ESA is working to lower barriers and expand opportunities for small businesses to participate in the space industry. Future space economies in Europe will benefit from the agile and customised development provided by start-ups and small businesses.
Securing its first contract is one of the biggest worries for a firm entering the space industry. However, by 2020, over 1800 small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) that collaborated with the European Space Agency (ESA) and for EU space projects had a combined annual revenue of €3.9 billion and employed 33,000 people.
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) contribute creative thinking and effectiveness. Disruptive technology, specialised knowledge, and innovative working methods are all valued by ESA. These businesses are progressing in ESA programmes as a result. They gain the trust they require as a result to succeed. In turn, this improves the European space sector by increasing staff competence and increasing its competitiveness.
A new and specific SME Policy was adopted in 2016 by the Agency and its Member States. This was established to make it easier for SMEs to participate actively in Agency activities and to help them enter the industrial supply chain. Along with this, several Agency programme directorate initiatives are taken to provide SMEs with unique opportunities within ESA.
ESA’s Technical Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, will host the eighth Sector Space Days event on September 28–29, bringing together representatives from the European space industry. Participants in the forum will include large System Integrators, midcaps, start-ups, and SMEs to share ideas, look for possible partners, and investigate opportunities with ESA.
More than 1380 SMEs, or more than 27% of the businesses the Agency hired, have worked on ESA programmes during the past five years. About 33% of all contracts were entered into with SMEs, and they also received almost 10% of the associated obligations.