneurial potential in creating new business prospects. At the same time, spin-offs yield tangible return from Europe’s investments in space research and exploration.

Student opportunity with ESA patents

The contest will challenge teams of university students to develop business plans based on a number of intellectual property rights (IPRs) protected by ESA.

Each participating university can enrol with up to 10 teams, each with 3–5 students, who will work on creating business ideas based upon ESA patented technologies, as part of entrepreneurial courses in their own universities. Their business plans will outline the use of a technology in a non-space specific application.

All groups will be supported by ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO) during the development phase. They will meet the technology inventor or scientist responsible for the patent, and will receive advise on business aspects and spin-off procedures.

The group who develops the most complete idea and feasible business plan in each participating university will be invited to the Agency’s space technology R&D centre ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, to present their work in front of a panel of scientists, the technology inventor and representatives from TTPO.

If the students decide to proceed with developing their business plan after the contest, they can be supported at one of ESA’s seven business incubation centres.

ESA’s Space Solutions University Challenge will be open to graduate and master students at participating universities in ESA Member States.

First contest, 2012–13

The participating universities in the first contest are:

- Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto (FEUP), Portugal
- Instituto Superior Técnico, Portugal
- Universidad de Oviedo, Spain
- Politecnico di Torino, Italy.

ESA contact

Nuria Hernandez Alfageme
Telephone: +31 71 565 6511

ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO)

The main mission of ESA's Technology Transfer Programme is to facilitate the use of space technology and systems for non-space applications, and thereby also further demonstrating realising the benefit of the European space programmes to the citizens.

ESA TTPO is responsible for defining the overall approach and strategy for the transfer of space technologies and systems, including the incubation of start-up companies at ESA business incubation centres and related funding.

The office has transferred over 260 technologies since the programme start and is supporting directly and indirectly around 100 new start-ups a year. TTPO has also initiated as a limited partner the Open Sky Technology Fund, a €100 million venture fund which invests in start-ups using space technology.

For more information on TTPO, please contact:

ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office
European Space Agency
Keplerlaan 1
2200 AG, Noordwijk
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 71 565 6208

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