The General Support Technology Programme addresses new needs and emerging applications. Its objectives are to enable activities at ESA and National Programmes by developing technology, to support the competitiveness of UK and European industry, foster innovation and transfer non-space technology (spin-in) to use in the design of new space systems and enhance European technology non-dependence and the availability of European resources for critical technologies.
The GSTP is split in to three elements:
Element 1 – Develop
Element 2 – Make
Element 3 – Fly
Please visit here for further information on each element.
The UK has subscribed €40m at the 2019 Space19+ to the ESA General Support Technology Programme. This programme covers all technology projects (with the exception of Telecoms payloads).
There are two basic routes through which GSTP projects are initiated:
- The classic route is activities proposed by ESA, these are listed in a themed compendia and are available online on the ESA’s online tendering system EMITS http://emits.sso.esa.int Projects which attract the interest of one or more Member States are then generally proposed for approval by the ESA Industrial Policy Committee (IPC), following which Member States are invited to subscribe funding to individual activities within a relatively short timescale. An ITT (or in some cases direct negotiation) will then be initiated by ESA and these can also be found on EMITS.
Please note – Member States endorse the project – not the company that has indicated interest in the activity.
- The second route, which is becoming increasingly popular, is for activities that are proposed directly by companies (including start-ups and SMEs) or research organisations, proposals must be supported by the Member State as unsolicited applications directly to ESA will not be considered. Smaller de-risk activities (under €200k) are not subject to IPC approval, however, larger projects will require match funding and approval by IPC. To endorse a potential UK project UKSA needs to appraise its merit. The governance procedure looks at projects proposed and decides whether to reject, accept, or review them pending further information.
- The procedure for which takes account of the way in which GSTP is run by ESA, and ensures that robust, but timely, decisions can be made to underpin an optimum portfolio of UK projects. Proposals may be made by collaborations, across industry with or without academic institutions’ involvement, which may include involvement companies and organisations from other ESA Member States. However, should a collaboration include a party from another Member State that participant will need to secure their support.
- UK industry including start-ups and SMEs, universities and research organisations are invited to engage with the UKSA GSTP team to discuss their areas of interest including activities listed in the GSTP compendia, potential De-risk, building block activities and ITTs that have been issued. When contacting the UKSA GSTP team they will be required to supply a completed Expression of Interest (EOI) form.
- De-risk activities are smaller projects with a maximum level of support of €200k. The purpose of these is to de-risk a larger activity by focusing on the higher risk elements. There is no guarantee that UKSA will support the follow-on activity as this is dependent on the recommendation received from the ESA technical department, as well as the view of the Review Panel once the Statement of Interest (SOI) for the follow-on activity has been received and assessed. Building block activities have a maximum limit of €500k and match funding is not required
- They will then be required to submit a completed SOI form, which will be assessed by each member of the Review Panel. Review panel meetings will be held a minimum of four times per year.
- Representatives from across UKSA including members of the technology team will form the basis in the Review Panel, which will consist of a minimum of five participants. The panel is chaired by the Head of Technology with information provided by the GSTP Programme Manager.
- Where a proposal has been received which does not relate to a Compendia activity or an ITT, section 2 of the SOI will be reviewed by the ESA Technical Team, who will provide an initial assessment for consideration by the panel.
- The panel will be responsible for recommending which projects UKSA should support through the GSTP programme with the final decision being made by the UKSA GSTP Team in accordance with the Technology Team’s strategic priorities.
The approvals flow chart summarises this procedure and outlines the subsequent endorsement and implementation route that will be managed by the GSTP Team.
In order for a GSTP project to be endorsed by the UK Space Agency, a completed Expression of Interest (EOI) form should be submitted prior to initiating discussions, followed by a completed Statement of Interest (SOI) describing the proposed project.
The completed SOI will provide factual evidence and will be used as the project assessment. Section 1 will be considered by the UKSA review panel and Section 2 will be appraised by the ESA Technical Department. Section 2 should NOT be completed when responding to an activity listed in the Compendia or an ITT.
SOIs are required by UKSA to help plan its investment in the ESA GSTP programme. The information provided will be treated as commercially sensitive but may be used within the Agency to enhance awareness of UK capabilities. The relevant parties will be fully consulted prior to publication of any part of the information.
Once the SOI proforma has been completed it should be submitted electronically in Word format to GSTP@ukspaceagency.gov.uk.
The decision of the UK Space Agency is final. Please ensure that your application form is fully completed, and it does not exceed the maximum number of pages stated on the application form. Annexes are permitted but are unlikely be reviewed by the panel due to the high number of applications which are being assessed. Minimal feedback can be requested with no course for appeal. Follow-up information, in the form of case studies will be required on completion of successful GSTP projects.
The following criteria will be applied by the GSTP review panel when assessing each proposal to ensure it aligns with the Technology Team’s strategic priorities:
- Is this an existing unique UK capability or role, or does it follow-on from previous support?
- Is it needed for an area that has already been identified as of high strategic importance to the UK?
- Is there potential to develop UK leadership in this area?
- Is there competition for the development within the UK, Europe or elsewhere?
- Are there UK and/or global societal benefits?
- Is this a collaborative proposal utilising other companies’ strengths either within the UK or with other countries?
- Is the development related to a specific launch opportunity?
- Will the UK lose out to competitors if it does not invest in the project?
- Does the company have the capability to deliver the project?
- Will the development proceed regardless of UKSA support or will/can it be funded from other sources?
- What is/are the potential market(s)?
- If the UK does not currently have a lead role, how essential is the development?
- If the development is related to another UKSA programme, what is the priority of the related programme?
- Is it a co-funded project requiring a lower level of Agency investment relative to the return?
Risks and Issues
- What is the risk-investment ratio?
- What is the stability of any partnerships involved?
- What is the likelihood of achieving the project aims within the budget?
- Can the development be phased or is it an ‘all or nothing’ type of investment?
- What are the likely consequences of not providing support?
- Is value for money being adequately demonstrated?
Technology and Innovation
- Is this a disruptive, game-changing technology?
- What is the USP?
- Does this add to the UK’s supply chain capability?
- What are the start and end TRL levels?
- Are new skills being developed and utilised? To help build the UK skills capability