Press Release

ESA: Turning space technology into business

By SpaceRef Editor
September 23, 2009
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For the fifth time, ESA hosted this month the one-week CEMS kick-off seminar for students from leading European management schools to learn about technology transfer and what it takes to turn space technology breakthroughs into viable non-space businesses.

Organised by ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office in cooperation with ESA Human Spaceflight’s Erasmus Centre as well as the Rotterdam School of Management Erasmus University (RSM), the Community of European Management Schools (CEMS) seminar gives students the chance to work with space technology and to discover its exploitation potential.

CEMS is a strategic alliance of leading European business schools and multinational companies and its first mission is to set a global standard of excellence for university master students in business management.

The students were divided into competing teams, each given a space technology patent, this year offered by Dutch Space, that they had to commercialise for non-space applications through a spin-off venture set up for that purpose. They had to prepare a feasible business plan and present the results at the end of the week to a jury.

During the week, the students were given lectures on entrepreneurship, technology transfer and new venture creation, and they were supported by the RSM faculty, ESA staff and experts from industry, including business developers from Dutch Space.

Participating student Elmy Sarruco said, “it was a lot of hard work, but we had a great team. Although we met here for the first time, we quickly noticed we complemented each other well for this collaborative project. We had several good ideas, and we were eager to make a successful business case. I’m happy we succeeded, even in view of the enormous time pressure.”

Niels Eldering, Technology Transfer Officer at ESA and member of the jury, commented, “space business is very international, as well as entrepreneurial. The European space community requires business and technical professionals to work together on a daily basis, especially when it concerns exploitation of space based technologies in new markets. These CEMS students proved to be capable of doing just that. They really came up with bright, unexpected ideas.”

The technology from Dutch Space was to analyse bacteria in space and the winning team defined a profitable niche market in the food process industry. Their business plan would result in a positive cash flow in just five years.

ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO)

The main mission of the TTPO is to facilitate the use of space technology and space systems for non-space applications and to demonstrate the benefit of the European space programme to European citizens. The office is responsible for defining the overall approach and strategy for the transfer of space technologies, including the incubation of start-up companies and their funding. For more information, please contact:

ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office
European Space Agency ESA
Keplerlaan 1, 2200 AG, Noordwijk ZH
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0) 71 565 6208
Email: ttp @

SpaceRef staff editor.