European Space Agency and GSMA Foundry Forge Ahead with Partnership, including funding opportunities to help the industry pioneer new innovations in terrestrial-satellite communication

Barcelona, Spain – 26 February 2024: The European Space Agency (ESA) and GSMA Foundry today announced a series of new initiatives – including up to €15 million in funding opportunities – to help the mobile and satellite industries collaborate on developing new, innovative satellite and terrestrial networks technologies.

Launched at MWC Barcelona 2024, the partnership will focus on five key areas of innovation to help telecommunications companies develop new services for society bringing together terrestrial and satellite communications. The initiatives are also designed to help open up new revenue streams previously not possible. New research by GSMA Intelligence estimates that new innovations in satellite can bring an additional $30–35 billion in income to the industry by 2035, equivalent to a boost of 2.0–2.5% to the current mobile revenue base.

The five key initiatives announced today are:

  1. GSMA Foundry and ESA jointly launch a series of challenges, starting with up to €15 million in ESA funding opportunities, to help stimulate innovation and project development.
  2. Expansion of Lab Network Access, for Foundry participants who want to collaborate at ESA’s 5G/6G Hub in Harwell, UK and 5G/6G Telecom Lab in Noordwijk, Netherlands.
  3. Launch of a new GSMA Advance training course, to grow knowledge about, and support collaboration between, terrestrial and non-terrestrial networks.
  4. Launch of the Non-Terrestrial Network (TN-NTN) Community to develop new projects and plot a roadmap for future initiatives and activities.
  5. Ecosystem unification, the GSMA Foundry and ESA will work with and invite the wider industry to unify efforts towards seamless TN and NTN interworking.

Antonio Franchi, ESA’s Head of the 5G/6G Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) Programme Office, said: “ESA is proud to partner with the GSMA on a variety of impactful initiatives in our commitment to advance connectivity solutions, through the integration of satellite and terrestrial networks. One of ESA’s aims is to connect everyone, everywhere and at any time, and this powerful collaboration with GSMA is a significant step in advancing the mobile and satellite communications industries.

Franchi added: “In addition, we are excited to be showcasing ESA’s work through a variety of interactive features at the GSMA Pavilion and are looking forward to interacting with the attendees of MWC!”

Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer at the GSMA, said: “We want this partnership with ESA to help unlock the huge benefits satellite and terrestrial telecommunications networks can bring for businesses and consumers, by ensuring they’re closer connected.

“By working together, we can help the communications industry bring innovative solutions to market, which in turn will create tremendous benefits to society. We look forward to launching new opportunities for the market, throughout the year, that can help drive forward the market and innovation.”

The ambition of the partnership is to further strengthen the competitiveness of both mobile and satellite network industries, by creating an ecosystem which can fast-track the development of new complimentary technology solutions for businesses and consumers. The two organisations will join efforts to speed-up innovation when it comes to integrating satellite communications with 5G and future 6G networks.

GSMA Foundry will work closely with ESA’s 5G/6G Hub, based at ESA’s European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT) based in Harwell, Oxfordshire. The ESA Hub brings together the satellite industry to work on new collaborative and innovative programmes. Benefiting from the support of the UK Space Agency (UKSA) the Hub fits into the UK Government’s 5G and 6G strategy.

ESA x Foundry Challenges: Fuelling Innovation with up to €15 Million in Funding opportunities

In a bid to stimulate innovation and project development, GSMA Foundry and ESA have jointly launched a series of challenges, starting with up to €15 million in ESA funding opportunities. This includes a “Mobility Challenge” focusing on areas such as smart antenna development and 5G interfaces and cross sector applicability; as well as GSMA Open Gateway challenge focused on developing new APIs, which can fuel new use cases for enterprise developers.

Labs Network: Access and Development

The partnership is expanding access to ESA’s 5G/6G Hub in Harwell, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom and ESA 5G/6G Telecoms Lab at Noordwijk in The Netherlands, with GSMA Foundry enabling projects and pilots to leverage these state-of-the-art facilities. Participants can share and develop project ideas, with GSMA Foundry actively seeking to grow the NTN Lab network further.

GSMA Advance: TN-NTN Course Launch

Working with ESA and other industry partners, GSMA Advance is set to launch a dedicated Non-Terrestrial (NTN) training course to support the development of the ecosystem. It will ensure that industry professionals are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in this evolving market.

Community Engagement and Collaboration

The launch of the Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) Community, open to all GSMA members, will bring together Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), Satellite Network Operators (SNOs) and other relevant stakeholders. This initiative invites the wider industry to join forces, submit candidate projects, and establish a roadmap for future activities. The first community meeting is scheduled for the end of March.

Unifying the Ecosystem

Both organisations are extending a warm welcome to companies interesting in joining the GSMA to become part of the burgeoning NTN Community.

What to see at MWC Barcelona 2024:

As partners of GSMA Foundry, ESA is showcasing some of its most captivating projects at the GSMA Pavilion at MWC Barcelona 2024. Attendees have the opportunity to delve into the world of NTN technologies, with interactive features such as mixed reality experiences and virtual tours of ESA’s 5G/6G Hub, accessible through the metaverse. Additionally, space experts will be present on-site to engage with visitors. This promises to be an unparalleled experience, providing valuable insights into ESA’s satellite telecommunications initiatives and driving NTN activities in Europe.

GSMA Intelligence, sponsored by ESA and other industry partners, is hosting a Satellite and Non-Terrestrial Networks Summit on Wednesday 28 February from 15:00 to 18:00 CET. It will be a pivotal platform for discussing the integration of satellite and terrestrial networks and unveiling the GSMAi’s new “Global Trends” report. For more information on the partnership and the upcoming initiatives, please visit the GSMA Foundry website.



About the European Space Agency:

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia are Associate Members.

ESA has established formal cooperation with four Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes as well as with Eumetsat for the development of meteorological missions.

Learn more about ESA at

About GSMA:

The GSMA is a global organization unifying the mobile ecosystem to discover, develop and deliver innovation foundational to positive business environments and societal change. Our vision is to unlock the full power of connectivity so that people, industry, and society thrive. Representing mobile operators and organizations across the mobile ecosystem and adjacent industries, the GSMA delivers for its members across three broad pillars: Connectivity for Good, Industry Services and Solutions, and Outreach. This activity includes advancing policy, tackling today’s biggest societal challenges, underpinning the technology and interoperability that make mobile work, and providing the world’s largest platform to convene the mobile ecosystem at the MWC and M360 series of events.

We invite you to find out more at