The European Space Agency (ESA) is increasing efforts to encourage life science companies to use the International Space Station and other ESA facilities for zero-gravity research, according to ESA officials.

Maurizio Belingheri, head of the Commercialisation Division of the ESA's Dutch-based Directorate of Human Spaceflight, told The Scientist that research projects backed by commercial interests currently account for only 10 to 15% of total ESA life science research projects, with the rest backed by universities and research institutes.

“We would like, in general, for 30% to be commercial research,” he said.

A major component of the ESA commercialization drive will be use of “commercial agents,” he said. The agents would search for life science companies that might benefit from zero-gravity research and then try to convince those companies to submit research applications to ESA.

ESA last year opened bidding from life science–focused firms interested in being the agency's primary commercial...

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