Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Satellite communication technologies

Topic identifier: SPACE-15-TEC-2018
Publication date: 27 October 2017

Types of action: RIA Research and Innovation action
Opening date:
31 October 2017
Deadline: 06 March 2018 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Industrial Leadership
Work Programme Year: H2020-2018-2020
Topic Updates
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

The context and customer field of satellite communication services is currently undergoing changes. Broadband TV applications are decreasing in importance and the importance of internet connectivity is increasing. New EU targets have been set to achieve a connectivity of 100 Mbps for all by 2025[1], for which satellite communication solutions are important, for instance in remote and offshore areas, for backhauling, or for mobile users and under emergency situations. The demand for Very High Throughput satellite communications is increasing. The 5G concept combines various access technologies, such as cellular, wireless, satellite and wireline, for delivering reliable performance for critical communications and improve area coverage[2][3] making interconnectivity an important challenge. New markets are emerging, such as for example the connectivity needed for Internet of Things. New mission concepts are currently being established, such as mega constellations or satellite networks based on micro-mini satellites. Finally, security aspects are becoming more and more important, in particular for governmental users of satellite communications. The challenge for the EU is to prepare the ground to maintain the technological leading edge and maintain its global competitiveness in satellite communications in those rapidly changing conditions and markets (e.g. towards and beyond the 1 Tbps high throughput satellites and/or fully flexible satellites)


Proposals shall address one of the following sub-topics:

a) Secure and robust satellite communications, such as key generation and distribution, adapting to quantum technologies, anti-jamming technologies and products, anti-spoofing techniques, advanced coding, signal modulation and cryptography, secured uncoordinated multiple access, threats simulation, secure and robust telemetry, tracking and command (spread spectrum);

b) Bandwidth efficient transmission techniques to serve multiple users with high throughput satellites, e.g. frequency reuse techniques, multiple antenna communications, beamforming, cooperative gateway diversity, user clustering and interference mitigation;

c) High speed processing and flexible and reprogrammable telecommunication payloads, able to adapt to changing service needs such as capacity flexibility and geographic redistribution of the traffic and to satellites integration in the 5G protocol and system. Simulation and end-to-end resources management shall be addressed;

d) Optical communications, including photonics, for very high throughput systems with more than 10 Gbps (e.g. hybrid RF/optical payloads use of optical up- and down links), on-board and ground aspects focusing on feeder links, system and architecture aspects encompassing technologies such as enhanced space-to-ground/RPAS; low complexity on-board processing and limited coherent processing; orbit to ground mission data download focussing on very high throughput optical feeder links (up to 1 Tbps) and very high speed rates optical ground station for feeder links (towards 1Tbps);

e) Flexible broadband passive and active antenna techniques, such as phased array antennas for very high throughput spaceborne or airborne satellite communication applications (consisting of broadband conformal antenna arrays, broadband beamforming and broadband RF front-ends), including multi-beaming smart antennas and integration of antennas in the platform, active antenna critical technologies, lens antenna techniques, 5G dedicated active arrays;

f) Inter-satellite links, data relay solutions and on-board switching, for potential future LEO constellations (including constellations of small satellites), supporting high data rates relay (up to 40 Gbps), including terminals, in such diverse contexts as GEO/MEO to LEO, airborne (including RPAS) to GEO;

g) Advanced RF equipment in terms of higher frequency bands (e.g. Q, V/W) and re-configurability (e.g. GaN HPAs, optimised TWTA, LNAs);

h) Ground systems technologies for satellite communication services and applications: evolution of ground control stations and teleports, also enabling full interoperability with future terrestrial telecommunication networks (including 5G) and optimising performance, coverage, costs, reliability and security in the provision of differentiated services and applications to diverse user categories.

Proposals shall consider enabling technologies and solutions aiming at exploiting the potential synergies between the Satellite Communication domain and the Navigation and Earth Observation domain (such as EO/SatCom hybrid mission satellites, smart satellites, high data rate solutions, high speed links, high performance processors, antennas/reflector/structures, ground segment).

Participation of industry, in particular SMEs, is encouraged.

Activities shall be complementary and create synergy with other European activities in the same domain. Emphasis shall be given to the preparation of future and advanced satellite communications technologies up to TRL 4-5. Technological spin in and/or bilateral collaborations should be enhanced between European non-space and space industries.

To this end, proposals shall include the following tasks:

  • Analysis of relevant available roadmaps, including roadmaps developed in the context of actions for the development of Key Enabling Technologies supported by the Union;
  • Commercial assessment of the supply chain technology in the space or non-space domains and, if applicable, a business plan for commercialisation with a full range (preload) of recurring products.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 2 and 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:
  • To ensure and enhance the life-cycle cost reduction (including manufacturing and operations) and increased performance, resulting in the enhanced competitiveness of the European space manufacturing and service industry in the rapidly evolving field of satellite communication.
  • To develop European research and technology ecosystems consisting of different parties involved in satellite communications, i.e. manufacturers of user equipment, ground segment technologies, service providers and operators, validation and simulation tool developers, and end users.
  • To contribute to the integration of satellite communication into the 5G.
  • Greater industrial relevance of research actions and output as demonstrated by deeper involvement of industry, including SMEs, and stronger take-up of research results.

[1]Commission Communication on: Connectivity for a Competitive Digital Single Market - Towards a European Gigabit Society - COM(2016)587 and Staff Working Document - SWD(2016)300



Topic conditions and documents

1. Eligible countries: described in Annex A of the Work Programme.
A number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects. See the information in the Online Manual.


2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in Annex B and Annex C of the Work Programme.


Proposal page limits and layout: please refer to Part B of the proposal template in the submission system below.


3. Evaluation:

  • Evaluation criteria, scoring and thresholds are described in Annex H of the Work Programme.  
  • Submission and evaluation processes are described in the Online Manual.

4. Indicative time for evaluation and grant agreements:

Information on the outcome of evaluation (single-stage call): maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

5. Proposal templates, evaluation forms and model grant agreements (MGA):

Research and Innovation Action:

Specific provisions and funding rates
Standard proposal template
Standard evaluation form
General MGA - Multi-Beneficiary
Annotated Grant Agreement

6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
Classified information
Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply

Members of consortium are required to conclude a consortium agreement, in principle prior to the signature of the grant agreement.

8. Additional documents:

1. Introduction WP 2018-20
5. Introduction to Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies (LEITs) WP 2018-20
5iii. Space WP 2018-20

General annexes to the Work Programme 2018-2020

Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Regulation of Establishment
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Specific Programme

7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions.

Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

Open access to research data
The Open Research Data Pilot has been extended to cover all Horizon 2020 topics for which the submission is opened on 26 July 2016 or later. Projects funded under this topic will therefore by default provide open access to the research data they generate, except if they decide to opt-out under the conditions described in Annex L of the Work Programme. Projects can opt-out at any stage, that is both before and after the grant signature.

Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they plan to open or share their data, and will not be penalised for opting out.

Open research data sharing applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan.

Projects need to create a Data Management Plan (DMP), except if they opt-out of making their research data open access. A first version of the DMP must be provided as an early deliverable within six months of the project and should be updated during the project as appropriate. The Commission already provides guidance documents, including a template for DMPs. See the Online Manual.

Eligibility of costs: costs related to data management and data sharing are eligible for reimbursement during the project duration.

The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.


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