Yeah, I said it. The guy whose favorite movie is "The Right Stuff" and who could write a whole book on the Mercury program prefers the ESA over NASA. The reason is because ESA cares about outreach in a way that NASA doesn't. ESA does not care if you are the BBC or Science 2.0, if you call someone, they call back. If it involves more than a press release claiming it has 'implications for life on other planets' you are going to be stuck in a maze of bureuacracy.
Go to most science conferences and ESA will be there. They want to talk to the media. Like Avis and its "We Try Harder" campaign decades ago, ESA doesn't take anything for granted. You don't usually think of government, much less the EU, as being transparent, open, and able to cut through red tape, but ESA does.
Now they want to give their research away. They patent about 20 inventions per year and they are currently sitting on around 450 of them covering areas like radio-frequency payloads and systems, structures and pyrotechnics, electromagnetic technologies and techniques, material and processes, robotics, optics, electrical power and propulsion.
And they would like to give them to you. For free.
European companies (and Canada) in the space industry can non-exclusive access free of charge through its Technology Transfer Programme Office. Companies outside ESA Member States, or those with non-space applications, can get access on a royalty basis.
They really want to give this stuff away so they are inviting more companies to give it a shot. You have two weeks to do it so get cracking. You don't even need to write a proposal, just fill out a template. Here is what their portfolio looks like:
The list of ESA patents is available here.
The process is simple. Fill out the application, and if you are not a crackpot or are not violating the restrictions and have a viable idea, they will arrange a discussion. If all that goes well, and they really want people to use this stuff so it will probably go well if you know what you are doing, you sign the paperwork. Revolutionary!
The deadline is March 5th, 2014. Good luck. If you want to send Bloggy into space, the pyramid scheme we signed up with to do that has still never launched anything, so he is available.