The ESA Start-up Competition

What is it all about?

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

One of these programmes is this one-time ESA Start-up Competition. It aims to give visibility to the eligible start-up companies in the space sector, enabling the winners to benefit from ESA’s technical expertise and assistance. Submissions closed on 3 May 2020. The evaluation phase is currently ongoing.


You must be a commercial company duly incorporated and operating under the laws of one of ESA’s Member States. The date of your incorporation is after 1st January 2015

You must have a registered office and main facilities (i.e. where business decisions are made and/or where the products and services are developed) in an ESA Member State

You must have a majority in a shareholder’s company incorporated and operating under the laws of one of ESA’s Member States or be a natural person that is a national of such countries

You must develop products and services for the space sector, whether for upstream or downstream

You must have a business volume that does not exceed EUR 5,000,000.00 (five million) for the 2018 tax year

You must employ (this means having engaged under an employment contract) a minimum of 2 (two) and a maximum of 15 (fifteen) employees (incl. founder/s)

The products and services you offer must be for peaceful purposes only (not for military use)

Further information is provided in the ESA General Terms & Conditions.

Selection criteria

ESA, by itself or with the assistance of third-party experts, currently evaluates the submitted applications as concerns the innovative character of their products and services for space. We will also take into account how it can contribute to addressing challenges posed within the context of ESA’s space activities or how it can contribute to maximising the use of space technology and space generated assets in the lives of the citizens of ESA Member States:

The following criteria will be taken into consideration:

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