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ESA boosts space entrepreneurship in Turin

Innovative start-up companies that use space to develop thriving businesses will receive support from an ESA-backed business incubation centre that has just opened in Turin, Italy.

The centre was officially inaugurated in an opening ceremony held on 10 November at the Polytechnic of Turin.

Entrepreneurs based at the centre will receive financial support and advice on how to grow their businesses. These can either build equipment for use in space or use space data to create brand new products and services on Earth, such as environmental monitoring, mobility, logistics and precision agriculture.

Staff at the ESA BIC Turin, as the centre is called, will encourage entrepreneurship by running regular competitions for businesses to join the centre.

The start-up companies will receive €50,000 for product development and intellectual property management, as well as business coaching and mentoring services, technological support, fundraising support and access to ESA BIC Turin’s extensive partner network, which includes large companies, investment funds and research institutions.

The incubator is supported by ESA and the Italian Space Agency, ASI, and was generated from the synergy between the Incubator of the Polytechnic of Turin I3P, the Polytechnic of Turin and the Links Foundation.

The centre will build on the consolidated experience of I3P in the world of innovative start-ups, on the strong scientific skills of the technological partners and on the support of a large team of local representatives in the institutional, industrial and financial sphere.

The Piedmont Region will provide grants for new start-ups generated locally or attracted to the territory. The Turin Chamber of Commerce will provide financial support for the management of the centre. The Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation will operate as the main support with a multi-year contribution aimed at covering the operating expenses of the ESA BIC Turin programme, and by activating innovative investment tools to support the technological development and the growth of the future start-up companies.

The centre will also see the involvement of numerous financial operators active in different stages of development of start-ups, with the aim of offering investment opportunities from seed money to capital for growth and internationalisation.

The Club degli Investitori, LIFTT, RedSeed, the aerospace fund Primo Space, NEVA Sgr, RIF-T, Finpiemonte Partecipazioni, CDP Venture Capital and Intesa San Paolo Innovation Center have chosen to support the project. In particular, the Intesa San Paolo group will make available specific credit lines for new companies incubated in the centre.

Géraldine Naja, Director of Commercialisation, Industry and Procurement at ESA, said: “ESA towards its Agenda 2025 is fully committed to boost commercialisation for a green and digital future. My directorate CIP has a key role to play in the implementation of the ESA vision. We are working on three pillars: talents, speed and capital! Our focus on business innovation makes the ESA BICs family an important actor in the ecosystem and we warmly welcome the new ESA BICs Turin, another brick in the wall of excellence!”

Giuseppe Scellato, President of I3P and coordinator of ESA BIC Turin, said: “The space economy represents a field characterised by significant potential repercussions in various industrial sectors through the development of new products, services and business models based on the use of space data and infrastructures. New start-ups can contribute significantly to this process. The ESA BIC Turin’s goal is to create value for the incubated start-ups, through strategic support and connection with industrial, financial and research organisations.”

Guido Saracco, Rector of the Polytechnic of Turin, said: “Aerospace is one of the core areas of PoliTO actions planned for the upcoming years. Our goal is to set up a series of development and innovation districts in Torino, its metropolitan area and the Piedmont region. They would be based on the presence of public and private entities, from start-ups to small and medium-sized enterprises and large firms. In this framework, the ESA BIC Turin project will be key to encourage innovation and boost the entire sector.”

Marco Mezzalama, President of the Links Foundation, said: “We are proud to have been involved in an initiative with such high strategic value for our country and a strong impact on the development of the territory. Links, through its researchers, has always worked in the field of space applications, thanks to its experience in over 20 years of activity at national and international level. ESA BIC Turin represents an opportunity with high added value for different stakeholders, from students and researchers, to institutions, to businesses, creating an important element in the innovation chain. We are therefore happy to be able to provide incubated start-ups with our know-how.”

Mauro Piermaria, Head of Innovation and New Space Economy at ASI, said: “The Italian Space Agency, on the matter of the commercialisation connected to the space, is at the forefront of the European panorama. Our role, in addition to finance some projects, must be the fundamental one of designing an integrated architecture of all the space economy initiatives promoted by national ASI and within ESA, and to develop a system that collaborates with public institutions and models of partnership with private individuals, for their greater effectiveness.”

Stefan Gustafsson, ESA BICs Network Manager, said: “We are very happy to welcome I3P and Polytechnic of Turin as our new partners in the ESA BIC network. The new ESA BIC is also an opportunity for Turin to position itself even stronger as a hub for innovation and space related activities. I would also like to highlight the importance of the ESA BIC network itself. While ESA BIC Turin now can tap into the resources of a pan-European network of ESA BICs, Technology Transfer Brokers and ESA Business Application Ambassadors, the rest of the network also has a new partner with unique capabilities. Together we create Europe’s future in space.”

Roberto Cossu, ESA Space Solutions Country Manager for Italy, said: “We welcome ESA BIC Turin to the ESA Space Solutions Network. This centre will be a great opportunity for the Italian space-related ecosystem. Thanks to the support of the Italian Space Agency, this is the second ESA BIC active in Italy, with ESA BIC Lazio already operating since 2009. ESA Space Solutions is present in the country also with a Business Application Ambassador Platform. All together they will support Italian start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises to develop business using space technologies and data.”

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