Prague is a city that is known for its beautiful cultural heritage as well as groups of partying tourists – but this week it was the scene of a different kind of event: the bi-annual ESA BIC/Broker Meeting.

Twice per year, the whole Space Solutions community gets together – once at ESA ESTEC in Noordwijk and once in another European city. This time, the event was smoothly coordinated by CzechInvest, which manages the ESA BIC in Prague and (since this week) Brno.

Representatives from all 18 ESA BICs and Brokers traveled to the Czech capital to get to know each other (better), exchange experiences, and help each other to improve their programs.

BIC-Broker Meeting in Prague – (c) SA Tecnopolo

Exponential growth

One thing that was immediately noticeable was how fast the network has been growing. Only three years ago, the representatives from just 9 countries all knew each other by sight. Now, name badges were necessary to help people remember the names of almost 100 participants from 16 countries.

This also shows the power of the network: for any startup in the program, any contact in most European countries is just one or two phone calls away.

Several more European countries have expressed interest in opening their own ESA BIC, and ESA has even received expressions of interest from outside the continent. So our network will keep growing!

Prime Broker Verhaert presents the Access to Space campaign results – (c) Verhaert

Best practices

During the two conference days, participants discussed various aspects of the Space Solutions program, such as the incubation contract, new EU privacy regulations, and which international events and networks we should be part of as a collective. The Brokers presented cases of successful technology transfers between companies, while the BICs showed off their new incubatees and highlights from the alumni network.

Although it is not always easy, we do try to keep in touch with all of our alumni. Some startups do not make it, but many grow into successful businesses, hire new employees, attract big investments or are purchased by bigger companies. And of course, we love boasting about such results. Keep an eye on the Space Solutions website to see which milestones our community reaches next.