The European Space Agency (ESA) is one of the most important players on the world's space market after US NASA, but its activities differ greatly from both the American giant and the SpaceX and Blue Origin projects. It could be said that at least from a media point of view ESA is not so much visible on a global scale, even though it is about cooperation of 22 European states, including the Czech Republic.
czechcrunch.com talked to one of ESA leading representatives, Frank Salzgeber, who runs the Technology Transfer Program Office within the organization, about the projects that ESA is currently working on and how it works with the private sphere. Frank also stopped in Prague for his lecture at the Startup World Cup & Summit .
Frank, say at first, what is your work in your Technology Transfer Program Office?
Technology Transfer Program Office is a long enough name for what it really means. I've always told people that I'm the Recycling Officer. The difference, however, is that we do not recycle plastic or glass, but recycle innovation. Our activities are related to the fact that spacecrafts or satellites simply have to work for 10 years and have to fly millions of miles away. Our engineers are very good at making things real, failure is not an option.
Okay, can you mention some of your specific projects?
We do three different things. First, we care about the patents that ESA owns. But there are only a few, because 90% of our budget goes to the private sphere that we support and the patents are passed on to us. Of course, we also have our own engineers and we also have our own patents. Secondly, we have a group of people who are looking at what we have developed and how the thing can help someone else in the wider market.
Then there is the industry where we help startups to apply space technologies or data. Before I came to ESA, I worked for Apple, I had my own startup, so I learnt a lot by being in the business. We started a few years ago with one incubation center in the Netherlands, where we supported 8 companies, and next year we will have 20 centers and I believe in supporting up to 150 companies a year. For Europe, this is a lot.
Read full interview by czechcrunch.com.
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