Space to boost start-ups in Madrid

24 February 2017

ESA’s Business Incubation Centre in Madrid, Spain, was officially presented this week, inviting entrepreneurs with business spin-off ideas to use smart technologies developed under Europe’s space programmes.

Welcoming  the ESA BIC Madrid Region, ESA Director General Jan Woerner said it was  “A member of our Europe-wide initiative to spin-off space technology to terrestrial sectors – spin-offs that build on innovations to explore space and offer smarter, better and more efficient solutions here on Earth to improve the quality of life.” 

“To support progress and growth across Europe, we make our knowledge and technology available to be used outside space. At our Business Incubation Centres, young entrepreneurs and start-ups are supported to create innovative solutions by the use of satellite services and space technology.

Johann-Dietrich WoernerAccess the image

“Through our Technology Transfer Programme Office, we have already helped to create and support over 430 new European companies, by spinning off Europe’s investments in space research and development and making them available to entrepreneurs.”

Over the next five years, the centre will support 40 Spanish start-ups at four technology houses located in universities and technology centres across the region. The entrepreneurs will also have access to ESA expertise from its European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) situated close to Madrid in Villanueva de la Cañada.

ESAC is the ‘home’ of ESA’s space astronomy and planetary missions, the place from where all ESA’s science operations are planned, executed and where the resulting scientific data is stored and distributed to the world’s scientists.

With the opening of the Madrid regional centre, Spain will have two BICs supporting entrepreneurs to spin-off new business from Europe’s space programmes, the other being in Barcelona.

Cristina CifuentesAccess the image

ESA BIC Madrid Region opening was introduced by Federico Morán, Director of the madri+d Knowledge Foundation, and attended by the President of the Community of Madrid, Cristina Cifuentes, and representing the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, the Secretary General for Industry and SMEs, Begoña Cristeto, as well as the Secretary General for Science and Innovation, Juan María Vázquez.

Cristina Cifuentes explained, “This initiative encourages innovation and enriches other industry segments, though the exploitation of technological advances developed for space programmes and would consolidate Madrid as the technological hub of southern Europe.

“The ESA BIC Madrid Region will help the development of the aerospace industry within the Community of Madrid which already accounts for 57% of the aerospace business in Spain, rising to 90% in space-related contracts.”

Begoña Cristeto Access the image

Begoña Cristeto emphasised, “The positive impact that the space sector can have on Spanish society and its economy, through the creation of companies and services which generate employment and improve the quality of life for citizens.

“Even more, this is a good example of collaboration between the diverse groups involved, central and regional government, the European Space Agency, industry and universities all contributing to ensure the success of the ESA BIC Madrid Region.”

Co-financed by ESA, through the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, and by the Regional Department of Economic Affairs, Employment and Treasury, the ESA BIC Madrid Region is managed by the madri+d Knowledge Foundation, which is a reference centre for science and technology.

Further technical support is provided by regional and national partner institutions including the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), Madrid Aerospace Cluster - Madrid Aeronautical and Space Platform (MPAE), the Spanish Official Association of Telecommunication Engineers (COIT), the National Institute for Innovation Financing (ENISA) and the National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA). 

Juan María Vázquez added, “The creation of new technology oriented companies and supporting innovative projects is part of the DNA of CDTI. In particular, the space sector has always been of specific interest for CDTI given its important industrial and technological potential.

“We believe that the ESA BIC Madrid Region is an excellent opportunity to help ensure that developments for space generate tangible benefits across Spain’s economy and society.”

Entrepreneurs already started

ESA BIC Madrid already hosts the first 14 start-ups. 

Among the hosted companies, some are involved in developing drone technology and solutions using unmanned aerial vehicles for firefighting, railway maintenance, precision agriculture and calibration of aeronautical navigational systems in airports.

Other companies are developing solutions with satnav-based guidance systems for blind people, applications of environmental control with the identification of polluted areas and unmanned robotic systems to secure ports and carry out border surveillance.

Start-up Canard Drones Access the image

Each start-up hosted at ESA BIC Madrid Region receives €50 000 in seed-funding, technical support from research institutes and industrial partners, business development support, and access to additional funding sources, international networks  from the hosting centre.

More details on the ESA BIC Madrid Region start-ups can be found here

ESA's Business Incubation Centres

Started by ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme in 2003, the business incubation initiative has now grown to 16 centres in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, UK, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Czech Republic, Ireland, Austria and Switzerland, fostering over 130 new companies every year and creating high-tech jobs throughout Europe.

ESA BIC Madrid Region: four incubation sitesAccess the image

Three new centres are planned to open later this year in Finland, Norway and Estonia, bringing the total up to 19 ESA BICs in 16 countries with 35 incubator locations to foster start-ups developing innovative solutions based on space technology for non-space as well as for space programmes.

The initiative benefits from space technology and expertise in order to generate new businesses and jobs in Europe. This also boosts local economies and improves Europe’s competitiveness. Thanks to these start-ups and their entrepreneurs, leading-edge technologies and expertise from Europe’s space programmes are used to create solutions here on Earth.

More on ESA BIC Madrid Region here.

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