Sustainable Funding Provided for German Space Start-ups

  • Funding for the German ESA Business Incubation Centers (BIC) has been secured for a further four years.
  • Funding for the incubation program will be increased by almost 70 percent to a total of 11.6 million euros.
  • By 2025, the program will have grown to 13 locations in seven federal states.

BERLIN, Germany (DLR PR) — The financial future of the German ESA Business Incubation Centers (BIC) is secured in the coming years: As part of the ESA Investor Forum, which took place from May 16 to 17, 2022 in Berlin, Luca del Monte, Head of Commercialization at the European Space Agency (ESA) and Dr. Walther Pelzer, Member of the DLR Executive Board and Head of the German Space Agency at DLR, the extension of the funding for a further four years was announced. The funding will also be increased by around 70 percent. The aim of the incubation centers is to support the commercial use of space technologies and satellite-based services in non-space markets (spin-off) and the use of new technologies in space (spin-in).

“Promoting high technology, innovation and commercialization in the space sector is a central task of the German Space Agency at DLR,” explains Dr. Walter Pelzer. “The ESA Business Incubation Centers have established themselves as an important element of the innovation ecosystem of German space travel in recent years. I am therefore particularly pleased that we will be able to support almost twice as many young companies in the implementation of their visions over the next four years .”

11.6 million euros for the realization of innovative business ideas

Compared to the previous contractual period, funding for the incubation program has been increased by almost 70 percent to a total of 11.6 million euros. In the next four years, around 300 young companies will be supported by the ESA BICs in realizing their innovative space-related business ideas. In the two-year incubation program, start-ups receive financial and infrastructural support, mentoring, management support and access to a comprehensive network.

“Due to future-oriented product ideas and new business models, start-ups are a key driver for the NewSpace sector,” explains Dr. Pelzer. “Especially in this area, it is important to develop future technologies with German start-ups and to ensure Germany’s international competitiveness as a space location.” 

Half of the financial support for business start-ups comes from German contributions to the ESA program and half from funds from the federal states in which BIC locations are located.

Local partners from industry and science are available for technical support in order to assist companies in various specialist areas in the development of their services and products. The incubation centers are anchored in the regions and ensure the sustainable development of industry and research there. Overall, the ESA BICs in Germany have contributed to the creation of more than 4,200 high-tech jobs so far and the 356 start-ups supported to date have generated sales of more than 300 million euros.

By 2025, the program will have grown to 13 locations in seven federal states

“We can already see today that space travel-based company start-ups generate new impulses, innovations and future-oriented technologies for space travel itself, but also for a large number of other sectors of the economy,” says Dr. Franziska Zeitler, head of the Innovation and New Markets department at the German Space Agency at DLR. “This is a good reason for the German Space Agency to use its contribution to the ESA program to invest in the promotion of new business start-ups. The sustained success of the German ESA-BIC is also due to the close cooperation with the participating federal states and their financial commitment.”

Since the first BIC locations were founded in Bavaria and Hesse in 2004 and 2007, the space incubation network in Germany has grown to seven locations in four federal states by the end of 2021. Thanks to the budget increase until 2025, the program will continue to grow to 13 locations in seven federal states. The German contributions to the ESA-BIC program are funded by the German Space Agency at DLR and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK).