ESA Call for Ideas – Generating value to Society from Research in Space

The International Space Station (ESA/NASA)

The European Space Agency (ESA) is inviting public and commercial organisations from ESA Member States to propose ideas and suggestions for commercial and application-driven utilisation of the International Space Station (ISS) and the other space environment facilities, e.g. sounding rockets, parabolic flights, bedrest studies, etc. The aim is to generate ideas leading to new products and/or services that will create businesses and generate commercial opportunities.

The Call for Ideas on the “Commercially-Driven Research in Space” is being organised under ESA’s Business Applications together with the European Exploration Envelope Programme (E3P) of the Agency.

This joint initiative calls for commercially-driven proposals for utilising ISS, and (if required) to exploit research results stemming from ISS and ground-based space analogues in preparation (e.g. sounding rocket, parabolic flights, drop towers, bed-rest studies). Selected projects would be advanced through three existing mechanisms as shown in – Figure 1- below:

  • Assessment of the business plan and market potential, via a Business Applications Feasibility Study;
  • Implementation of the research and development project via E3P Programme;
  • Pre-commercial demonstration of derived products / services via a Business Applications Demonstration Project.


The submitted ideas will provide the option to trigger proposals applicable for the full or, depending on the maturity of the proposal, for a partial (e.g. only Phase 2 and 3) implementation cycle. Proposed ideas would be selected on their potentials to successfully pass the final phase.
The submissions will be reviewed by ESA to identify the most promising candidates. ESA may then enter into direct negotiation with the successful candidates.

Proposing consortiums may consider the use of ESA owned ISS utilization facilities or those operated by ESA commercial Partners.

Projects shall be proposed and coordinated by consortiums, led by industrial players partnering with academic and research entities.
New concepts, capabilities, and a new culture are required in order to respond to a multitude of public and private needs from those actors who are not familiar with space systems, and this Call for Ideas is targeted especially at such actors.

Due to exceptional demand the deadline has been extended. Ideas in response to this call should be submitted to ESA ( not later than 4 September 2018, 23.59 CEST.

ESA will provide responses to all submitting consortia not later than end September 2018.

ESA did organise an “Innovation Exchange on Commercialise space research” on 4 June 2018 (/esa-innovation-exchange-when-newspace-explores-earth/).

Call for Ideas: Call for Ideas on Commercially driven Research in Space

Activity pitch questionnaire: Activity pitch questionnaire