European Space Agency chooses Flemish company as tech partner


To co-ordinate its ambitious Technology Transfer Program, the ESA has chosen to work with Verhaert of Kruibeke in a contract worth millions

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The European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded a contract worth millions of euros to a company in East Flanders, to co-ordinate its new Technology Transfer Program.

Verhaert, based in Kruibeke, will co-ordinate the elaborate programme, which should lead to a higher return on investment for the billions the ESA spends every year. “Thanks to this contract, we will be propelled instantly to become one of the leading players in Europe with respect to technology transfer and incubation of technological starters,” CEO Koen Verhaert said when the contract award was announced last week.

R&D in space technology often leads to pioneering breakthroughs and surprising applications in everyday life. Less noisy wind turbines and quick blood and urine tests are two examples of innovations that have arisen from European space research programmes. The ESA believes European industry can still benefit much more from such research

Verhaert will use a specific approach and programme, called TechXfer. This differs from the classical method of technology valorisation in two ways: by diverging from a technology “push model” to a user-focused “pull model”, and through an integration of the complete chain – from opportunity creation to feasibility research, to the development and construction of demonstrators and prototypes.

The company is one of the pillars of Flanders’ space-flight engineering sector and is known for its construction of a series of microsatellites used by ESA for Earth observation, known as the Proba family.

Photo courtesy European Space Agency