ESA's Turin-based aerospace incubator gets startups into orbit

November 16, 2021
The call for startups of the space-related incubator supported by ESA and ASI and born from the synergy between I3P, Politecnico di Torino and Fondazione LINKS is now open.

The launch and the technological and business development of new innovative companies in the Space Economy sector is the main purpose of theESA Business Incubation Centre Turin (ESA BIC Turin), che inaugura ufficialmente i lavori con una cerimonia di apertura presso il Politecnico di Torino e con il lancio della prima call dedicata alle startup più promettenti del settore spaziale che vogliano ricevere supporto da questo nuovo centro di incubazione ed entrare a far parte del relativo ecosistema.

TheESA BIC Turin was born thanks to the synergy between the Incubator of the Polytechnic of Turin I3P, the Politecnico di Torino and Links Foundation, which together won the selection made by ESA, on a mandate from ASI for the construction and the management of this new centre. 

The activities, carried out in coordination with ASI and ESA, aim to offer to the selected startups opportunities for technological development, business coaching and mentoring, legal advice related to the protection of intellectual property rights, access to capital for growth and integration into the Italian and European industrial system. In Italy, the ESA BIC Turin will join the already operational ESA BIC Lazio. 

The centre will be able to count on the consolidated experience of I3P in the world of innovative startups, on the strong scientific skills of the technological partners and on the support of a large team of local representatives in the institutional, industrial and financial sphere. In particular, funding will be complemented by local Partners. The Piedmont Region will provide grants for new startups generated locally or attracted to the territory. The Turin Chamber of Commerce will provide financial support for the management of the centre. The Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation will operate as the main support with a multi-year contribution aimed at covering the operating expenses of the ESA BIC Turin program, and by activating innovative investment tools to support the technological development and the growth of the future startups.

The center will also see the involvement of numerous financial operators active in different stages of development of startups, with the aim of offering investment opportunities from seed money to capital for growth and internationalization. The Club degli Investitori, LIFTT, RedSeed, the aerospace fund Primo Space, NEVA Sgr, RIF-T, Finpiemonte Partecipazioni, CDP Venture Capital and Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center, have chosen to support the project. In particular, the Intesa San Paolo group will make available specific credit lines for new companies incubated in the center.

"The Space Economy represents a field characterized by significant potential repercussions in various industrial sectors through the development of new products, services and business models based on the use of space data and infrastructures. New startups can contribute significantly to this process. The ESA BIC Turin's goal is to create value for the incubated startups, through strategic support and connection with industrial, financial and research organizations", explains Giuseppe Scellato, President of I3P and coordinator of ESA BIC Turin.

“Aerospace is one the core areas of PoliTO actions planned for the upcoming years. Our goal is to set up a series of development and innovation districts in Torino, its metropolitan area and Piedmont Region. They would be based on the presence of public and private entities, from start-ups to SMEs and large firms. In this framework, the ESA BIC Turin project will be key to encourage innovation and boost the entire sector”, adds Guido Saracco, Rector of the Polytechnic of Turin.

"We are proud to have been involved in an initiative with such high strategic value for our country and a strong impact on the development of the territory" continues Marco Mezzalama, President of the LINKS Foundation. "LINKS, through its researchers, has always worked in the field of space applications, thanks to its experience in over 20 years of activity at national and international level. ESA BIC Turin represents an opportunity with high added value for different stakeholders, from students and researchers, to institutions, to businesses, creating an important element in the innovation chain. We are therefore happy to be able to provide incubated start-ups with our know-how".

"The Italian Space Agency, on the matter of the commercialization connected to the space, is at the forefront of the European panorama", comments Mauro Piermaria, Head of Innovation and New Space Economy of ASI. "Our role, in addition to finance some projects, must be the fundamental one of designing an integrated architecture of all the Space Economy initiatives promoted by national ASI and within ESA, and to develop a system that collaborates with Public Institutions and models of partnership with private individuals, for their greater effectiveness". 

Stefan Gustafsson, ESA BICs Network Manager, comments: "We are very happy to welcome I3P and Polytechnic of Turin as our new partners in the ESA BIC network. The new ESA BIC is also an opportunity for Turin to position itself even stronger as a hub for innovation and space related activities. I would also like to highlight the importance of the ESA BIC network itself. While ESA BIC Turin now can tap into the resources of a pan-European network of ESA BICs, Technology Transfer Brokers and ESA Business Application Ambassadors, the rest of the network also has a new partner with unique capabilities. Together we create Europe's future in space". 

Roberto Cossu, ESA Space Solutions Country Manager for Italy, says: “We welcome ESA BIC Turin in the ESA Space Solutions Network. This centre will be a great opportunity for the Italian space-related ecosystem. Thanks to the support of the Italian Space Agency, this is the second ESA BIC active in Italy, with ESA BIC Lazio already operating since 2009. ESA Space Solutions is present in the Country also with a Business Application Ambassador Platform. All together they will support Italian start-ups and SMEs to develop business using space technologies and data.”

The call for startups

There will be three annual startup selections that the center will lead in collaboration with the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.

The ESA BIC Turin will support new companies based on space technologies, with applications both upstream (communication systems, satellites, software for space mission control) and downstream (application of data and space technological solutions in other sectors such as environmental monitoring, mobility, logistics, precision agriculture). 

The startups admitted to the incubation program will receive a financial contribution of € 50,000 for the product development and the intellectual property management. In addition, it will provide business coaching and mentoring services, technological support, fundraising support and access to ESA BIC Turin's extensive partner network, that includes large companies, investment funds and research institutions. 

The first selection of startups will close on the 25th of February 2022. The website contains all the information relating to the services offered and the application process.

(Source and photo: I3P)


Luca Coppolella
Head of Content

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