EOcafe: Cassini Initiative – How EC Supports “Space” SMEs & Start-Ups to Grow

Through the adoption of the new Space Programme, the European Union has taken a large step towards encouraging the space sector in Europe. Geared towards satisfying public needs for space infrastructure and services, the programme also marks strong support for the commercial sector and its ability to develop business in Europe and around the world.

Europe is not alone and both public but especially private sector investment in space business has blossomed in recent years. This has highlighted the problem that many space companies, especially small and medium enterprises (SME’s) which dominate the Earth Observation (EO) services sector, still have difficulty in raising finance as in general funds are not of the appropriate scale and are hard to access. As a result, the European Commission (EC) together with European Parliament (EP° underlined the necessity to support “European industry with long-term public investment and to ensure that space SMEs and start-ups in the EU can access private capital[1].

More recently, the economic pressures and the new challenges unleashed by the Covid-19 pandemic, meant that a new initiative to promote the private sector in space was even more necessary. It is against this background that the “CASSINI” initiative is being launched representing a major effort by the EU to support “space” SMEs and Start-Ups at critical stages of their development.

The Cassini Space Entrepreneurship Initiative 2021-2027, to be managed by DG DEFIS, aims to support European space-based businesses and New Space companies. This comprehensive initiative is structured to support space-based entrepreneurs according to the three following pillars: 

  • boosting all components of the EU Space programme
  • offering actions adapted to the entrepreneurial lifecycle
  • covering both upstream and downstream[2]

In this context, many opportunities related to the CASSINI initiative can be envisaged and there is a lot of interest from the private sector to discover exactly what this can offer.

This EOcafe will elaborate on the goals and objectives of the CASSINI initiative and on how the private sector could benefit from it.

Our host, Geoff SAWYER EARSC’s Strategic Advisor and former Secretary General will discuss with Tomas JONSSON, Team Leader – Cassini team from DG DEFIS, European Commission the following:

  • What is the CASSINI’s project about? And how will CASSINI help in bringing the EO communities closer together?
  • What issues is the CASSINI initiative aiming to solve? Which are the high levels priorities in its agenda?
  • How will the CASSINI initiative bridge the scaling up of start-ups in the space community?
  • How can we meet this challenge?
  • How can companies get involved in the CASSINI Open Calls?
  • Which are the rewards for the successful applicants of the CASSINI Open Calls?

This webinar is open to ALL but priority will be given to EARSC members. Registration is free but compulsory. Please click on the following link to register.

EOcafe Registration

Please note this is a virtual event!

EOcafe is part of a series of EARSC meetings that offer timely, relevant, and practical information on a broad variety of topics related to the EO sector. Join us every two weeks to discuss and network while enjoying a cup of coffee with friends.


  • The use of a video camera is not mandatory but encouraged to facilitate better interaction among the attendees and the guest speaker(s).
  • The EOcafe will stay open after 17:00 in case our guests want to continue the discussion.
  • By registering for this event, you accept the terms and conditions (https://earsc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/EARSC_Events_GDPR.pdf).

If you have any questions, and/or you want to know more about the EOcafe, and/or you want to share an idea about a future EOcafe, please contact Natassa (Natassa.antoniou@earsc.org).

[1] See more: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2020/653620/EXPO_IDA(2020)653620_EN.pdf

[2] See more: https://ec.europa.eu/defence-industry-space/eu-space-policy/space-research-and-innovation/cassini_en

Author: EARSC

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