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 will adapt the national processes and procedures[2]. These adjustments will bring the procedures in line with the objectives and measures of the Swiss Space Implementation plan. They will also take into account the current budgetary capabilities and constraints, the strategic framework presented in the SSIP, and will allow Switzerland to secure and pursue the policy of excellence and competitiveness in space-related R&D.

To facilitate the introduction of these changes, the Swiss Space Office will implement a transition phase for funding requests under ESA co-funded, Industry initiated activities[1]. This period aims to create a stable, level-playing
field for all actors interested in space-related R&D, and to synchronise our national procedures with ESA.

The transition phase started on December 15, 2017 and has a foreseen duration of three months. The timeline is as follows:

  • 15.12.2017: Start of the transition phase
  • February 2018: First information about critical elements of the adjustments
  • 16.3.2018: End of the transition phase, Information at SEFRI, Einsteinstrasse 2, 3003 Bern, from 14:00-15:30
    (Please note the change of date)

Please take note of the following elements that apply to funding requests during this period:

  • Suspension of decisions related to ESA co-funded activities[1]: Until the end of the transition phase, and until the
    publication of the adjusted rules and guidelines, the Delegation will take no decisions related to co-funded activities. Any funding request submitted to the Swiss Space Office in this period will be on hold until the end of the transition phase. It will be subject to the adjusted rules that we will communicate at the end of the transition phase.
  • Grandfathering: For mature funding requests already under discussion with ESA and the Swiss Space Office, we
    foresee a "grandfathering" period of 6 weeks, starting immediately, for decision taking according to the current rules. This is subject to formal acceptance of these mature funding request under existing rules.[3]
  • Activities under Open Competition: The procedures for funding requests for activities under Open Competition remain unchanged. Funding requests for activities under Open Competition continue to be evaluated and decided according to the guidelines in force (See below).

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 upcoming 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, with the first deadline in Q2 (End of April/beginning of May 2018).
  • 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 
Details about these principles, requirements for future funding requests and the process and formalities will be presented at the information event planned on 
 
March 16, 2018 from 14:00-15:30 at the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI, Einsteinstrasse 2, 3003 Bern

 


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.

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).

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.

Generally,a funding request, including discussions and necessary refinements, can take between 6-8 weeks. 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.

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 above.

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.

Last modification 19.02.2018

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