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Digital Innovation Engineer


  • Organization: ESA - European Space Agency
  • Location: Frascati
  • Grade: Level not specified - Level not specified
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Engineering
    • Information Technology and Computer Science
    • Innovations for Sustainable Development
  • Closing Date: Closed

Digital Innovation Engineer

Job Requisition ID:  18681
Date Posted:  13 May 2024
Closing Date:  3 June 2024 23:59 CET/CEST
Publication:  Internal & External
Type of Contract Fixed-Term
Directorate:  Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes

Frascati, IT

Grade Band A2 - A4


This is a non-renewable post for a limited duration of four years.


ESRIN, Frascati, Italy 


You will be responsible for transformative and disruptive digital innovation within the Earth Observation domain, with a particular focus on positive impact for mainstream Earth Observation programmes within the Agency.


You will work within ɸ-lab Division, an innovation lab of ESA’s Climate Action, Sustainability and Science Department, and report to the Head of the Φ-lab Explore Office (EOP-S8E) with the aims to be a promoter and implementer for disruptive/transformative innovation in Earth observation (EO). Φ-lab vision is to accelerate the future of EO and be a “hub and catalyst” connecting a growing ecosystem of innovative capabilities across Europe between EO and disruptive/transformative technologies (e.g. from ICT revolution). Φ-lab hosts ESA’s InCubed programme, providing agile support to industrial innovation to exploit new EO markets. Φ-lab convenes experts from across the world to develop research agendas on the relevance for EO of emerging digital technology topics including AI, blockchain, IoT, cloud/edge computing, extended reality (augmented and virtual reality combined), HPC and Quantum computing, see ESA Φ-lab website. Φ-lab also contributes to the European Commission Destination Earth (DestinE) Initiative and ESA’s Digital Twin Earth (DTE) Element of the European Earth Watch Programme by exploring disruptive/transformative innovation within the EO landscape to be transferred as new products and services from industry to industry.


You will be responsible to explore, within space and non-space domains, digital innovations to deliver them with positive impacts to ESA mainstream activities and ESA’s ecosystem (industry, academia and scientific community). To ensure success as DestinE Digital Innovation Engineer, you should be technically competent in creating value through new ideas, solutions, services, processes, and models through the incorporation of digital technologies into the ESA mainstream activities and ESA’s ecosystem. You should have experience in technology development and digital innovation with a strong ability to think outside of the box and being able to deliver a plan for disruptive/transformative digital innovation creation or adoption and its exploitation into the EO ecosystem.


You  will:


  • explore the disruptive/transformative innovation landscape of space and non-space domains;
  • promote the generation, connections and sharing of ideas to engage with the innovation ecosystem and pioneers; 
  • analyse innovation trends and opportunities within the ecosystem;
  • develop plans for nurturing and testing ideas, and promote adoption with the capability to rise ideas TRL fostering their uptake;
  • initiate and prepare technical specifications, statements of work and oversee projects for competitive tendering and execution by industry;
  • oversee innovative EO projects that exploit rapid advances in digital technologies, to encourage adoption of these technologies in Europe’s EO ecosystem and ESA mainstream activities;
  • contribute to development of an European innovative EO ecosystem, encouraging companies new to EO, IT companies, leading universities and high-tech start-ups;
  • assist the agile development of methods fostering discovery, facilitate innovation and accelerate the adoption (e.g. organisation of bootcamps, challenges, workshops, space app camps, etc.);
  • contribute to setting up a suite for EO challenges, helping with the data preparation and curation, analytics  and preparation of large-scale training datasets;
  • support connection with DestinE for digital innovation creation and/or adoption; 
  • coordinate activities performed in collaboration with DestinE and ESA DTE teams, promoting ESA’s activities to students, researchers, industry, policy makers, as well as stimulating cross-fertilisation and new ideas;
  • collaborate with partners in academia, the private sector and the start-up ecosystem to foster innovative EO solutions and shape future EO missions;
  • provide technical and management support to the Φ-lab team. Support the presentation of new ideas and plans to high-level stakeholders;
  • engage with internal and external stakeholders to enhance innovative thinking in and around ESA;
  • coordinate with Invest Office to develop success cases of disruptive/transformative technologies exploited in InCubed activities;
  • network proactively with all EOP organizational units to increase awareness and collaboration with Φ-lab Explore Office addressing problems and opportunities they define, facilitating their initiatives, channelling results into their projects.

Technical competencies

Ability to explore, develop and manage innovation projects and promote them from creation to adoption
Understanding of upstream and downstream innovative EO applications and technologies
Knowledge of EO industry, market, trends and opportunities
Understanding of innovation processes
Broad knowledge of new digital technologies including AI, blockchain, IoT, cloud/edge computing, extended reality (augmented and virtual reality combined), HPC and Quantum computing

Behavioural competencies

Result Orientation
Operational Efficiency
Fostering Cooperation
Relationship Management
Continuous Improvement
Forward Thinking


A master’s degree or equivalent qualification in a relevant discipline and a successful track-record and solid experience in managing innovation programmes, preferably in an international context.  A relevant Ph.D. degree is an asset.

Additional requirements

You should also have :


  • strong communication capabilities
  • ability to start and sustain collaborative initiatives with industrial partners and stakeholders on a non-exchange-of-funds basis
  • track record of interacting with external parties, especially industry and non-space actors
  • excellent in cognitive, analytical, communication and relationship skills

Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness 
ESA is an equal opportunity employer, committed to achieving diversity within the workforce and creating an inclusive working environment. We therefore welcome applications from all qualified candidates irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, beliefs, age, disability or other characteristics. Applications from women are encouraged.


At the Agency we value diversity, and we welcome people with disabilities.  Whenever possible, we seek to accommodate individuals with disabilities by providing the necessary support at the workplace.  The Human Resources Department can also provide assistance during the recruitment process. If you would like to discuss this further, please contact us via email at

Important Information and Disclaimer
Recruitment will normally be at the first grade in the band (A2); however, if the candidate selected has little or no experience, the position may be filled at A1 level.


During the recruitment process, the Agency may request applicants to undergo selection tests. Additionally, successful candidates will need to undergo basic screening before appointment, which will be conducted by an external background screening service, in compliance with the European Space Agency's security procedures.


Note that ESA is in the process of transitioning to a Matrix setup, which could lead to organisational changes affecting this position.


The information published on ESA’s careers website regarding working conditions is correct at the time of publication. It is not intended to be exhaustive and may not address all questions you would have. 


Nationality and Languages 
Please note that applications can only be considered from nationals of one of the following States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia. 


According to the ESA Convention, the recruitment of staff must take into account an adequate distribution of posts among nationals of the ESA Member States*. When short-listing for an interview, priority will first be given to internal candidates and secondly to external candidates from under-represented Member States*. 

The working languages of the Agency are English and French. A good knowledge of one of these is required. Knowledge of another Member State language would be an asset.  
*Member States, Associate Members or Cooperating States.

This vacancy is now closed.
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