How ESA Accelerates Technology Transfer from Space Exploration to Earth and Vice Versa

Launching rockets and satellites, exploring space, monitoring the Earth and driving Europe’s flagship space programmes Galileo and Copernicus. That is most commonly associated with the European Space Agency (ESA). But did you know that ESA has a large network of brokers that facilitates the transfer of technologies and know-how from space to terrestrial applications? Or that ESA directly supports startup business through its extensive ESA Business Incubation Centre (BIC) network?

ESA Technology Transfer Programme

The entrepreneurial spirit is the common motivation and connects all people involved to improve our daily lives with innovation. This is the fuel for creating benefits for humankind through forward-thinking businesses. What else does it take to provide the breeding ground for high-tech, space-related entrepreneurs and create successful businesses all across Europe?

The ESA Technology Transfer Programme (TTP) consists of three core assets forming a unique network, managed by the ESA Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO) to support such technology transfers and startups:

  • The ESA Business Incubation Centres (BICs) work to inspire entrepreneurs to turn space-connected business ideas into commercial companies, provide technical expertise and business-development support
  • The ESA technology brokers across Europe assess the market needs in areas where there is a potential for exploitation of space technologies
  • ESA Intellectual Property Rights (IPs) incorporate significant commercial potential for non-space applications and respective industries.

The ESA Brokers scout for opportunities of practical uses of space technologies in non-space areas. The ESA BICs spread all over Europe support selected entrepreneurs with comprehensive commercial and technical assistance, to help them boost their businesses that apply space technology to non-space industrial, scientific and commercial fields.

Cold Plasma – Healing Wounds Space Style

The startup terraplasma medical is an outstanding example of technology transfer. Most common associations with plasma include lightning, a candle or the sun. Beside the very hot aggregate state, there is another version which is way cooler and can be modified for special purposes: Cold plasma.

The ESA BIC Bavaria incubatee terraplasma medical develops a mobile, battery operated medical device, the plasma care, for ambulant and stationary treatment of chronic and acute wounds with cold plasma which very efficiently inactivates even multi-resistant bacteria. What is the technology transfer? Experiments with cold plasma have been conducted many years aboard the ISS. terraplasma medical further developed this highly effective, fast and painless product and brought its benefits from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) down to Earth into the health care sector. Since April plasma care is a registered trademark at the European Union Intellectual Property Office.

Current customers of the plasma care are clinics (dermatology, surgery and angiology), wound centers, registered doctors (dermatologists, diabetologists, etc.), as well as stationary and mobile nursing services. But if you think about the future – especially in terms of deep space exploration –, such applications of cold plasma could for instance become very useful in reaching destinations and treating the pioneers on their way beyond our imagination.

These kind of technology transfer cases and similar ones ESA is unaware of are exactly what the ESA Technology Transfer Success Prize of the Space Exploration Masters innovation competition is looking for.

SIGN UP NOW! Technology transfers from space exploration to Earth and vice versa benefit from great advantages.

Another extremely successful and disruptive businesses that benefitted from comprehensive commercial and technical assistance of the ESA BIC network is located in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, the space village near Munich.

The World’s First Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Jet – an ESA BIC Alumni

One prime example of how startups benefit from ESA BIC support is Lilium with the vision of developing the world’s first commercial VTOL jet. The startup was part of ESA BIC Bavaria – one of Europe’s most successful space business incubators with 107 supported startups, generating over EUR 140 million annual turnover. To give you one impressive exemplary benefit provided by ESA BIC (next to technical and business support and lots more): The ESA BIC Bavaria alumni’s article on ESA’s website got high attention and all kinds of media and stakeholders to know them all around the world. Today, this article about Lilium was viewed almost 66.000 times.

By the end of this year, Lilium is expecting to grow to a team of more than 100 employees, secured EUR 10.7 million in funding and was able to acquire experts from high-tech ventures such as Tesla and Airbus. In April, they accomplished a series of unmanned flight tests in Germany.

Do you want your business case to skyrocket just like terraplasma medical and Lilium did? Then sign up now for ESA’s Technology Transfer Success prize.

Technology Transfer Success Prize by ESA

This award of the Space Exploration Masters – Europe’s first innovation competition dedicated to space exploration – identifies the best transfer from the ESA Technology portfolio for space exploration to a non-space application.

Take the perfect opportunity for your space exploration related business case:

  • EUR 10,000 value cash prize for the idea holder of the best technology transfer
  • Winner* will be on stage with ESA
  • Certificate of recognition: Technology Transfer Master Award
  • Dedicated press release on ESA’s website:
  • Business case* promotion to an international audience & markets

* Idea holder and submitting entity


The European Space Agency (ESA) is looking for the best business case related to a successfully accomplished technology transfer in line with the goals of the Agency’s space exploration, led by ESA to non-space applications. Traditionally, technology transfer is the process of using technology, expertise, know-how or facilities for specific purposes not originally intended for space exploration. This permits the identification of multi-purpose opportunities as well as the continuous enhancement of technology based on non-space sector feedback such as real market feedback.

Those technology transfer cases, so far unknown to ESA, should be innovative and disruptive, and show a tangible business performance in matching one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Have a look at all the topic-specific challenges:

About the Space Exploration Masters

In 2017, AZO has launched the Space Exploration Masters on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA) and in line with the goals of the ESA Space Exploration Strategy, in cooperation with strong world-class partners. The Space Exploration Masters is an international competition to identify best technology transfer business successes, as well as to empower and foster business innovation around space exploration activities in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), on the Moon, Mars, or beyond – for the benefit of society and Earth.

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