Submission from ESA (European Space Agency)
ESA ANSWER TO
THE UK SCIENCE
INTO UK SPACE
Q 1. To what extent does the internal organisation
of space activities within a Member State affect the way in which
ESA works with that Member State? Has ESA had any difficulty in
working with the UK, given the "partnership" nature
of the BNSC? Which BNSC partners does ESA work with most closely? Answer:
The internal organisation of space activities
in UK is of a particular nature. It is clear that the elaboration
of a position for an ESA delegate body requires coordination among
relevant "partners" in BNSC.
From the Agency's point of view, the process
seems to work properly in preparation of the ESA Council, even
if it can appear heavy on the UK side.
At the Science Programme Committee, the UK contributions
to discussions and decisions are always informed and well-presented.
During discussions on difficult issues, UK delegates frequently
take a steering role and in many instances a decisive role; some
examples are: the decision that ESA should not get involved in
Spectrum X-Gamma in 2002, the contribution of the delegation to
the reconstruction of the programme in 2003, the setting up of
the Herschel/Planck review in 2004, the approval of MIRI for JWST
in 2005, and the approval of GAIA in 2006. Equally, on occasion,
such as in 1995, the UK delegation working in SPC, Council and,
ultimately, at the Council at ministerial level have reduced European
capability. The UK played a pivotal role in reducing the programme
budget. The imposition of cash-limits for six years following
the Council at ministerial level in Toulouse (1996) resulted directly
in an almost 25% smaller programme today than a decade ago.
However, at the Council at ministerial level
2005 in Berlin, UK minister Lord Sainsbury was instrumental in
achieving the increase of 2.5% annually for the Scientific Programme,
in particular considering that other big contributors were very
reluctant to grant such an increase.
In the interaction with the ESA Earth Observation
directorate, the unique structure of the BNSC partnership is seen
to bring a number of advantages:
BNSC is able to represent UK interests with
a single voice and coherent positions. At the same time it works
as an effective and useful communication channel to some of its
partners who play an important role in the European EO landscape,
Met Office and DEFRA, as user organizations
providing requirements and exploiting the results of EO missions;
NERC as a driver in defining Earth
Science programmes and assessing their return;
RAL for the development of key technologies
and innovative instruments.
But the structure of BNSC is in one sense "ahead
of its time": it puts user departments in the lead which
is positive and encourages the user voice on issues such as GMES
by making them responsible for the lead in this area. But when
they are not yet mature users, this may become a drawback: they
may be uncertain and rather frightened about the potential consequences.
The Agency has seen a number of such cases, last but not least
important the UK position on GMES at the 2005 Council at ministerial
level in Berlin.
For mature users of space, such as PPARC, NERC
and Met Office this system works very well, but for developing
users such as DEFRA it seems too intense and rapid a transition
DEFRA, for example, has many responsibilities
and its role in space is internally a very minor one. It would
need to be given the confidence to act with the authority with
which it has been invested, and the resources to go with it.
The ESA Telecommunications programme ARTES (Advanced
Research in Telecommunications) is widely recognised as an effective
tool for the support and benefit of the UK and its industry with
research and development projects being undertaken in "partnership"
with co-funding UK industry. Since 1998, ESA ARTES co-funded contracts
with industry have been placed for a value of almost 200 Meuros
(ESA price) of which contracts placed with Astrium UK, the main
UK industrial partner for ESA Telecommunications, amount to around
113 Meuro (ESA price).
UK investments in ESA Telecommunications allow
the UK industry to maintain technical centres of excellence in
the UK for payload systems, equipments manufacture and testing
facilities aimed in particular at new services and technologies
such as global broadband systems.
The ARTES programme is credited with generating
high economic returns for the UK industry in the last five years,
in particular for Inmarsat-4 which has included space segment,
ground segment and the complete value chain including operations
and services. ARTES has also included innovative contracts, eg
supporting Eurostar 3000, Ion Propulsion thrusters and the Highly
Adaptable SatelliteHylas(Avanti/Astrium) for interactive
broadband services, ia.
For the near future, in addition to an extension
of the usual ARTES-3 and ARTES-4 co-funded "partnership"
programmes, the new ARTES Alphasat Programme planned to start
in mid 2007 offers an opportunity for the UK operator Inmarsat
and its industrial partners for flight and operations of Alphasat.
UK participation and investment will enable an extension of the
Inmarsat fleet and its communications service capabilities.
Q 2. How much has the UK invested in mandatory
and optional programmes within ESA over the past ten years? How
does this investment compare to the contributions made by other
Member States? Answer:
Today, the weight of the UK in mandatory programmes
is commensurate to the relative weight of its GDP, ie 16%, which
makes UK the second contributor to mandatory activities, below
Germany but above France and Italy.
The weight of the UK in optional programmes
is around 5% of total ESA optional programmes.
On average, UK participation to the total of
ESA programmes is 8%, which is close to Spain and Belgium, and
much below France, Germany and Italy. This is a big anomaly among
ESA Member States, which usually contribute at equal or higher
percentage level to optional programmes compared to mandatory.
The question can be raised whether such an important
Member State as the United Kingdom, with such high standing in
the domains of space research and development, should not further
enhance its funding support in comparison to the other main shareholders.
Below is a table comparing, in absolute numbers, the overall investment
of the UK in ESA with France, Germany and Italy, the three biggest
contributors to ESA, which have comparable population and GDP
with the UK (figures in EURO).
Q 3. What action has ESA undertaken in order to
establish a European Space Education Resource Office in the UK?
The first meeting between ESA and "Yorkshire Forward"
(YF), a Regional Development Agency (RDA), took place in June
Following that meeting, ESA formally notified the BNSC Director
General of the on-going contacts with YF. ESA and BNSC invited
YF to consider their plans as inclusive of all the key players
in the United Kingdom who were involved in space related education
aiming at bringing cohesion to a diverse array of space education
initiatives and creating a network for space education.
Late September 2005, YF submitted to ESA an unsolicited proposal
to manage and finance, the ESERO pilot phase in the UK.
An ESA-YF bi-lateral meeting was held in Bradford on 9 November
2005 to explore the opportunity. A debriefing meeting between
ESA and BNSC was held in London on 10 November.
In October 2005, the BNSC Partnership commissioned a report
"Bringing space into school science" by Prof
Martin Barstow of Leicester University. One major recommendation
was the creation of a single advisory body/Office to coordinate
space education across the UK. On 16 February 2006, BNSC Partnership
and YF convened, at the National Space Centre in Leicester, a
meeting to discuss the Barstow report and the ESERO project.
ESA, in agreement with BNSC, invited, in March 2006, YF to
submit a proposal, based on non-exchange of funds, for the management
of the ESERO pilot phase in the UK, in accordance with the terms
and conditions outlined in a Statement of Work.
A proposal was submitted late April 2006 and has been reviewed
by BNSC and ESA. Consequently, late June 2006, ESA has invited
YF to administer a research and consultative/study phase (6 months)
to establish the pattern of distributed "ESERO contact points"
in the United Kingdom.
The start of the subsequent consolidation (six months) and
operational (12 months) phases would then be decided, upon satisfactory
outcome of the consultative/study phase. Moreover, in view of
a possible continuation of the UK-ESERO project beyond its pilot
phase, ESA and BNSC wished to be presented, as part of the strategy
plan, with a comprehensive financial forecast for the operation
of the project.
Present status and the way forward:
The delivery of the outcome of the consultative/study phase
is expected late March 2007. It will be mainly based on a wide
stakeholder consultation that was initiated in November 2006.
In order to accompany first the consultation phase and later
the subsequent phases, two bodies were installed:
"Contract Management Group". It is composed
of ESA, BNSC Partnership and YF senior representatives. Its main
task is to ensure the proper implementation, governance and quality
of process. The Group met in November 2006.
"Interim Advisory Group". Its mandate
is to advise YF on the consultation among stakeholders on the
most appropriate UK space education/ESERO infrastructure; to recommend
to YF, in the light of the consultation findings, the priorities
for the development of the UK space education/ESERO infrastructure;
to advise on a marketing & communications strategy and finally
to inform the BNSC Partnership, ESA and YF on the development
of a UK strategy for space education. (Please see annex 1. for
Annex 1: members of the Interim Advisory Group, background
information on ESERO.
Q 4. What discussions has ESA had regarding establishing
a major facility in the UK? Is the establishment of a major facility
in the UK likely in the near future? Answer:
At the occasion of his meeting with the ESA Director General
on 31 October 2006, the UK minister Lord Sainsbury proposed a
reflection on a future ESA engagement in specific UK centres to
strengthen both ESA's visibility in the UK and UK's engagement
in ESA. Following this action, a meeting has taken place on the
occasion of the visit of an ESA Delegation to RAL.
The initiative has been warmly welcomed by ESA DG, who mentioned
that UK is currently not holding a place among the ESA Member
States which is appropriate to its political influence as well
as its capacity and capabilities (see question 2). After having
had first reflections with ESA Directors he mentioned the following
points for a common understanding:
1. A long term investment of ESA in the UK should correspond
to a long term investment of the UK in ESA, above its current
2. The criteria for selecting such investments should
therefore be the following:
Serving the UK interests, ie being consistent
with UK Space Policy and plan.
Serving the ESA common interests, ie being consistent
with the ESA Long Term Plan.
Making best use of and creating synergies with
technical expertise existing and demonstrated by the selected
As far as possible, corresponding to types of
expertise and activities not yet existing in ESA centres, in order
to avoid either duplication or transfer.
3. According to the preliminary discussion inside ESA
the topics/field of activities could be the following:
Science (UK second largest contributor to ESA).
New applications (integrated applications) and
Since there is an urgent need of a convergence between UK's
and ESA's interests a joint UK-ESA Working Group has been set
up in February 2007 to elaborate in short time the details for
The UK representatives agreed on all points above and included
in the set of selection criteria that the benefits for UK should
be demonstrated and benchmarked against investments in other fields
of research, innovation should be a driving force and therefore
technology transfer potential should be an important criterion
also. The form of integration of ESA investments into a campus
could remain open and be explored for the best fit (collocation
etc) after identification of suitable activities.
The UK-ESA joint Working Group will investigate the potential
activities for an ESA engagement in UK, associated to a long term
commitment of UK in the relevant ESA programmes along the agreed
set of criteria. The WG will be composed of two to three senior
participants from UK and senior participants from ESA Directorates.
A mid term report is expected by mid of April (presentation probably
on 24 April 2007 in London) and the final report will be delivered
by 31 May 2007.
Q 5. To what extent does ESA coordinate its technology
transfer programme with national technology transfer initiatives?
ESA's Technology Transfer Programme is managed by the Technology
Transfer Programme Office (TTPO). The main mission of the TTPO
is to facilitate the use of space technology and space systems
for non-space applications and to further demonstrate the benefit
of the European Space Programme to the European citizens.
The ESA TTPO works through a network of technology brokers
in the major Member States. In the UK, JRA is ESA's broker. JRA:
Facilitates the promotion and transfer of UK and
European space based technologies into European (non-space) markets.
Identifies UK non-space technology needs that
the European space industry might be able to satisfy.
Synergy with other UK Technology Transfer Initiatives is
sought: through JRA the TTPO integrates with wider national UK
initiatives such as the Innovation Relay Centres, business incubators
and entrepreneurial events such as Venturefest.
ESA TTPO also supports (though not financially) the UK's
Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) through the Kite Club (run by
Qi3) which focuses on transfers from and within the UK space sector
on behalf of PPARC and BNSC.
In the future, cooperation between JRA and Qi3 will ensure
that ESA, BNSC and PPARC requirements on technology identification
and marketing and opportunities for knowledge and technology transfer
in the space sector, as well as the promotion of UK space technologies
to the non-space sector both inside and outside the UK, are integrated
to achieve maximum cooperation and find synergies to avoid duplication
of money and effort.
Based on the success of nationally orientated projects in
the UK (such as Symmetrica, ThruVision, Anson Medical etc), ESA
TTPO aims to promote further synergy and opportunities through
its National Technology Transfer Initiative (lines of business).
Such collaboration will lead to new feasibility studies and
development projects, as well as new businesses, spinouts and
licensing of technologies.
In light of the cooperation, JRA and Qi3 with the support
of ESA will organise a TTP UK event on 28 March. For the future,
integration of new UK based incubation centres related to space
into the ESINET (network of incubation centres with a space focus)
is sought. ESINET will be managed by EBN (European Business Network).
Establishing an ESA presence in the UK (see question 4) would
further improve synergy between ESA and national technology transfer.
Q 6. Which ESA programmes are covered by the principle
of juste retour? How is the under-return of juste retour to
the UK being addressed? We would be grateful if you could provide
us with statistical information detailing the level of UK investments
in ESA programmes and the corresponding value of contracts awarded
to UK industry during the period 1996-2006. Answer:
All ESA programmes are covered by the principle of fair distribution
of contracts among ESA Member States. A principle of hierarchy
of return rules has been adopted by Council in June 2005, according
to which the overall return is prevailing over the individual
rules established at programme level. The minimum overall return
has been fixed at 0.94 at the end of next five-year period, while
the minimum per programme is 0.84. This approach increases the
flexibility, allowing a maximum display of competition. As a matter
of fact, the fair distribution of contracts is only one of the
four objectives of the ESA Industrial Policy; these are: 1. Cost
efficiency. 2. Competitiveness. 3. Fair distribution of contracts.
4. Competitive bidding.
The principle of fair distribution is not applicable to programmes
implemented by ESA for third parties, or for the share of programmes
where non-ESA contributions are injected.
The evolution of cumulated contributions of the United Kingdom,
expressed as percentages of the total contributions to ESA, is
shown in annex 2: it is broken down per mandatory programmes (to
which all Member States are bound to contribute: eg Scientific
Programme), per optional programmes, and as a whole. These contributions
are relevant only to the activities producing industrial commitments.
The same Annex provides a comparison of the achieved return
coefficient (ratio between the amount of contracts multiplied
by a technological weighting factor, and the ideal value corresponding
to the contribution).
The annex 3 provides cartography of the commitments to UK
industry in the period 1996-2006.
At end-2006, the return situation for the UK shows a return
coefficient of 0.91 (should be 1 in case of a balance), with a
deficit (weighted commitments less ideal amounts) in the order
of -78 M. However, it should be noted that the deficit is
since end 2006 decreasing and reducing to a level of -20 M.
These figures stem mainly from the situations in the Scientific
Programme (mandatory activity) and the Earth Observation Envelope
Programme (EOEP, optional programme).
The above under-return, which has some structural reasons
linked to the industrial situation in the UK (number and type
of companies, see breakdown presentations in annex 3), has been
treated with the highest priority by:
Setting proper return requirements in scientific
missions like Gaia and BepiColombo, resulting in the obligation
for the Prime to award some 25-26% of contracts to UK industry,
subject to competitive proposals. Achieving the targets for Gaia
and BepiColombo are today well in sight;
Maximising UK shares in SWARM mission (part of
Setting proper return requirements in EarthCare
mission (also part of EOEP). With these measures UK will be back
in the geo-return band foreseen in EO. It is inherent to an envelope
programme that there are undulations of the return with different
missions in the same programme. It is worth mentioning that UK
was in the last geo-return period heavily over-returned in EO;
Adapting the procurement approach of newly subscribed
programmes, like Exploration, so that UK contributions match UK
industrial capacities and hence geographical return.
The Agency is confident that the minimum guaranteed return
will be reached at the end of the reference period.
Q 7. What is the future of SMEs in the space industry?
Is this an area of development that ESA would support? Answer:
"Space industry" can mean different things depending
on whether one considers the traditionally visible "upstream
sector" or if one includes also downstream activities. These
two categories have different entry barriers for SMEs.
In addition, companies not dedicated to space work are numerous,
which makes it difficult to define the boundaries of the "space
industry". According to the boundary conditions chosen, the
answer for the future of SMEs in space industry may vary.
The traditional strength of SMEs, such as innovation, reactivity
and cost effectiveness are attractive for the space domain. In
addition, space business is cyclical and SMEs are used by the
space industry to locally absorb variations in space work. The
importance of innovation coming from SMEs is illustrated by the
fact that in average 20% of the ESA R&D contracts are awarded
to SMEs, the majority of these contracts being allocated on a
pure competitive basis.
Considering that innovation in space is a major stake for
the sustainability of European space activities, and that space
has to take maximum benefit of the breakthroughs performed in
other industrial domains, ESA promotes spin-in of SME technologies/products
applicable to its space programmes.
Considering the dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit that
SMEs traditionally demonstrate, ESA encourages the development
of downstream application services through special calls.
Cost efficiency and flexibility of SMEs and their innovative
way of doing things could be exploited in certain specific domains,
like in-orbit demonstration.
Today ESA supports SMEs access to technology contracts through
four complementary mechanisms:
Innovation Triangle Initiative: a call for ideas
open the whole year, based on the concept that a close collaboration
between three different entitiesthe inventor, the developer
and the customeris an important factor for the rapid and
successful introduction of technology innovations in industry.
LET-SME (Leading Edge Technology of SMEs): an
annual AO inviting SMEs to propose technologies to fulfil a selection
of the Agencies needs.
The Start-up Initiative of Telecommunication programmes:
open AO using the traditional funding mechanisms of the telecommunication
ARTES programmes, to encourage SMEs contributions in the multimedia
(ARTES-3) or near to market developments (ARTES-4) domains, or
in the technology domain (ARTES-5).
Procurement procedures applied to technology contracts,
restricting the competition to SMEs.
In addition, the Agency boosts SME skills and expertise through
the following actions:
Access to its laboratories and test facilities
has been promoted and a special favourable charging policy is
put in place.
Provision of training in different space engineering
and management disciplines are offered.
Access to ESA experts for hands-on support for
short periods is granted.
A new project with the European Commission is
on-going in order to scale up this type of support.
The Agency takes action to support the commercial exploitation
of technology originally developed by SMEs for space, or to support
SMEs in networking and finding new customers through the organisation
of events (eg Industry Space Days), to maximize the impact of
space investments, or to support the sustainability of these players
favouring their presence in different industrial domains.
In view of the benefit for its programmes, the Agency will
continue to exploit the potential of SMEs, through support actions
comparable to the ones today in place, and with the objective
of improved efficiency, coherence and better visibility from the
Annex 4: SMEs within ESA programmesESA strategic
objectives and way forward.