ESA Business Incubation Centre

ESA BIC is the business incubation programme of the European Space Agency. It is the best place for entrepreneurs to realise their innovative business ideas based on space technology or data.

You can apply anytime via our Permanent Open Call. We select businesses twice each year (Spring & Fall). The 2022 Fall selection deadline is October 12. If you want, you can get notified of new deadlines via email.

Fall 2022 application deadline: October 12

Discover your space at ESA BIC

ESA BIC Noordwijk offers technical, business and financial support to startups that use space technology for terrestrial applications.

ESA BIC Noordwijk is part of a network of 22 (and counting) ESA BICs across Europe, which were established to empower entrepreneurship and to allow local economies to benefit from space data and technologies. The programme is managed by a local partner: Space Business Innovation Centre Noordwijk.

Why should you participate?

  • It’s thé hub for commercialisation of space technology in The Netherlands
  • It helps you go from idea to prototype or market introduction
  • You’ll work in an innovative, high-tech entrepreneurial environment
  • You are close to ESA’s biggest R&D facility, ESTEC

What do you get?

Technical support

Up to 80 hours of Technical Support (from the European Space Agency and/or partners)

Zero-equity funding

Up to € 50.000 Incentive Funding for product development & patents

Business support

Business development support and advice


Access to the international ESA Space Solutions community and SBIC alumni network

Exclusive events

Exclusive access to (international) events


Door opener to international investors via EBAN


Workshops, seminars and training courses

International exposure

Use the ESA BIC brand to boost your business

Successful incubations

Technical support hours


of businesses still exist today

What are the benefits of joining ESA BIC?

  • Incentive Funding up to € 50.000 for product development and IPR
  • Up to 80 hours Technical Support through ESA
  • Business development support, advice and coaching
  • IP Consulting
  • Exclusive access workshops, seminars and trainings
  • Exclusive access to international events
  • Access to the international ESA Space Solutions community
  • Preferred access to office facilities, experts, suppliers and investment capital

What fields of application are possible?

  • Satellite navigation / mobile services
  • Earth observation
  • Mobility (road – sea – air)
  • Satellite communication
  • Agriculture
  • Energy
  • Robotics / Mechatronics
  • Materials
  • Environmental monitoring

Who can apply?

  • You have an innovative (and validated) idea based on space technology or data
  • Your company is not older than 5 years or needs to be founded yet
  • You don’t have a prototype or market introduction yet
  • You are a citizen of an ESA member state and are resident in The Netherlands
  • For non-ESA member state citizens: you have a working permit or startup visa, and are resident in The Netherlands
  • You are willing to locate your company headquarters at the offices of SBIC Noordwijk

What alumni say about ESA BIC Noordwijk:

ESA BIC Noordwijk creates an environment where the community is really important. All other businesses can learn from each other and that’s something I really liked about it. Next to that, the sessions with experts they hosted were all relevant.

Arjan Tabak

Managing Director, Sensar

The ESA BIC brand is great for building trust and relations – it’s a seal of approval within the sector basically. 

Kartik Kumar

CEO & co-founder, satsearch

On paper, building a space business seems simple, but it isn’t. With the right support, from friends, family, employees and SBIC, I am sure you can make it to the finish and start to make some impact if you persevere. As an alumnus, Lens R&D is proud to be associated with ESA BIC Noordwijk!

Johan Leijtens

Founder & Systems Engineer, Lens R&D

The ESA BIC application process

Applying for ESA BIC is quite the process, so it’s important that you start on time. For a successful application, follow the steps described below.


Step 0: Read our blog on community commitment

Before applying, read our blog about what we expect from you.

Step 1: Contact

Meet Martijn Leinweber or Gerard Hegemans for an informal introduction.
Schedule your appointment now!


Step 2: Download & read the open call

Download & read the Permanent Open Call documents.


Step 3: Complete the application

By filling in the following Business Application Proposals (BAP)
Template Cover Letter
Template Business Plan
Template Incubation Proposal
Related appendices

Step 4: Submit within the deadline

Send all required documents to

Step 5: Wait for confirmation

All proposals are first reviewed on formal requirements by the Tender Opening Board. This will be done within a week after the application deadline.


Step 6: Pitch your business plan

Present your company to the Tender Evaluation Board.

Step 7: LIFT OFF!

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the deadline exactly?

You can submit your application on the deadline date until 23h59.

Which reference number should I use in the application?

You can come up with your own – just like an invoice number.

How do I know if my product or service needs space technology and where can I find space technology?

The space link is a very important requirement in order to join the ESA BIC.

For investigating patents, please take a look at the ESA’s Space IP. Or check the ESA Technology Transfer page. Here you can find some businesses using space technologies.

May the funding from the ESA BIC Noordwijk Programme be used to pay salaries, or rent for office space?

No. The incentive can only be used for IPR and product development. A small part of the incentive can be used for marketing.

What are the costs for office space while being incubated?

As part of incubation, your business needs to be incorporated here. That’s why we will ask for a reception and post box service fee.
For office space, we want the persons to be here to have at least a flex desk. For each additional founder and/or core team member, we at least require a community membership (this will get them to use flex desks twice a week). Learn about all our office space options.

What do I need to know when I move to the Netherlands?

You can find more information about daily life, work and immigration on the Welcome to NL website.

What are ‘support entities’?

Support entities are companies, governments or knowledge institutes who are supporting you, with expertise and/or money.

The manufacturer for our prototype is in another country, and the product is already being designed. Can the funding still be used to finance the development?

This can only be done, in high exception, when the product can not be found in the Netherlands. In general, spending the incentive abroad can only be done with upfront approval from the Incubation Manager. As a general rule, the ESA BIC Noordwijk grant can only be spent in The Netherlands.

What’s the programme outline?

We offer you general and tailored business, financial and technical support. But you make your own planning through the creation of several Work Packages. It’s up to you to create a feasible outline, and be open to suggestions from the ESA BIC Noordwijk team and network partners.

What happens after I applied?

After you applied, and your application meets the basic requirements, you will receive an invitation within a week. Then you will give a presentation to the Tender Evaluation Board (TEB) which will be held around three weeks after the deadline. The results of the TEB will be given to you within three weeks. If you are selected you will receive an invitation for negotiations regarding the ESA BIC Noordwijk programme.

I don’t have a startup visa yet. Can I still apply?

Yes, but as a startup visa facilitator, we can only support you in getting one when we have a signed incubation contract with you and your business.

Why is it mandatory to have parts of the team permanently located in Noordwijk during incubation?

In our vision, an incubator is more than just a place to work. It is also a hub to meet other entrepreneurs and partners, to share knowledge and attend events. When you’re here, collaboration with us and other community members is easy. We believe face-to-face contact is the way to go. That’s why we ask (and strongly encourage) you and your team to be present in Noordwijk at least two days per week. This applies to at least the founding team. We want more than ‘50% of the shares’ present so we can communicatie with the decision makers in meetings for instance.

Which companies are in the Tender Evaluation Board?

The TEB consists of ESA, NSO and SBIC Noordwijk and is sometimes assisted by our incubation partners Rabobank, ANWB and Zuits, as well as other network partners. We do not disclose the people and organisations involved beforehand.

How can I improve my chances on getting selected?

When your business is too early stage, we recommend go to an accelerator programme first, like PLNT. When you already have a business and want to make sure you and ESA are a good match: enter our pre-incubation programme, the Ignition Programme.

Incubation & Technical partners

Lift off your business!

Give your space business the edge it needs. Apply to ESA BIC Noordwijk.

You can always book a meeting for an introduction to the programme.