The European Commission-funded SURE project is presenting extraordinary new research opportunities in space, primarily for Eastern European countries, where a strong community of researchers and industry has so far not had access to the International Space Station. Potential participants are urged to respond to an official Announcement of Opportunity now.

The International Space Station (ISS) represents a unique infrastructure for performing research in conditions of weightlessness unachievable on the ground, and for developing and testing new products and innovative technologies. From life and physical sciences to health and nutrition, the facilities and resources available onboard the ISS not only allow scientists to carry out groundbreaking research, but also offer companies the opportunity to increase their competitive advantage, using the space environment as a platform for applied R&D and technology demonstrations.

Working in co-operation with the European Space Agency (ESA), the Commission is broadening access to the Station to a wider international community, with priority going to scientists and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the new EU Member States.

Project coordinators at ESA say the four-year SURE project is advancing the more effective utilisation and greater development of European research infrastructure, and further fostering a closer relationship between ESA and the European Union

Targeting European competitiveness

“This is the first time that scientists from Eastern European countries will be able to carry out applied research as principle investigators,” explains Maurizio Belingheri, ESA’s Head of Commercial Utilisation. “And we are especially interested in the involvement of their SMEs. This is about work with commercial potential, relating to real products, processes and services.”

ESA launched a wide-ranging information campaign with a successful debut event in Prague, Czech Republic, on 31 January 2006. Since then, SURE has toured seven of the new EU Member States plus Romania and Bulgaria.

The SURE initiative (International Space Station: a unique research infrastructure) is being co-funded by the European Commission under the ‘Aeronautics and Space’ priority of the Sixth Framework Programme for R&D. The project, worth €2 million, was first announced in November 2005.

How to participate

Scientists and SMEs are now being called upon to submit scientific or industrial proposals, respectively. The SURE Announcement of Opportunity (AO) is open to scientists and SMEs from EU Member States and Associated States, with priority given to new EU Member States (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia), and two acceding ones (Romania and Bulgaria).

To respond to the SURE AO, go to ESA’s official SURE Announcement of Opportunity web page, at, or write to the following e-mail address:

More information:

ESA’s ‘SURE on the road’ web page

ESA’s ‘ISS Business’ web page