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ESA: Enabling Innovation Through Funding

22 September 2022

With the much-anticipated launch of Artemis 1, eyes around the world are yet again focused on space and all of the opportunities that it has to offer. The fragility of life on Earth is more apparent than ever, so it is little wonder that there seems to be renewed desire and momentum to find out more about Earth, its immediate environment, the Solar System and the Universe. 


There has been a significant increase in investment in startup space companies in recent years coupled with a whole host of innovation to help the industry maximize the opportunities that this presents. As we discussed in a previous blog, new technologies are reshaping not only how we use space, but also how services are being delivered to consumers. Naturally, developing satellite technology and services is a fundamental part of space development, and without the likes of the European Space Agency (ESA) and other funding organisations, innovation would undoubtedly be stifled. 


Promoting innovation


ESA plays an important role is promoting innovation. It is dedicated to the exploration of space and exists to develop Europe’s space capability, while ensuring that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to industry and citizens. It fulfils an enabling and supporting role, providing guidance, and promoting innovation through funding provision. 


For a startup to move from the point of researching a great idea, through to developing a prototype, testing, then launching, investment is needed for each stage.  It can be particularly difficult for startups to get investors for prototype development and testing stages. This is because, typically, there is less risk in investing in a finished, proven product. This is why funding from ESA and other similar funding organisations is so crucial in ensuring ongoing innovation in the space and satellite industry. They help to plug the funding gap in the early stages of the process, where private investors are less inclined to commit or as an additional input alongside those investors.


Case in point: QuadSAT


QuadSAT is a venture-backed tech company and has raised more than €4.6 million in total funding since inception. Some of our funding has come from ESA. 


After coming up with the initial idea as part of a university product, through securing funding, we have gone on to develop a drone-based system for test and verification of radio frequency equipment. The system consists of state-of-the-art drone technology integrated with a custom RF payload as well as automation and measurement software. This means it is fully automated, flexible and location independent.


In 2021, we partnered with ESA in a €300,000 development project and earlier this year, it was awarded €500,000 by ESA under ARTES Core Competitiveness programme. The additional funding has enabled us to continue the successfully concluded technology phase and enter into the product phase development project. Without the type of funding made available by ESA, QuadSAT and other innovators out there will undoubtedly find it much more difficult to get their ideas off the ground. 


Visit QuadSAT at ESA’s Industry Space Days event 2022


This year, ESA is holding its tenth Industry Space Days (ISD) event on 28th – 29th September at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. The event is a great opportunity for small and medium companies to introduce and promote innovative ideas, products and services. 


We are excited to be exhibiting at the event and is looking forward to showing how our ground-breaking drone technology is optimising satellite ground segments through providing high-quality, on-site testing. Get in touchto find out more. 


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