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ESA Welcomes 6 Tech Start-ups to Business Incubation Program

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
August 29, 2020
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HARWELL, UK (ESA PR) — ESA is continuing to use space to boost innovation in the UK by welcoming six exciting tech starts-ups to its world-leading business incubation programme.

With the help of the ESA Business Incubation Centre UK (ESA BIC UK), the fledgling companies are working in a wide range of areas to develop game-changing solutions – from augmented reality applications to novel spacecraft propulsion systems.

Routemasters is using space technology to create a planning platform that will support more efficient transport networks in emerging cities, and Sociate AI is developing an artificial intelligence training tool to get the most from Earth observation data for the benefit of British agriculture.

Creative company Immersive Storylab will also make use of ESA’s expertise; the start-up uses augmented reality to develop screen-based story telling experiences to captivate and educate users.

As well as transforming ideas for applying space data into commercial products, ESA BIC UK supports the development of technologies for use in space.

Magdrive has been selected to create novel spacecraft propulsion mechanisms, and Ultima Forma is developing lightweight versatile metal parts for the aerospace industry. Protolaunch is also working to create rocket technology for the launch of small payloads.

Managed by ESA and the Science and Technology Facilities Council, ESA BIC UK is located across four regional hubs – in Harwell in Oxfordshire, Daresbury in the Liverpool City Region, Edinburgh and Leicester.  

From next year, companies being incubated in the East Midlands will be able to make use of ESA BIC UK’s new location at the state-of-the-art Space Park Leicester.

ESA has already helped over 90 start-ups to create space-connected products and services – enabling British businesses to address emerging challenges and keep pace with a fast-moving global marketplace.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway 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.”

Sue O’Hare, Operations Manager at the ESA BIC UK, 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 the Science and Technology Facilities Council 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 the Science and Technology Facilities Council’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.”

Nick Appleyard, Head of ESA Space Solutions, said: “People think that space is about rockets. Of course, that’s true, as some of these ambitious new companies demonstrate. But space is also about what the rockets take up to orbit, and about how that enriches the lives of those of us who don’t get to go into space ourselves. We are only just beginning to explore the ways that space companies can lift us up! I would like to welcome these six new UK businesses into our European Space Solutions family, and say that ESA are proud to play a role in their future success.”

ESA BIC UK is under the ESA Space Solutions umbrella and receives funding from the Science and Technology Facilities Council and the UK Space Agency.

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