Cornelis (Niels) Eldering

Cornelis (Niels) Eldering
Country The Netherlands
Languages Dutch (Native), German (Native), English (Fluent)
Profession Head of the ESABIC & ΦLabNet Office
Organisation European Space Agency (ESA)


Cornelis Eldering (Niels) is Head of Office within the Commercialisation Department at the European Space Agency. Together with his team, from 2003 until today, he built the largest space entrepreneurial network in the world, i.e. ESA's Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs). He currently leads the office responsible for the ESA BIC network, the ESA ΦLab Network, and ESA's Partnership Initiative for Commercialisation (EPIC).

ESA currently has 29 Business Incubation Centers (ESA BICs) and 10 Technology Brokers across its member states. The primary aim of the ESA BICs is to provide support to entrepreneurs who wish to exploit space-based solutions. Similarly, ESA 's Technology Brokers support established industrial players in both space and non-space markets. The approach has been adopted for similar technology transfer and incubation activities by e.g. STFC, CERN, Fraunhofer and Czech Invest. New to the office's activities is the ΦLabNet, a network of deep tech research centres aiming to use space as a vector for disruptive innovations that lead the way for Europe's endevour in New Space commercialisation. The network is to be rolled out in 2023 and is expected to follow a growth path similar to the ESA BICs.within the Commercialisation Department at the European Space Agency. Together with his team, he is responsible for ESA's Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs), the ESA Technology Transfer broker network and the ESA Industry Alliance.

Niels holds a Master of Science in Business Administration from the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), where he in 2003 completed his research on setting up a strategy for the first ESA Business Incubation Centre. Since then, he was instrumental in evolving and expanding the ESA BICs and Broker network to its current size. Up until his appointment as section head, Niels has chaired over 200 evaluation boards for ESA BIC start-up company selection and evaluated over 3.000 business cases, including ideas filed for the European Satellite Navigation Competition, ACTinSpace and the EC Cassini Hackathons. Passionately engaged in the challenging process from exploration to exploitation of space technology, he regularly provides keynote presentations on conferences as well as guest lectures such as to the CEMS Master in International Management. 

In 2015 he received the RSM Distinguished Alumni Award for Senior Leader due to his efforts in creating benefits for society by engaging business and education with space technology. Besides his career at ESA, Niels is currently also undertaking a Part-Time PhD at the RSM department for Technology and Operations Management and recently published a chapter in an international handbook of research on Business and Technology Incubation and Acceleration. Moreover, together with RSM, the University of St. Gallen and the NOVA Business School, he initiated the Space for Business Executive Education course which brings business professionals, policymakers, entrepreneurs and investors together tho learn about new business models and best practices for for the New Space economy.

Niels is living in the Netherlands with his family and working at ESTEC, the European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk.

"One way of looking at entrepreneurship is to be very inclusive about it when building your team; to be able to organise people around you that complement each other and yourself" - Cornelis Eldering, Digital Demo Day, Duesseldorf 2021

European Space Agency's Technology Transfer Programmes Office
Rotterdam School of Management - Erasmus University Rotterdam
Space for Business Executive Education
The Global Alliance in Management Education
Edgar Elgar Publishing
R&D Management