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Supply chains are integral to many different sectors. Automatizing operations, ensuring the safe and secure transport of goods, and adopting environmentally friendly processes are becoming increasingly important in supply chain management. These services must use at least one type of space technology, like satellite imagery, maps, satellite navigation (GPS or similar) or satellite communications. 

ESA Space Solutions is issuing a kick start which will offer up to 64K Euro zero equity funding per activity to develop new services that enhance supply chain management. These services must use at least one type of space technology, like satellite imagery, maps, satellite navigation (GPS or similar) or satellite communications. 

To apply, you will be redirected to the ESA Space Solutions platform.




Supply chains can be complex and often involve the management of a vast range of activities. Some sectors face significant challenges: short shipping times demanded by customers put huge pressure on retailers to solve the last mile problem, getting fresh and perishable goods rapidly into stores remains a key target to maximise shelf life and reduce waste, and consumers are demanding transparency about product sources. Natural disasters and political instability can significantly disrupt the sourcing and transportation of goods, while other regions face challenges because they are remote, lack infrastructure, or are missing important data.



Supply chains relate to every sector, and each has its own challenges. New services could cover:


Smart shipping

  • Development of unmanned ground, airborne or maritime/fluvial cargo delivery in urban and remote areas. 
  • Use of new technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things and blockchain, to optimise shipping resources and reduce time delivery and costs.

Green shipping

  • Operational energy efficiency improvement, emissions reduction and transition to electric vehicles and semi-automated driving technology. Connected and semi-automated vehicles, truck platooning and AI or Machine Learning (ML) enabled vehicles tracking and tracing for route optimisation can contribute significantly to these objectives.
  • Development of enhanced and efficient carbon footprint measurement and reporting to foster eco-labelling scheme deployment and enforcement.

Safe shipping

  • Use of goods’ unique identifiers, sensing technologies and IoT for real-time goods tracking and tracing. 
  • Use of distributed ledger technology (i.e. blockchain) for efficiently tracking, aggregating and sharing supply-chain data among the involved stakeholders. 
  • Development of U-Space services and systems in support to the development of airborne drone (cargo) delivery. U-Space services are aimed at allowing safe, efficient and secure access to airspace for large numbers of drones.

Humanitarian shipping

  • Use of tracing technologies to enhance the safety and security of goods (from the private and humanitarian sectors) for transport in areas at risks as well as for preventing fraud.
  • Use of drones in hard-to-reach rural communities for low-cost and fast delivery of medical supplies, commercial goods, emergency aid, etc. 
  • Setting-up of remote training tools to promote utilisation of ICT on all aspects of supply chain management.

Supply chain insights

  • Use of satellite imagery and complementary data sources to provide unique, timely insights on operations for traders and market analysts.  

To find out more on the topics of interest, and also on ENEL smart-chain related challenges, visit this link.



ESA Kick-Start Activities expand on the business opportunity and technical viability of new services that use one or more space assets, like Satellite Communications, Satellite Navigation, and Earth Observation.

This call for Kick-Start Activities is dedicated to the theme "Smart Supply Chain", which means that the call is open to companies that intend to develop space-enabled applications and services to enhance supply chain management.

The "Smart Supply Chain" will be processed by ESA following a competitive tendering procedure, which is tailored to low- to medium-value procurement actions.

The companies selected by ESA for contract award will receive funding and support from the European Space Agency to run a 6-month feasibility study. The aim of the study will be to develop the proposed service by investigating the technical feasibility of the idea, creating a business plan, and engaging with potential customers. Teams can choose to build a proof-of-concept too.

Small-to-Medium companies (SMEs) will receive up to €64,000 of ESA funding (80% ESA co-funding).

Non-SMEs will receive up to €60,000 of ESA funding (75% ESA co-funding).



The main deliverables of the study are:

  • Service requirements determined from user engagement
  • Service and system architecture definition from the technical feasibility assessment
  • Business plan from the economic viability assessment

Challenge rules

All proposers are invited to read carefully the instruction available at ESA dedicated web page and download the official tender documentation from ESA EMITS (http://emits.sso.esa.int).



The Smart Supply Chain kick start call is open to any company or organisation based in the following European countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

The idea must use a space asset, such as satellite navigation, Earth observation, or satellite communication data or technologies.

The proposals will be admitted until May 27, 2020 and the evaluation will start after this date.

What happens next?

How to Apply:

  1. Teams are first requested to Register by completing online questionnaire on ESA-STAR Registration (minimum ‘light registration’).
  2. Download the official tender documentation from ESA EMITS from 15 April 2020. Create ‘Bidder Restricted Area’ in ESA-STAR.
  3. Write your proposal and obtain Letter of Authorization from your National Delegation. Contact information can be found at: https://business.esa.int/national-delegations.
  4. Submit your proposal via ‘Bidder Restricted Area’ in ESA-STAR Tendering before the deadline (27 May 2020).


ESA will evaluate the proposal using the following criteria:

  • Technical feasibility of the proposed solution
  • Identification of a market opportunity and potential users
  • Business and Economic potential of concept
  • Level of Innovation
  • Added value of space data and technologies
  • Experience and aptitude of the team

The competition will follow a competitive tendering procedure, where proposals will be evaluated and weighted.

As the end of the assessment, successful and unsuccessful teams will be notified and will receive detailed feedback.



The European Space Agency (ESA) is dedicated to the peaceful exploration and use of space for the benefit of humankind. ESA comprises 22 Member States and aims to push the frontiers of science and technology, and promote economic growth in Europe. There are around 2200 staff working for ESA, from all the Member States and include scientists, engineers, information technology specialists and administrative personnel. ESA's budget for 2019 was €5.72 billion.


ESA’s Space Solutions

ESA Space Solutions is the go-to place for great business ideas involving space in all areas of society and economy. Its mission is to support entrepreneurs in Europe in the development of businesses using satellite applications and space technology.