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. Are you based in NL? Then this is the ESA BIC for you.

You can apply anytime via our Permanent Open Call. We select businesses twice each year (Spring & Fall). The next selection deadline is 17 April 2023. We strongly recommend not to wait until later in the year; apply now and you will amplify your chances of joining the ESA BIC programme in 2023. Sign up to receive notification of events where you can receive helpful pointers covering the application process!

Spring application deadline: 17 April 2023

Your Timeline For Success

,In this programme, space startups get up to €50,000 zero-equity funding for the development of their idea, receive technical support by the European Space Agency (ESA) and partners, and get extensive business support by SBIC. Please read the instructions on this page before applying. In the lead up to the application deadline, there will be three info sessions (online) to provide advice for preparing your application. The next webinar, featuring inspirational success stories, is at 16:00 CET on 21 February 2023. 

ESA BIC spring 2023 banner

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 26 (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 2-year programme is managed by a local partner: Space Business Innovation Centre Noordwijk.

Why should you participate?

  • This is the ESA BIC 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 and patents

Business support

Business development support and advice

Community

Access to the international ESA Commercialisation Gateway community and SBIC alumni network

Exclusive events

Exclusive access to (international) events

Investors

Door opener to international investors
via EBAN

Training

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 training
  • Exclusive access to international events
  • Access to the international ESA Commercialisation Gateway 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 rent a spot for your company at the HQ 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

ESA BIC Application Process

Applying for ESA BIC is quite the process, so it’s important to take your time and prepare well. For a successful application, follow the steps below.

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Step 0: Commit to joining our space community

Before applying, read our blog about what we expect from you.
& consider joining the next pre-application info webinar.

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Step 1: Make contact with our team

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

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Step 2: Carefully read through all the documentation

We supply all the files in the Permanent Open Call (POC) documents. To receive a download link, click here.

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Step 3: Complete the application

Fill in the Business Application Proposal (BAP) documents:
Template Cover Letter
Template Business Plan
Template Incubation Proposal
Related appendices

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Step 4: Submit your application before the deadline

You can share your application documents at any time (no need to wait until the deadline). Please send to: application@esa-bic.nl.

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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.

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Step 6: Pitch your business plan

Present your company to the Tender Evaluation Board.

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Step 7: LIFT OFF!

The sooner you make contact with our team, the likelihood of a successful application increases. We are here to help you through the application process. Get in touch (with “ESA BIC” in the subject line) if you have questions that are not covered in the FAQ.

view of Earth and satellite from space on ESA BIC success stories webinar banner

Stay Updated

We recommend that you register your interest in ESA BIC Noordwijk by clicking the checkbox at the end our sign up form, so you receive all the “application tips” messages that get dispatched!

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the deadline exactly?

Applications are welcome until 23h59 on the deadline date.

Do I need to have participated in pre-incubation events?

No. We recommend you attend the info sessions, with tips on completing a successful application, but they aren’t obligatory.

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 Commercialisation Gateway website. to discover technology transfer applications and businesses using space technologies.

I am not developing something for the space sector but for another sector, do I still qualify as a space related startup?

Does the company’s business model rely on data or service derived from a space asset? Does it fail to operate if the space asset is not available? If yes, then it’s a “space related startup”.

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

No. The incentive (funding) can only be used for intellectual property rights (IPR) and product development. A small part of the incentive can be used for marketing.

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?

Only in exceptional circumstances, when the product cannot be found in the Netherlands. In this case, spending the incentive abroad could be possible if upfront approval from the incubation manager is received. As a general rule, the ESA BIC Noordwijk funding can only be spent in the Netherlands.

What are “support entities”?

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

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?

If 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.

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.

What are the office space costs during incubation?

As part of incubation, your business needs to be incorporated at SBIC Noordwijk and you will be part of the community. You will need to pay a reception and post box service fee.

For office space, we want your team to have at least a flex desk. For each additional founder and/or core team member, a community membership is required (giving them flex desks twice a week). It is also possible to rent a dedicated desk or a private space. Learn about all our office space options.

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 Ignition Programme. If you unsuccessful in the Spring ESA BIC application round, you may be encouraged to develop your idea further during the Summer Ignition Programme. You can then submit a new application to the Fall ESA BIC application round.

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.

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.

Incubation & Technical Partners

airbus defence and space logo
anwb logo
esa space solutions logo
high density energy storage (hdes) logo
lencon engineering logo
netherlands space office logo
rabobank logo
space4good logo
st corporation logo
studio carbon logo
zuits logo

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.