Science and Technology Facilities Council
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ESA Business Incubation Centre Harwell

The European Space Agency seeks entrepreneurs with innovative ideas for using space technology, applications and services in a non-space environment. ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs) can assist you in getting your project off the ground by providing technical expertise and business development support.

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The ESA Business Incubation Centres are designed to create new business opportunities and jobs for non-space companies and broaden the market for space industry by translating space technologies, applications and services into viable business ideas in the non-space marketplace.


The ESA Technology Transfer Programme Office coordinates five ESA BICs throughout Europe, which each offer technical expertise as well as advice and support with business development.

The ESA BICs are located at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESA/ESTEC) in Noordwijk, The Netherlands, at the European Space Operations Centre (ESA/ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Centre for Earth Observation (ESA/ESRIN) in Frascati, Italy, in the vicinity of the German Aerospace Centre’s (DLR) site in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, and at the ESA Harwell Centre located on the Science and Innovation Campus in Harwell, UK. Moreover, the ESA BICs are linked to a network of business incubators within Europe.

ESA BIC Harwell

The ESA BIC Harwell is located next to the ESA Harwell Centre at the world leading Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, a focal point for the UK’s rapidly growing high-tech space community.

A rich environment for sharing ideas, skills and opportunities, the Harwell Campus is home to more than 4,500 researchers, engineers and innovators from more than 150 organisations across many scientific and high-tech sectors. The ESA BIC Harwell is managed by STFC Innovations Limited, the technology transfer office of one of Europe’s largest multi-discipline scientific organisations - the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

The ESA BIC Harwell has specialist capabilities in innovation, exploration and instrumentation, as well as expertise in areas such as earth observation, astronomy, operations, data management, advanced electronics, detectors, optics and robotics.

It also forms a key part of the space cluster at Harwell through its strong links with the developing International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC) - which brings together STFC’s space research, industry, and UK and international space agencies.

STFC Innovations Ltd has a strong track record of successfully supporting entrepreneurs and start-up companies. It manages the intellectual property (IP) and licensing of STFC’s technology into commercial ventures, as well as for the ESA Technology Transfer Network (TTN) in the UK, and provides access to a range of funding opportunities.

STFC Innovations has so far created 15 spin-out companies from STFC’s IP and licensing, with a number developed from technologies that were originally created for space.


Open Sky Technologies Fund

To further foster space-to-nonspace start-up companies, ESA has taken the initiative to promote the establishment of the Open Sky Technologies Fund, managed by Triangle Venture Group. The investment focus of the fund is placed on seed-capital investments, start-ups and early-stage growth capital for companies using space-related technologies or satellite applications in non-space fields.

Be a part of a new business dimension

The ESA BIC Harwell provides up to 10 start-up companies per year with a unique and intensive package of services and support in a high-tech, open innovation environment. This package includes:

  • Access to sources of regional, national and joint venture capital funding
  • A cash incentive scheme – with up to £40k for IP protection, design, prototyping and market studies
  • Easy access to STFC and ESA’s technical expertise, technology and IP
  • Hands-on business development support and advice, including a dedicated Company Champion
  • Access to the strategic partnership and networking opportunities available on the Harwell Campus - with close links to STFC’s RAL Space, ISIC, ESA Centre, the ESA TTN in the UK and other organisations
  • Access to STFC resources such as test facilities, laboratories and workshops – including 40 hours of free access to the Innovations Technology Access Centre (I-TAC) incubator laboratories at the Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus in Cheshire
  • Fully equipped office space and access to shared facilities

How can we help you?


Contact us if you have an innovative idea or a business plan based on using a space technology or system in a non-space environment. If you are ready for commercial development, submit your proposal to join the ESA BIC Harwell.

Space companies

Contact us to outsource the spin-off initiatives of your employees in an innovative win-win scheme.

Research Centres and Universities

Encourage your staff to set up their own companies to bring leading-edge research to the marketplace via the ESA


We’re open to your questions and ideas!

Our experts are available to answer your questions about the ESA Business Incubation Centres. Full details on how to become an incubatee within one of the ESA BICs and the application procedures can be found on the ESA BIC website (link opens in a new window).

We look forward to hearing from you!

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