Submitting a Proposal to the Swiss Space Office

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.

General principles

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
 
 
 

Funding requests

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:

  • 29 March 2020 end of business (CEST)
  • 27 September 2020 end of business (CEST)

Funding requests must be submitted in electronic form to space-tech@sbfi.admin.ch and will usually be confirmed within 24h of their reception. Incomplete applications will be rejected but can be resubmitted at the next deadline. Evaluation will happen within 6-8 weeks of the deadline.

Process for fully funded activities (Open Competition)

Funding requests for fully funded activities issued as open competition tenders are evaluated on a rolling basis. Funding requests must be submitted in electronic form to space-tech@sbfi.admin.ch and will usually be confirmed within 24h of their reception. Incomplete applications will be rejected and will not receive support. 

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.

 

Formal requirements

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, to be submitted via electronic mail to space-tech@sbfi.admin.ch:

  • 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. 

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:

  • Based on excellence, competitiveness and cooperation,
  • Viable, strategic approach with respect to the topic and the domain of interest,
  • Industry-led (both in terms of “strategc drive” for the activity and in terms of budget distribution within the consortium), built on strong R&D heritage,
  • Strong case for future commercial ROI in Switzerland, and
  • Clearly embedded in a tangible, and convincing commercial strategy

Owing to the strategic nature of the competitive technology funding instruments, we encourage interested parties to consult, and work with, the regularly updated activity workplans in all three programmes (see below for the links), and to avoid submitting funding requests for already open ITTs in an opportunistic approach.

This approach allows interested parties to prepare solid funding requests and build-up consortia which are able to demonstrate a strong willingness to follow-up beyond a particular ITT. It further ensures alignment with the objectives Switzerland pursues with the investment in these technology programmes.

 
 
 
 

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 EMITS, 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 EMITS. 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 (Click on the list items to expand).

Critical elements of the adjustments in 2018

Changing boundary conditions for ESA funded space R&D are the main driver for an adjusted process. An increasing number of participants and changing nature and breadth of activities that have been supported by ESA over the past years, as well as budgetary constraints require adaptations to allow for efficient and effective funding and decision processes within the Swiss Delegation to ESA but also at the boundary to ESA. 

Background and principles of the recent revision are as follows:

  • To cope with the growth of the Swiss Space Sector (N° of actors, changing nature and breadth of activities) at constant or declining budgets for Technology Programmes
  • To rationalise and harmonise the evaluation process in order to have a better overview and comparison of the various requests. Specifically, a procedural change with fix deadlines to evaluate the requests will be introduced (instead of continuous submission/evaluation). Baseline is a cadence of 2 evaluations per year.
  • To align the evaluation with the principles set forth in the SSIP, namely on the side of criteria and their evaluation, and with respect to additional elements like
    • competitiveness,
    • risk involved (technical and business),
    • market readiness (timeline),
    • potential impact and, last but not least,
    • alignment with strategic objectives in select areas (where appropriate, e.g. institutional programmes).
  • To add additional measures for stability, viability and reliability of the planning, especially for larger-scale, long-term programmes and initiatives, and in coordination with ESA