European Space Agency opens a business accelerator on Aalto University campus
The European Space Agency (ESA), Aalto University and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment signed today an agreement on establishing a business accelerator for space industry start-ups (ESA Business Incubation Centre, ESA-BIC). ESA Director General Jan Wörner is currently in Finland attending the Slush technology event.
'The space industry is developing rapidly worldwide, and much has happened in the sector in Finland as well in recent years’, Jan Wörner says. ‘With the ESA Business Incubation Centre in Finland 50 national space technology based startups will be supported in the next five years. As a significant research community, strong promoter of entrepreneurship, and already involved in many space technology projects, Aalto University is for us a natural and highly valued partner for such a centre.’
The ESA Business Incubation Centre will support the objective of Finland’s Space Strategy to raise Finland’s space activities to the world’s top level by 2020.
‘Finland’s goal is to significantly raise the amount of new business turnover being generated by space technology, and the ESA accelerator will provide strong support for this goal’, comments Petri Peltonen, Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.
The ESA’s business accelerator will be located in Aalto University’s new centre for growth companies A Grid, which will be opening at the turn of the year in the former premises of the School of Electrical Engineering on Otaniemi campus. A Grid will be one of the largest centres for growth companies in Europe, housing dozens of startups, other businesses and partners, and the university-run acceletaror Aalto Start-Up Center, which is one of ESA’s partnering organisations.
‘Already a number of space sector businesses have been born from Aalto’s space research. We also do a lot of research and development work together with the European Space Agency. The accelerator will strengthen our connections with the ESA and, in addition to strengthening our start-up activities, it will also support our research and teaching. In particular, Aalto’s expertise in building small satellites could gain a lot of new international visibility through this project’, says Vice President of Research and Innovation Tuija Pulkkinen from Aalto University.
The accelerator to be opened in Otaniemi is the newest member of the ESA-BIC network, which operates in 15 European countries. So far, over 500 businesses have been started with support from the network. The startups selected for the program receive €50,000 of growth funding for product development as well as support for business and technological development through the partner network.
‘We hope to receive applications to the ESA accelerator from all Finnish businesses that are less than five years old and which either have innovative technology for space industry use or use space data or space technology in their operations. The first application period will begin at the start of 2018’, explains the accelerator’s manager Kimmo Isbjörnssund.
The accelerator’s activities will be supported by both the City of Espoo and the City of Helsinki. Furthermore, Turku Science Park is partnering with the accelerator in helping to find suitable startups from the Finland Proper region.
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