ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO) has initiated its Business Incubation Centres (BICs) to work with and inspire entrepreneurs to turn space-connected business ideas into commercial start-ups companies. At the centres, the entrepreneurs are supported with technical expertise and business-development support. The Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO) coordinates ESA’s seven Business Incubation Centres (BICs) in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, UK and Belgium. The BICs assists entrepreneurs and young companies to use space technologies and knowhow in innovative new products and services in non-space fields and also provide advice and support with business development. By the end of 2017, 18 ESA BICs in 15 European countries supported 140 start-ups. Over 500 new start-ups have been fostered creating thousands of new jobs and boosted regional economies while several more ESA BICs are under preparation.
The ESA BIC in Bavaria, Germany, was founded in 2009 and is managed by Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen (AZO). Together with its partners, the centre offers business start-up support and technical expertise in many space related areas, including satellite navigation, data systems, robotics and software systems. The ESA BIC Bavaria has business incubation offices in four locations in the region: the Oberpfaffenhofen headquarters and the branch offices in Nürnberg, Berchtesgadener Land and Ottobrunn. The Excelsior team visited the headquarters in Oberpfaffenhofen on March 22, 2018 and met with Thorsten Rudolph, Stefanie Hermann and Daniela Dobreva-Nielsen (Figure 15). Mr Rudolph, who is the CEO of the Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen, presented the activities of the ESA BIC. He agreed to discuss the opportunities through Excelsior to proceed with an ESA BIC in the Eastern Med region in the near future through ERC in order to foster and boost the earth observation sector and local and regional economy. The scientific expertise and development network of ESA BIC Bavaria’s partners will complement the local start-ups’ technical development and promote both the commercialisation and the usage of aerospace technologies in other growth areas.