Portuguese companies working and developing technologies in the space area now have another tool for transferring these technologies to the non-space market. The National Space Technology Transfer Initiative (PTTI), launched on October 9, is an ESA initiative, in collaboration with the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) through the Space Office. The implementation of this program will be the responsibility of the Instituto Pedro Nunes, an entity invited by ESA.
PTTI will have a duration of 18 months, and ESA funding of around 200 thousand euros. It includes Call for financing Proof of Concept business plans accompanied by technical feasibility studies for the application of a space technology to a non-space sector) and Demonstrators (prototype tests of technology applied to a non-space sector). The Call is aimed at Portuguese companies working and developing technologies in the space area, meeting some funding needs identified in this type of activity, but also to universities and their research laboratories.
ESA's experience in technology transfer (TT) is vast, with more than 200 space technologies transferred and the creation of several European start-ups projecting into international markets. As part of its Technology Transfer Program, ESA supports the creation of programs to stimulate TT in member countries. PTTI fulfills this mission: it aims to strengthen the competitiveness of the Portuguese space industry and promote technological innovation, supporting and facilitating the transfer of space technology already available to non-space sectors, internationally. In the words of Frank Salzgeber, ESA's Technology Transfer Program Coordinator, "The entities (companies, research centers) competing for PTTI will be Portuguese, but the ideas and technologies will have a global reach.
Portugal has been a Member State of the ESA since November 2000. An impact study on Portugal's participation in ESA indicates that around 60 companies and nearly 20 Portuguese universities have already developed projects with the European Space Agency, with a total of contracts for Portugal exceeding 90 million euros. The Portuguese investment in ESA programs is characterized by a multiplier factor of two: for every one million euros invested in these programs a return of two million euros is generated for the Portuguese space sector. Frank Salzgeber believes that Portugal has the capacity to increase this multiplier factor to 5, placing the country between Norway and the USA.
The Instituto Pedro Nunes (IPN) - Association for Innovation and Development in Science and Technology is a non-profit institution and business incubator leader in technology transfer in the Portuguese innovation sector: it has six technological development laboratories and its business incubator was considered the best in the world in 2011, having supported the creation and development of more than 140 technology-based companies.