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.

The recently published revision of the Swiss Space Implementation Plan (SSIP 2018-2020 (PDF, 3 MB, 19.10.2017)) presents an evolution of the Swiss Space Implementation Plan published in 2013. It introduces a strategic framework and associated measures that are intended to foster a competitive, sustainable, national space ecosystem.

In this context, the Swiss Space Office has started an analysis of the past and current frameworks for industry-initiated R&D activities under a variety of ESA programmes, and the national decision processes associated with these
programmes[1]. An essential result of this analysis was an appreciation of the change in the number of participants and of the different nature and breadth of activities that have been supported by ESA over the past years.

Based on these results, we recently adapted the national processes and procedures. These adjustments bring the procedures in line with the objectives and measures of the Swiss Space Implementation plan. 


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.


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, 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).

In a nutshell, 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:

  • 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.

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 submission deadlines for 2018 are as follows:

  • 8 May 2018 end of business (CEST)
  • 9 October 2018 end of business (CEST)

Funding requests must be submitted in electronic form to space-tech@sbfi.admin.ch and will 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 weeks of the deadline.

Process for fully funded activities (Open Competition)

Fully funded activities issued under Open Competition are evaluated on a rolling basis. Funding requests must be submitted in electronic form to space-tech@sbfi.admin.ch and will be confirmed within 24h of their reception. Incomplete applications will be rejected and will not receive support. Evaluation will take between 4 and 6 weeks. A proactive approach to funding requests for ESA tenders under open competition is thus necessary. Specifically, interested parties are invited to consult ESA's Electronic Tendering System, Category "Intended Invitations to Tender" for upcoming Invitations to Tender (ITTs).

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 must 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.

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).

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 (Workplan, Statement of Work and Global List of intended ITTs), illustrated below

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. 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.

Critical elements of the adjustments

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 

 

Last modification 10.04.2018

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