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Thales Alenia Space Italia and Regione Lazio launched the Smart Integration Satellite Capability challenge

April 29th, 2024
The challenge seeks solutions and technologies that make it possible to develop smart factories based on integrated lines for small satellites.

The Space Factory 4.0 programme of the Italian National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR), financed by the European Union and managed by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), aims to set up a network of factories, connected to the production chain, dedicated to the manufacture of small satellites and spread throughout the country, from north to south. An integrated system of innovative technologies that will enable the country system to face the challenges of the Space Economy, and stand as an international excellence in the satellite constellation sector.

With over forty years of experience and a unique combination of skills, competencies and cultures, Thales Alenia Space provides high-tech solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, scientific research and orbital infrastructure. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space together with Telespazio forms the "Space Alliance" strategic partnership, offering a complete set of services.

The challenge for start-ups and SMEs

The new challenge presented by Regione Lazio, through Lazio Innova, and Thales Alenia Space Italia is titled "Smart Integration Satellite Capability" and is aimed at identifying and proposing solutions - also in terms of technologies - that make it possible to develop smart factories based on integrated Assembly, Integration and Test (AIT) lines to be used on the on-board components of small satellites, with a mass at launch of less than 50 kg and/or between 50 and 250 kg up to a maximum of 300 kg, to be developed in an innovative, open and digitalised logic. The aim is to demonstrate that their use enables a production capacity of at least 1 satellite per day.

In particular, solutions are sought for three application areas:

  1. automatic (unmanned) assembly of elementary satellite modules in a factory environment; 

  2. reduction in the weight and cost of wiring present on satellites to date, together with increased ease of assembly using automatic systems (cobot/robots); 

  3. reduction in size (volume), mass and cost of mechanical structures supporting solar cells and satellite antennae.

Four types of companies established in Italy can apply for the challenge: 

  • innovative start-ups registered in the appropriate sections of the Companies' Register; 

  • other start-ups established for no more than 60 months; 

  • SMEs and innovative SMEs; 

  • spin-offs from universities or research centres.

Interested parties can apply via the dedicated challenge platform, available in Italian language, on which the full rules of the initiative are also available. Proposals can be submitted until 12:00 CEST of Monday, May 13th, 2024.

The prizes

The challenge of Regione Lazio and Thales Alenia Space Italia offers several opportunities: a co-design path of at least four meetings, aimed at focusing on the candidate innovative solutions, and prizes for the best proposals. At the end of the mentorship path, in fact, participants will present their final innovative solution proposals at a dedicated awards event - "Open Innovation Day" - during which Lazio Innova will award prizes:

  • 1st prize: a cash prize worth €20,000 and direct access to the Go to market Programme and specialised services

  • 2nd and 3rd prize: direct access to the Go to market Programme and specialised services at Spazio Attivo.

Awards in specialised services are aimed at the development and implementation of the project/product and related to business management and planning; intellectual property protection; marketing and communication; financial engineering tools (access to credit, crowdfunding, national measures, accelerators, etc.); product engineering (from MVP to prototype or from prototype to product).

In addition, Thales Alenia Space Italia in collaboration with Lazio Innova will offer all the winners: 

  • experimentation of the proposed solution at Thales Alenia Space Italia and in particular at its FabLab (subject to available equipment), for a period of no more than 1 week for each of the selected ideas. At the end of the trial, a presentation of the results achieved will be made. 

  • For innovative start-ups and SMEs, inclusion in the Thales Group database for monitoring these players and promotion at the Thales Group and Leonardo Group investment vehicles.

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