In 2021 Lithuania became an associate member of the European Space Agency (ESA), and now the country has taken another step towards integration into the global space ecosystem. The European Space Agency Business Incubator (ESA BIC Lithuania) has been launched in Lithuania, which will bring together space start-ups, provide them with technical and expert assistance and support the development of innovative products. The incubator will allocate EUR 500,000 to fund start-ups until 2027. Associate membership of ESA and the incubator’s activities will help Lithuania to become a full-fledged member of the European Space Agency (ESA).
“We have a huge potential in the space sector that needs to be nurtured and strengthened, which is why we continue to invest in this area. This incubator will become an accelerator for the space industry, expanding the range of space-related companies. Over the next five years, the incubator should select and support 25 promising start-ups and help them develop their ideas into value-added businesses. This will help us achieve our goal of growing the space sector tenfold in a few years,” said Aušrinė Armonaitė, Minister of the Economy and Innovation.
The Visoriai Information Technology Park has been selected as the coordinator of the ESA BIC Lithuania and has signed an agreement with the European Space Agency. On the basis of this agreement, the incubator will operate in Vilnius and Kaunas – Visoriai Information Technology Park and Kaunas Tech Park respectively.
The incubated companies in Visoriai Information Technology Park and Kaunas Tech Park will have access to technical and consultancy support. It is planned that, in addition to the favourable conditions for product development, each start-up operating in the ESA BIC Lithuania incubators in Vilnius and Kaunas will receive EUR 50,000 in funding. Start-ups incubated in Vilnius will be eligible for an additional EUR 25,000 in funding from the Vilnius City Municipality.
ESA BIC is the largest network of business incubators in Europe, bringing together more than 1,100 start-ups from different European countries. Currently, 23 ESA Business Incubation Centres operate in 18 ESA Member States. Each ESA BIC incubator is managed by a local operator who connects start-ups, universities, research centres, in-country businesses, government organisations, and investors in a value chain.
The Ministry of the Economy and Innovation has prepared a concept for the development of the Lithuanian space sector, which sets the goal of increasing the country’s space sector tenfold to amount to 1% of the GDP by 2027.
There are more than 30 companies involved in space supply chains in Lithuania, each with an average sales revenue of EUR 500,000. The number of space companies in Lithuania is expected to grow more than 2.5 times in 5 years.
Lithuania has a strong track record in space, and the solutions by Lithuanian companies developing space technologies are well-known in Europe and worldwide. Geomatrix processes earth observation satellite data and develops a range of services for agriculture, while NanoAvionics, founded by Lithuanians, is the world’s largest manufacturer of small satellites. Laser and optics technology companies have been active in the global space ecosystem for years as well.