New Contract Secures Funds for Bavarian Space Startups

The European Space Agency (ESA) is extending its successful collaboration with AZO Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen for the ESA Business Incubation Centre Bavaria and expanding its scope. The contract secures funding for the incubation programme, which is implemented together with ESA, the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy, and the German Space Agency at DLR. Starting 2022, ESA BIC Bavaria will expand to two new locations and offer an advanced range of technical expertise for a further 80 incubatees.

The European Space Agency (ESA) and AZO have signed a new contract extending their successful cooperation for the ESA Business Incubation Centre Bavaria. The four-year-contract ensures funding for continuous incubation support for 80 startups using space technology and enables an expansion to a total of five locations in Bavaria. Next to three existing locations, ESA BIC Bavaria will now also foster innovation in Wuerzburg in collaboration with the Technology Start-up Centre (Technologie und Gründerzentrum), the related Centre for Telematics (Zentrum f. Telematik) and Breunig Aerospace, as well as Neubiberg, cooperating with the Universität der Bundeswehr München. A corresponding agreement was signed by ESA Director General, Dr Josef Aschbacher, and AZO CEO, Thorsten Rudolph.

Figure 1: Map of current and new locations of ESA BIC Bavaria; copyright: AZO

ESA BIC Bavaria already offers full-service incubation support at three locations with its technical partners in Oberpfaffenhofen (DLR), Nuremberg (Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, IIS) and Ottobrunn (Airbus Defence and Space). The new locations in Neubiberg and Wuerzburg add advanced expertise to the already broad scope of technical service offered. The incubation programme now includes five major aerospace industry locations in Bavaria and incubated start-ups will benefit from hands-on technical expertise as well as financial and business support.

This first European space incubator was founded by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) with the support of the Free State of Bavaria in 2001. The incubator has been operated by AZO since 2004 and transitioned into ESA BIC Bavaria in 2009. For nearly 18 years, ESA BIC Bavaria and its predecessor programme have been promoting up-and downstream market development for space technologies and applications. Now, ESA BIC Bavaria is the most successful ESA BIC in Europe. AZO is also implementing two other ESA BICs in Germany and aims to continue and extend this collaboration.

Minister-President of the Free State of Bavaria, Dr Markus Söder: “It is now 20 years since the first European space incubator was founded, with significant financial support of the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs. By now, the ESA BIC Bavaria incubation programme has created more than 3,300 high-tech jobs in the region. It is our aim to make the Bavarian economy fit for the future, which is why we foster future oriented companies with innovative ideas in the space sector.”

Minister of the Free State of Bavaria for Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy, Hubert Aiwanger: “The ESA BIC Bavaria incubation programme is a success story within Bavarian startup funding, with over 200 startups in the field of space-related applications. This why we are now taking things a stage further. In collaboration with ESA, the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs is expanding the funding so that a total of 80 startups can be supported in the next four years. This strengthens the incubation programme for the future, allowing it to remain an important component in realising pioneering, innovative business ideas.”

ESA Director General, Dr Josef Aschbacher: “Our ESA BICs are turning space-connected business ideas into commercial companies all across Europe. We are thrilled by their success and happy to advance up-and downstream space applications in Europe and the world with our new Directorate for Commercialisation, Industry and Procurement (CIP). Together with the ESA Space Solutions network, we will continue to provide technical expertise and business-development support to clever minds with great ideas.”

Member of the Executive Board of the German Space Agency at DLR, Dr Walther Pelzer: “The German Space Agency at DLR has the proclaimed goal of promoting innovation and fostering development in the space sector throughout Germany and connecting science with business. Incubators like ESA BIC Bavaria are proof that continuous commitment and engagement achieve great economic success as well as adding value to local communities. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with AZO in Oberpfaffenhofen.”

CEO of AZO, Thorsten Rudolph: “Since 2004, we have supported over 200 incubatees, raising a total of EUR 1.4 bn in investments – a huge achievement. I am delighted that we will continue on this successful path by evolving our scope of services thanks to our incredible partner network and close collaboration with ESA, DLR and the Free State of Bavaria. We are looking forward to great collaborations and accomplishments in the future with our new locations!”

ESA BIC Bavaria is based in Oberpfaffenhofen and was the fourth of now 23 ESA BICs in Europe, founded in 2009 in its current form.

Laura Kauffmann is Communications Manager at AZO with an international track record in tech&science communication and project management. She is specialised in developing multi-channel thought leadership campaigns and content creation for different projects.

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