Guidelines for idea proposals


Idea proposers will be contacted for discussion and clarification of their idea, but submissions should contain enough information to enable an initial assessment of the proposed activity by ESA technical experts.  In preparing  a submission, you should therefore try to:

  • Make a clear statement of the problem to be solved,
  • Identify the application area and corresponding business context for the idea (e.g. a new electric propulsion engine might enable the usage of smaller launchers, or reduce orbital transfer duration, improving time to market),
  • Quantify all the expected benefits (e.g. higher performance, lower complexity, reduced test effort, etc.) both direct and indirect (i.e. at spacecraft platform, payload, satellite, ground segment, or end-to-end system levels),
  • Highlight the proposed technology, technique, or process that will help realise the identified objectives,
  • Describe the current level of technological maturity,
  • Discuss the perceived level of innovation (i.e. does the idea represent a major breakthrough or a progressive evolution?),
  • Highlight other potential market factors: e.g.  technology availability in ARTES Participating States, Independence (e.g. ITAR), technology or material obsolescence, the creation or enhancement of  new applications, services, or missions,
  • Identify which Industrial and Institutional groups could implement an operational solution or might be interested to provide requirements and user needs, or operational, application, or technological constraints,
  • Reference any relevant work previously undertaken (by ESA, other public agencies or bodies, or through private funding),
  • Suggest the required budget and development duration,
  • Identify the major risks and potential mitigation actions.

Idea proposers are not necessarily expected to address all of these aspects in their submission, but each of these points will be addressed by ESA during the idea evaluation phase.


ESA generates work plans based on the ideas received: the ARTES Future Preparations, and the ARTES ScyLight rolling work plan and the ARTES Advanced Technology work plan:

ARTES Future Preparations is the initial stage in the ESA innovation model, where initial technology or system concepts are assessed through study work. The ARTES Future Preparations rolling work plan is continuously updated throughout the year based on ideas received as well as ESA internal research and study. Ideas can therefore be submitted at any time, and the following evaluation criteria will be applied:





The idea is aligned with the strategic objectives of ESA and specifically those of the ARTES programme. I.e. is relevant to developments in the field of satellite communications and realisable within the medium-term, say 5 to 10 years say.


Potential for impact

The proposed idea has an impact that could significantly contribute to the development of the satellite communications sector and will ultimately result in improved competitiveness of participating-state industry.


Completeness and credibility

The proposed concept for development is credible and the description complete:

  • the start and finish points are well understood,
  • the proposed solution or approach is clearly described,
  • activity outputs are identified and are considered technically achievable within the schedule and financial budget identified.

Evidence of industry support for an idea enhances its credibility, as does a clear plan for activity continuation.


Potential for ROI

New activities must have the potential to ultimately lead to the introduction of a new product or service, and most will require subsequent financial investment from industry to bring the idea to market. There must be a reasonable expectation that industry can recover their development costs from future exploitation. In describing an activity you should therefore highlight indirect benefits at higher levels (up to and including satcom system level), such as improved time to market, increased system throughput, or lower operating costs).


Opportunity for ARTES participating state industry

The idea has the potential to ultimately result in commercial business opportunities for companies and organisations based within the ARTES participating states. i.e. it relates to areas where there is (or will be) industrial capability and is applicable to markets that will be accessible by ARTES participating state industry.



The ARTES Advanced Technology work plan is updated yearly.

Ideas for inclusion into the next work plan should be submitted by the end of the first quarter of the year. For the idea submission cut-off date for the next work plan click here.

The key dates for the ARTES Advanced Technology work plan preparation are as follows:

  • End of first Quarter of the Year: Cut-off date of the idea submission for the next work plan
  • April/May: Idea refinement
  • June/July: Formulation of a draft work plan
  • February: Approval of the work plan by the ESA Member States

ARTES ScyLight is the ARTES element dedicated to Optical Communication Technologies. Through it, ESA aims to elaborate a technology roadmap for optical communication technologies, undertaken in close coordination and cooperation with all stakeholders involved: industry, operators, service providers, satellite manufactures, research institutes and other experts in the field. To this end  the ARTES ScyLight rolling work plan is continuously updated throughout the year and ideas can therefore be submitted at any time.