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    20 Oct 2014 
ARTES Elements
Tenders and Workplans

ESA Telecom Newcomers' Initiative Questions and Answers

What is the purpose of the ESA Telecom Newcomers' Initiative?
This initiative provides an open door for business innovation. Its goal is to support SMEs through the early development stages of researching and refining business propositions for the satcom market. SMEs that have not worked with ESA before are given the opportunity to open dialogue with us through the Newcomers' Initiative, thus giving newcomers a chance to bring their innovative ideas to fruition.

The aim of the Newcomers' Initiative is to ensure that at the conclusion of the project, companies are in a position to market their proposal commercially.

Who is eligible?
The Newcomers' Initiative is available to any SMEs from a country participating in this initiative, and is a newcomer to ESA. At this point of time, these countries include: Austria (A), Belgium (B), Denmark (DK), France (F) (from 2009 onwards), Germany (D), Greece (GR), Ireland(IRL), Luxembourg(LUX), The Netherlands(NL), Norway(N), Portugal (P), Spain(E), Switzerland (CH) and Sweden (S).

SMEs are defined as companies that have fewer than 250 employees, have either an annual turnover of less than €50 million or an annual balance sheet total of less than €43 million, and are independently owned (not more than 25% owned by a larger company). This is based on European Commission criteria.

What kind of proposals are of interest to ESA Telecom?
ESA Telecom will consider supporting activities that deal with product development, integration and demonstration activities based on existing technologies and tailored to pre-operational products, systems and applications/services in a pre-competitive environment.

The activities proposed must be relevant for the satellite telecommunications sector and have to include the satcom component as an essential element of the proposition: space-borne equipment, ground segment, application/services involving telecommunication satellites.

A wide range of ideas will be considered: Integrated Internet devices, 'user interface' peripherals, gateways and teleports, remote terminals, software modules and location-based communication applications, satcom services, or any other area of satcom innovation.

How does a company submit a proposal for the ESA Telecom Newcomers' Initiative?
This consists of two steps. First, download, complete, and submit via email the Outline Proposal Form, which clearly indicates the requirements for your proposal. It ensures that ESA receives sufficiently detailed proposals, allowing a proper first assessment of the idea with regards to the technological approach as well as the commercial environment. This template can be found on the telecommunications website at

The information that has to be provided includes the description of the identified business opportunity, the role of satcom, the proposed solution and project content, company background and experience, cost/price, duration, contact information and SME status.

Once an outline proposal has been accepted, the SME will then be invited to submit a complete proposal, the second step in the process. A set of tender documents detail the requirements for the complete proposal, and is available on ESA's Electronic Tender System EMITS under call number: AO5658 "ESA TELECOM NEWCOMERS' INITIATIVE - CALL FOR PROPOSALS". This proposal will be subject to a complete evaluation. A positive evaluation usually results in a recommendation for a contract award.

When can a company submit an outline proposal?
The process will use an 'open call for proposals' structure, allowing companies to submit proposals at any time during the year. By using this Invitation to Tender (ITT) process, ESA Telecom will be able to review each proposal on an individual basis, allowing us to give each proposal our full attention. Because of this, proposals are not part of a competitive process, but are dealt with in direct negotiation mode.

What about confidentiality of submitted ideas and proposals?
At ESA Telecom we work every day on development activities within the satellite communication area which is a highly competitive environment. As such, all ideas and proposals of this initiative will be treated as strictly confidential.

Outline Proposals will be submitted through a secure website application and will be treated in confidence. A copy of the Outline Proposals will be distributed to the respective National Delegations.

All proposals will be treated in confidence and will only be seen by the ESA Evaluation Team and the respective National Delegation.

How does ESA deal with Intellectual Property Rights?
In principle, for all ESA activities the Intellectual Property Rights stay with the companies that have developed them. This is reinforced within the co-funded activities and manifested in our 'General Clauses and Conditions for ESA contracts'.

How long does the process take?
ESA attempts to work within a time frame of three months from outline proposal submission to contract award.

Are there other entities involved besides ESA?
Representatives of our Member States (National Delegations) are part of the approval process and are very interested in this initiative. We always keep very close contact with them. At the point of submission of the Outline Proposal, companies will be informed if there are specific national requirements that need to be met.

What kind of support will companies receive once they begin the process?
In many cases companies need detailed guidance especially when they have not had contracts with ESA Telecom before. To serve that purpose, we will be open for dialogue with companies during the whole process, including prior to submission of outline proposals. We are prepared to discuss potential ideas right up to full proposal preparation.

The Newcomers' Initiative allows elaboration on the essence of an idea in cooperation with the companies before making the final decision to go ahead or not. Because we are open to discuss potential ideas before the outline proposal is submitted we are able to gain further information with the company. This structure makes sure interesting ideas will not be lost.

Explain the funding structure.
The funding structure will be limited to co-funded activities to a maximum of €200,000 equivalent to 50% or less the cost of the activity. This means that project costs are allowed to exceed €400,000, but ESA only would fund up to €200,000. This limitation is triggered by the indication from a number of Member States to support only co-funded activities in order to challenge the commercial orientation of the companies.


Last Update: 01 Apr 2014
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