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UK Space Agency backs SETsquared and the University of Exeter

Small businesses will be able to exploit the technology developed for space exploration thanks to a new project led by the University of Exeter funded by the UK Space Agency.  Goonhilly Earth Station. Image courtesy of Jim Champion

The race to learn more about space has meant the creation of satellites, huge amounts of data about the earth, and new methods of creating maps.

A total of £50k of funding for the SpaceTech Incubation Initiative will support start-ups and innovative small and newly-formed companies in the South West to use space technology in their work.

The new scheme will be run by the South West Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications, an initiative to promote economic growth led by the University of Exeter co-funded by the Satellite Catapult and UK Space Agency in partnership with Met Office, Plymouth University, Falmouth University, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Rothamsted Research, Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd, and Peninsula Innovation Ltd.

The project is one of three across the UK to be given funding by the UK Space Agency. It will support the Government’s Industrial Strategy, which emphasises the importance of science, innovation and skills.

Up to 20 companies and entrepreneurs will have access to advice and support, facilities and resources.

Cathrine Armour, Director of the South West Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications, said: “The race to learn more about space has meant we are now able to access huge amounts of observational data about the earth, providing the ability to derive highly detailed data products both terrestrial and marine from a satellites ‘restrained dataset’. Alongside the satellite communications network, data analytics and, more recently, the affordability of commissioning purpose specific satellite data payloads demand for satellite applications are burgeoning. This sort of science and technology provides an abundance of opportunity for companies in the South West who want to be a part of this growing global market.”

“This funding will allow us to deliver the globally recognised SETsquared Entrepreneurship Programme in the South West and provide an additional three months SpaceTech Business Support to those involved, including taking them to the annual UK Space Conference in Manchester this year where they can meet global leaders in the space industry.”

“The SpaceTech Incubation Initiative is unique in that it will provide 12 months, vital ‘grow-on’ space at Goonhilly Earth Station, Helston, Cornwall to the 4 start-ups identified as ‘high-potential’. Provided by GES Ltd, the facility is ‘fit-for-purpose’ meeting the needs of data and communications centric business through the provision of synchronous, uncontended connectivity and server rack capacity of up to 42u – above and beyond standard business facilities.”

The space sector is a UK success story, with growth averaging over 8 per cent a year over the last decade, a turnover in excess of £11 billion a year and ambitious plans to achieve 10 per cent of the global space market by 2030. Much of this growth is anticipated to come from companies using space-derived data or services in a broad range of different sectors.

Helen Roberts, Regional Growth Manager at the UK Space Agency, said: “We are delighted to extend the network of incubators supporting space sector start-ups to cover even more of the UK.

“These new business incubators add to the existing network of SETsquared, Leicester Dock, UNIP in Nottingham, Loughborough University, Business Durham, Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) at its Daresbury Laboratory site, Glyndwr Innovations in St Asaph, North Wales and the European Space Agency’s business incubator at Harwell.

“We look forward to working with them and seeing them help exciting new businesses to develop and flourish.”

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