Welcome to the InCubed programme

The InCubed


ESA’s InCubed programme helps industry develop new commercial Earth Observation (EO) based products with rapid co-funding to help reduce the risk on the company’s investment in product development and deployment into the market.

Investing in Industrial Innovation – InCubed – is a European Space Agency open call programme supporting innovative and commercially viable products and services using satellite imagery and datasets, with the focus of removing barriers to entry of the commercial marketplace.  This new ESA initiative has a permanently open call for European businesses to apply for a chance to gain financial, technical and practical support for industry activities (although some member states operate InCubed calls which are time limited). The goal is to support industry-led initiatives that will open new market opportunities, bringing innovative systems and products faster to market, and enabling European industry focused on EO to compete commercially in the global marketplace.

InCubed will, in most cases, co-fund up to 50% of a proposed venture. It can also provide access to ESA expertise and technical support; furthermore it could allow to unlock patient financing and further investment.

Through InCubed, companies developing innovative commercial solutions  related to Earth Observation can approach ESA at any time for support to make their venture technically viable and commercially competitive.

The programme has a very wide scope and can co-fund anything from building satellites to on ground data platforms and everything in between.

“Earth observation is undergoing a paradigm shift,” said Josef Aschbacher, Director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes.

“Commercial companies, big and small, are developing exciting assets, such as satellites, ground systems and data analytics solutions. ESA has set up a programme, called InCubed, to help European industry to establish a leading market position.

“Speed and flexibility in deciding and implementing a partnership proposal are key ingredients for success. InCubed will do that.”

What we are looking for

Are you a start-up, SME or large company in one of the InCubed participating states who has an innovative product or service which with further development could become commercially viable? Do you need a further push for it to be commercialised? If so, we invite you to submit your idea to ESA.

If you have an existing activity in mind e.g. a constellation, a satellite, an instrument, a technology, software, a service or an application related to the earth observation sector and you want to develop it with ESAs help and then roll it out commercially then InCubed could be the programme for you.

The ultimate aim of InCubed is for your development to reach at least minimum viable product stage of development and be robust from a technical, commercial, programmatic and financial point of view. Your Intellectual Property Rights, 100%, stay with you. The programme can also support further roll out and scale up if appropriate or can provide a solid demonstration capability for you to seek further series funding for scaling and expansion.

Ideas specifically for InCubed can address any element(s) within the Earth Observation Value chain architecture or any combination to deliver an end-to-end system.

Space Segment: activities related to any on-board product/service

  • Satellite(s)
  • Platform
  • Payload

Ground Segment: activities related to the ground segment of an earth observation satellite system

•            Ground stations and mission management

•            Ground networks and data distributions

Data Segment: activities related to management, processing and the use of the earth observation data

•            Data management

•            Data Processing and Visualization

•            Data Analytics/Insights /Applications

What we offer:

Successful applicants receive:

  • Zero-equity co-funding (agreed with your participating member state).
  • ESA stamp of credibility (e.g. use of the ESA logo, …)
  • Personalised ESA guidance with world class technical expertise & commercial support
  • Access to ESA EO facilities and to the Phi-Lab (EO and AI expertise)
  • Joining the InCubed community, having access to networks and dedicated event

 How to apply:

InCubed is driven by submitted industrial proposals which must demonstrate that the product or service to be developed is commercially viable by the end of the InCubed activity (or at the very least include a very robust roadmap to commercialisation).

You can propose your idea directly to ESA. We will assess your idea and provide feedback. The first step can be to pitch your idea using this online tool. Do not worry, your idea will be treated confidentially and only the ESA InCubed team will have access to it. Remember that InCubed has been created to support and development the commercial sector based on earth observation data and it is these kinds of ideas we are looking for.

Additional Details

The Announcement of Partnership Opportunity is published on EMITS, under “Open Invitations to Tender” reference AO9090

The size and nature of any potential co-funding involved is subject to authorisation by the supporting National Delegation(s).  Some National Delegation(s) have specific national procedures to obtain the letter of authorization – so do not ask them at the last minute!

Please note that co-funding is only available to economic operators who reside in the participating ESA member states who have subscribed to InCubed.

To date, these member states include: Austria, Belgium*, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia*, Finland, Germany*, Greece*, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal*, Romania, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

* These member states subscribed to InCubed+ and the fund is intended to be available only from May2020 

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