The European Space Agency chooses Turin for the new Italian ESA BIC


ESA BIC Turin aims to support the development of innovative new businesses based on aerospace technologies, with both upstream and downstream applications.

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I3P, the business incubator of the Polytechnic of Turin, LINKS Foundation and Polytechnic of Turin have been awarded by the European Space Agency (ESA) a contract for setting up a new centre based in Turin to support the birth and growth of new Italian space-related start-ups, the ESA Business Incubation Centre Turin.

The activation of a new ESA BIC in Italy, which will join ESA BIC Lazio, has been promoted by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), which will be directly involved in the activities of the new centre.

ESA BIC Turin aims to support the birth and development of new innovative companies based on aerospace technologies, with both upstream (communication systems, satellites, software for space mission control) and downstream applications (application of data and solutions derived from aerospace into other sectors such as environmental monitoring, mobility, logistics, precision agriculture).

With this 7-year project, ESA aims to give a significant boost to the creation of new companies in the space economy sector. The project envisages the possibility to expand the activities in other Italian areas.

I3P will manage the whole incubation programme, in coordination with ESA and the Italian Space Agency. I3P will manage the scouting of start-ups and will provide strategic business support for their growth, while Polytechnic of Turin and LINKS Foundation will provide technological support for the new incubated businesses.

The application for the ESA tender has leveraged I3P's consolidated experience in start-ups’ support, the strong scientific and technological skills of the main technical partners and the support of a large pool of affiliate organisations from the institutional, industrial and financial areas. The Piedmont Regional Government will provide grants for the incubated start-ups, while the Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation and the Turin Chamber of Commerce will provide financial support for the management activities of ESA BIC Turin. Furthermore, Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation will activate additional innovative financial instruments to support the technological development and growth of the future space-related start-ups.

How will it work

The activities of the centre will start in October 2021 with the launch of an open call for start-ups and entrepreneurial projects. Every year there will be four cut- offs for the selections of new start-ups in collaboration with the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency: the selected start-ups will receive technological and business support services free of charge, as well as financial contributions for the development of innovative products and services made available by ESA, Piedmont Region and Compagnia di San Paolo. The path to market entry and the scale-up of companies will also be supported by the industrial, institutional and financial partners of the ESA BIC Turin.

We are very happy to welcome I3P, Polytechnic of Turin and LINKS Foundation as our new partners in the ESA BIC network”, explains Stefan Gustafsson, ESA BIC Network Manager. “Piedmont, a region of Europe rich of economic activity, in a country with a strong heritage in space, provides a fertile ground for new space related start-ups, both in downstream and upstream areas. The new ESA BIC is also an opportunity for Turin to position itself even stronger as a hub for innovation and space related activities. ESA BICs at other locations have already demonstrated that supporting entrepreneurs is a very efficient way to realize the innovation potential of space. Next to bright ideas and motivated entrepreneurs, this can only happen with active contributions from many types of actors that support the ESA BICs. With other words, making ESA BIC Italy Turin a success is a responsibility shared by many. I would also like to highlight the importance of the ESA BIC network itself. While ESA BIC Italy 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!” 

In preparing our application, we paid particular attention to the involvement of all relevant stakeholders, to ensure the presence of a highly attractive ecosystem for new space start-ups”, explains Prof. Giuseppe Scellato, Chairman of I3P and future coordinator of the ESA BIC Turin.

Indeed, the opportunities for the industrial development of start-ups in the aerospace sector will also depend on the capability to support their integration in the international value chains. On this front, the Centre can count on numerous affiliate partners who have chosen to support the I3P application: the Piedmont Aerospace District, a pool of large companies in the aerospace sector including Leonardo, Thales Alenia Space Italia, Altec, Avio, Macaer, and numerous innovative SMEs companies in the Turin area, including Tyvak International, Teseo, APR, Argotec, D-Orbit, Ithaca, Nanoracks, Aiko and GV Filtri.

Access to scientific skills, in addition to the services provided by the ESA BIC Turin technological partners, will be offered by a wide network of institutions and research centres, including the University of Turin, the Italian Institute of Metrological Research, the Competence Centre CIM4.0 , the Italian Institute of Technology, the Italian Aerospace Research Centre, the Sant'Anna School of Pisa, the Bruno Kessler Foundation, the ITS Aerospace / Mechatronics Piedmont, the National Institute of Nuclear Physics. The City of Turin will provide relevant infrastructures for testing aerospace derived solutions.

ESA BIC Turin will also see the involvement of numerous financial operators active in different stages of start-up development, with the aim of offering investment opportunities from seed money to capital for growth and internationalization. The Investors Club (business angel association), LIFTT, RedSeed, Primo Space, NEVA Sgr, RIF-T, Finpiemonte Partecipazioni, CDP Venture Capital have endorsed the application of I3P for the ESA BIC Turin. Moreover, the banking group Intesa San Paolo will offer specific credit lines for the new businesses incubated in the Centre.

Therefore, ESA BIC Turin will represent an important building block for the future aerospace centre "City of Aerospace" in Turin. The large team of public and private organisations who have endorsed the initiative witnesses the great value of space technologies to boost economic development at the local and national level.