ESA BIC Barcelona issues a call to incubate aerospace start-ups

ESA BIC is located in the RDIT building on the UPC Baix Llobregat Campus

ESA BIC is located in the RDIT building on the UPC Baix Llobregat Campus

The ESA BIC Barcelona incubation centre has started operating on the UPC’s Baix Llobregat Campus with a call for space technology and infrastructure start-ups. Promoted by the UPC, the Mediterranean Technology Park and the Government of Catalonia as part of the NewSpace Strategy, the programme will allow up to 18 companies to be incubated over three years.

Mar 22, 2023

The business incubation centre of the European Space Agency in Barcelona (ESA BIC Barcelona) has started operating with a call for companies under a programme promoted by the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - BarcelonaTech (UPC), the Mediterranean Technology Park and the Ministry of Business and Labour as part of the NewSpace Strategy for Catalonia. Applications for the first call must be submitted via the website before 28 March.

Located in the RDIT building on the UPC Baix Llobregat Campus in Castelldefels within the Mediterranean Technology Park (PMT), ESA BIC Barcelona was selected again in April 2022 as one of the incubators that the European Space Agency (ESA) promotes in science and technology parks across the EU to accelerate start-ups based on innovative space technologies or infrastructures.

The incubation programme promoted by the UPC, the PMT and the Government of Catalonia aims to support the creation of innovative space tech start-ups to boost Catalonia’s aerospace industry by incubating 18 companies starting this year until 2025. It has a budget of 1.8 million euros—a third of which (600,000 euros) will be provided by the Government of Catalonia—and is supported by other regional institutions: the Metròpolis Barcelona economic development agency of the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (AMB) and the Barcelona City Council (via Barcelona Activa).

Applicants must be start-ups or companies that are less than five years old and that have its headquarters or an office in Catalonia. Additionally, they must be space-related start-ups: the underlying business idea must involve space technology, the company must provide space systems in non-space markets, or it must aim to become a supplier to the space sector.

Incubation programme benefits

The companies selected for the ESA BIC Barcelona programme will receive funding of 50,000 euros, co-funded by ESA and the Government of Catalonia. They will also have access to the scientific and technical knowledge of ESA and the UPC and will be given up to 1,000 m² of office space—for common areas, coworking spaces and other modules—in the RDIT building.

They will also benefit from a mentoring, training and technical and commercial advice programme designed by the UPC with the support of Barcelona Activa and Metròpolis Barcelona, which includes business coaching and technical, legal and intellectual property advice for up to two years.

Additionally, ESA BIC Barcelona incubatees will also benefit from being connected to the UPC’s innovation ecosystem and the NewSpace Strategy for Catalonia community, from attending aerospace fairs and events, and from becoming members of the ESA BIC community, with more than 25 incubation centres located in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Ireland, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Norway, Denmark, Greece and Luxembourg.

Being connected to the University’s knowledge ecosystem will give them added value, as the UPC is Catalonia’s leader in space science and technology education and research, with state-of-the-art laboratories like the DroneLab, located on the Baix Llobregat Campus, and the NanoSat Lab, located on the North Diagonal Campus in Barcelona. The latter has played a key role in launching the first Catalan nanosatellite and a few others into space, and has contributed its expertise in defining the NewSpace Strategy for Catalonia. The UPC also has a close connection with industry and has boosted the creation of space technology-based start-ups, some of them headquartered on the Baix Llobregat Campus.

NewSpace Strategy for Catalonia
The Ministry of Business and Labour launched the ESA BIC Barcelona initiative as part of the NewSpace Strategy for Catalonia. Approved by the Government of Catalonia in October 2020, it is a programme of specific actions to strengthen the Catalan NewSpace ecosystem, lead the generation of knowledge and promote its social and business application.

By reactivating ESA BIC Barcelona, the NewSpace Strategy has now two instruments to boost the Catalan ecosystem within the new space economy: first, this incubator to promote aerospace entrepreneurship and, second, the NewSpace community of the Digital Catalan Alliance (DCA-NewSpace) to strengthen the ecosystem’s networking and access to products and services.