Specific programmes of the European Space Agency ESA (e.g. ARTES, GSTP and NAVISP) require the explicit support of the national ESA Delegation ("letter of support" or "letter of authorisation"). This section outlines the associated guidelines and applicable rules to obtain such a letter.
Switzerland's investment in the ARTES, GSTP and NAVISP technology programmes aim at developing strong technological niches, based on the principles of excellence, competitiveness and cooperation, and in alignment with the Swiss Space Policy and the Swiss Space Implementation Plan (PDF, 3 MB, 19.10.2017).
Therefore, technology activities in these programmes, both under competitive tenders and co-funded schemes, should be approached by interested actors with a strong strategic orientation towards commercial technologies, products and services.
In a nutshell, successful funding requests are broadly characterized by the following qualities:
- Based on excellence, competitiveness and cooperation,
- Viable, strategic approach with respect to the topic and the domain of interest,
- Industry-led, built on strong R&D heritage,
- Strong case for future commercial ROI in Switzerland, and
- Clearly embedded in a tangible, and convincing commercial strategy
The following topics are specifically treated and outlined in this section, and are of interest if you intend to submit a funding request to the Swiss Delegation for ESA under a programme requiring such a letter of support or authorisation.
Evaluation process and timeline
The evaluation process is slightly different for fully-funded, open competition activities and ESA co-funded, industry initiated programmes.
Process for ESA co-funded activities
Proposals for ESA co-funded activities are evaluated twice a year. The current submission deadlines are as follows:
- 26 April 2024 end of business (CEST)
- 6 December 2024 end of business (CEST)
Process for fully funded activities (Open Competition)
Funding requests for fully funded activities issued as open competition tenders are evaluated on a rolling basis.
Owing to the strategic nature of the competitive funding instruments, we encourage interested parties to consult, and work with, the regularly updated activity workplans in ARTES, GSTP and NAVISP technology development programmes (see below for the links) and to avoid submitting funding requests for already open ITTs in an opportunistic approach.
Funding requests must be submitted exclusively via the online form and will usually be confirmed within 2 business days from their reception. Incomplete applications will be rejected but can be resubmitted at the next deadline. Evaluation will happen within 6-10 weeks of the deadline and/or submission, depending on the nature of the request (industry initiated with evaluation deadline or under competition).
Funding requests for activities in Open Competition (fully-funded) may be submitted by entities (e.g., companies, research institutes) based in Switzerland. The requestor's strategy must be to bring sustainable added value to Switzerland, and the proposed activities must support implementation of this strategy. In addition, the proposed activities must be aligned with the Swiss Space Policy and the Swiss Space Implementation Plan (PDF, 3 MB, 19.10.2017).
A complete funding request for any of the programmes mentioned above consists of the following elements, submitted exlusively via our electronic form.
- Overview Form for Technology and Telecommunication proposals (See box at the bottom)
- Project Description, or «Vademecum», with a detailed description of the activities
The “Guidelines for Requestors: Technology” (See box at the bottom) describe in detail the requirements for the project description, its scope, and the answers it must provide.
Further elements and instructions
ARTES, GSTP and NAVISP programmes provide templates and guidelines for writing a good Outline Proposal, including questions on the Business Case and other elements.
- Documents for ARTES C&G, ScyLight & Entry
- Documents for ARTES Business Applications (BASS)
- Documents for GSTP Element 6 "Make" (6.2)
- Documents for NAVISP Element 2
The project description ("Vademecum") for funding requests under co-funded EAS programmes shall be based on these Outline Proposal templates.
A solid preparation of the funding request, including a good business case, and general adherence to the guidelines, will greatly reduce the amount of iteration needed and increase your chances of acceptance upon submission.
Pro-active communication of your intentions and roadmaps furthermore help align the planned activities on your side with the available funding per programme. It is also an occasion to discuss particular cases, especially in view of the special provisions outlined below.
Fully funded activities
Fully funded activities implemented under ARTES, GSTP and NAVISP are subject to a letter of support from the Swiss Delegation to ESA. The general process to obtain such a letter of support is a three-step approach based on the information available from ESA (Activity Workplans , Statements of Work and Global List of intended ITTs), illustrated below.
As outlined in the introduction, successful funding requests for activities under competitive schemes are broadly characterized by the following qualities:
ARTES fully funded activities
The list of fully funded activities is announced on a yearly basis and can also be found at all time on the ARTES Website (Funding). We invite interested parties from Switzerland to proactively contact the Swiss Delegation to ESA as soon as they identify any potential activity of interest from this list. A proactive approach is crucial, as an Invitation to Tender (ITT) is only open for 6-8 weeks. This is generally not enough to prepare a funding request that meets the requirements of the delegation and leaves enough time for a decision.
GSTP fully funded activities (GSTP Period 6, Element 1 "Develop")
The GSTP programme uses a draft list of potential activities, announced via ESA-Star (Intended activities), to create an initial workplan (See the ESA Website). Only activities having garnered support from at least one national delegation will be open for an ITT and published on ESA-Star. If you intend to participate in any activity not yet implemented, we invite you to contact the national delegation proactively. Based on a dicusssion and first assessment of the interest for this activity, we will then guide you towards the next steps (potentially preparing a funding request).
NAVISP Element 1 fully funded activities
The list of fully funded activities is announced on a yearly basis and can also be found at all time on the NAVISP Website. We invite interested parties from Switzerland to proactively contact the Swiss Delegation to ESA as soon as they identify any potential activity of interest from this list. A proactive approach is crucial, as an Invitation to Tender (ITT) is only open for 6-8 weeks. This is generally not enough to prepare a funding request that meets the requirements of the delegation and leaves enough time for a decision.
Special cases and provisions
Special provisions for certain specific setups and cases are applicable for funding under ARTES, GSTP and NAVISP. The cases and rules are outlined in the following list.
ESA co-funding levels
Depending on the programme, ESA will partly fund projects related to new technologies or techniques, products and demonstrations with differing maximum co-funding levels. Please note that these levels are to be understood as "up to" and not as fixed co-funding levels and might change with the evolution of the programme.
Effective co-funding depends on a number of elements, including, but not limited to:
- maturity of the technologies;
- heritage of the project;
- changes in programme objectives;
- national policies and gudelines in force; and
- availability of funding.
As a general principle, Switzerland supports
- a co-funding of up to 75% in programmes where a maximum ESA co-funding of up to 75% or higher (but below 100%) is foreseen; and
- co-funding up to a maximum of 50% for programmes in the so called "product" or "demonstration phases" (for special cases, e.g. higher co-funding for SMEs in demonstration or pdocut phases, Switzerland generally also supports a co-funding of a maximum pf up to 50%).
Potential requestors should contact the delegation for further guidance on this matter.
Innovation Matrix and Product/Market fit
For proposals under ESA co-funded programmes, one important element to consider is your project's fit into the following Innovation Matrix. When preparing the Outline Proposal for ESA and when filling out the Overview Form, you will be asked to place the proposed activity on this Matrix (A larger rendition of the matrix can be accessed here (PNG, 229 kB, 15.03.2018)).
ESA R&D technology funding limits
ESA funding for developing technologies should make a marginal contribution in the long term. Therefore, funding should not amount to more than an average of 20% of the entity’s total turnover over five years. Requests for project funding which exceed this limit are therefore not normally approved by the delegation.In order that these elements can be assessed, in addition to the Business Case documents (see below) the requestor should provide with the application a description of developments in turnover over the past three years and a forecast for the coming year (i.e. Y-3 to Y+1). This should differentiate between ESA turnover (i.e. ESA-financed technological development) and other turnover.
Guidelines and forms for submitting a proposal to the Swiss Space Office: Technology and Telecommunication