Science and Technology Facilities Council
STFC welcomes six new start-ups to its national space-tech business programme
The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has announced six pioneering UK start-ups that have successfully secured a place on the world’s largest business incubation programme for space tech start-ups.
The European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre United Kingdom (ESA BIC UK) is part of ESA Space Solutions, with successful ESA BICs across Europe, supporting start-ups that are using space technologies to innovate and develop game-changing new products and services.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway yesterday said:
“The UK is home to some of the world’s most innovative space technology businesses, using satellites and artificial intelligence to transform our everyday lives – from developing more efficient transport networks to helping UK farmers increase their productivity.
“By joining the world’s largest space incubation programme, these six impressive UK start-ups will receive the support they need for their ideas to take off and succeed.”
The ESA BIC UK is a UK-wide programme, incorporating the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, Sci-Tech Daresbury in the North West, the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh and the new Space Park Leicester, which will open next year.
Managed by STFC in collaboration with ESA, and partly funded by STFC and the UK Space Agency, the ESA BIC UK programme helps businesses boost their competitiveness in an increasingly fierce and global marketplace. So far it has helped 91start-up companies, of which 73 have graduated from the programme, collectively raising over £73 million in investment to date1.
The six new companies to join the programme span a diverse range of sectors from using AR technologies to develop screen-based story-telling experiences, to developing new spacecraft propulsion systems, manufacturing light-weight metal components for the aerospace industry, and developing an AI training platform to get the most from Earth Observation data.
STFC’s Dr Sue O’Hare, Operations Manager at the ESA BIC UK, yesterday said:
“I’m really excited to welcome these six dynamic and forward thinking start-ups to the ESA BIC UK, and I’m thrilled that, despite current economic uncertainty, we have continued to receive a healthy volume of applications to join our programme. Understanding the support that start-ups need is our speciality, and here our aspiring incubatees can take full advantage of the expertise, facilities and support we have across STFC to build technologies and businesses of tomorrow.
“The UK is the leading funder in Europe for space business applications, and the valuable combination of funding, networks and access to STFC’s technical capabilities, not to mention being part of the world’s largest space incubation programme, is exactly what start-ups need to thrive and be successful.”
The six new successful companies to join the programme are:
- Sociate AI – developing an AI data labelling tool that makes it easy, enjoyable and emotionally engaging for experts to annotate Earth Observation data- to better capture their expertise and knowledge. This results in improved AI performance and actionable insights for Agriculture. (Harwell)
- Ultima Forma – manufacturing lightweight multi-functional metal parts with tailored properties for space and other demanding applications. (Harwell)
- Magdrive – developing novel electric spacecraft propulsion, designed to combine the high efficiency of electric systems with the high thrust-to-weight of chemical systems. (Harwell)
- Protolaunch Ltd – developing a rocket engine specifically dedicated to enable the launch for small payloads. (Harwell)
- Immersive Storylab – Using immersive technology to create moving ‘storyworlds’ with augmented reality 3D characters. (Daresbury)
- Route masters – using satellite technology to develop transport planning platforms and solutions addressing problems in the informal transport networks in emerging cities. (Harwell)
Part of the ESA Space Solutions network of successful ESA BICs across Europe, the ESA BIC UK provides up to 15 start-ups every year with a combination of funding and access to world leading technical expertise, facilities and business development support.
Further information about the ESA BIC UK and how to apply is available online.
1 Data provided by Beauhurst
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