The European Space Agency (ESA) has picked Leicester to launch a branch of its Business Incubation Centre for space tech start-ups.
The agency is extending what has been called the biggest programme of its kind in the world to Space Park Leicester, the £100 million research and business facility being built in the shadow of the National Space Centre.
Space Park Leicester joins a UK-wide ESA BIC programme, alongside the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, Sci-Tech Daresbury in the North West and the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh – each one with strong links to the world leading specialisms that companies joining the programme can benefit from.
The University of Leicester, lead partner in the Leicester space park, has a global reputation for satellite research.
The first part of the space park to open will mainly be used for research into “Earth observation” – for instance, how satellite data can be used for anything from studying air pollution to looking at illegal logging in the Amazon or helping the transport and logistics sector.
Global players such as Lockheed Martin, Thales Alenia Space, Hewlett Packard, Airbus and Amazon have already signed up to phase two of the space park, to be called the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology and Earth Observation Research Centre – or METEOR. It will work on the practical applications of satellite technology and the data they capture.
At its other sites, the ESA incubation programme – a collaboration with the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the UK Space Agency – has already helped 87 start-up companies turn their ideas into viable products and services.
Of those, 73 have graduated from the centre and raised more than £72 million in investment.
Companies joining the programme will have access to the university’s research and development capabilities in areas including earth observation, environmental monitoring, high performance computing, data science, AI and space engineering.
Other benefits include:
– A cash incentive for design, prototyping, IP protection and market studies of more than £40,000
– Access to STFC’s test facilities, laboratories, workshops and technical expertise, including up to 40 hours of expert support and access to 40 hours access per year to lab facilities
– Hands-on business development support and advice
– Access to a range of funding, investment, networking and collaboration opportunities.
ESA BIC UK operations manager Dr Sue O’Hare said: “UK start-ups are increasingly using space technologies to create game-changing products, as well as technologies for use on spacecraft and satellites.
“However, taking a product from an initial idea to manufacture and market is a massive challenge.
“The UK is the leading funder in Europe for space business applications, and the addition of Space Park Leicester to our business incubation programme provides an exciting opportunity to widen our support for start-ups across the vibrant and growing East Midlands space cluster and beyond.”
Grant Bourhill, chief executive of Leicester Science Parks and interim director of research and enterprise at the University of Leicester, said: “Leicester has consistently been recognised as one of the best cities in the UK for start-ups and the ESA BIC at Space Park will offer access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, partnership working with our academic and student talent, as well as co-location with other companies.
“The space sector already underpins burgeoning commercial markets in communications, location based services and earth observation, and the ESA BIC will support new entrants to these and other space-enabled markets.
“This is an exciting step forward for the East Midlands.”
The university said the space sector contributes £300 billion and growing to the UK economy, and employs more than 40,000 people here.
William Wells, head of research and enterprise partnerships and acting commercial director at the University of Leicester, said: “Successful ESA BIC applicants will join a community of innovative space and space enabled companies at Space Park Leicester.
“They will benefit from a rich community of researchers and students whose ideas and talents will fuse with their growth ambitions.
“Businesses will have the opportunity to access financial support, technical expertise and facilities to address the acceleration of product and service development.”
Further information about the ESA BIC UK and how to apply is available online by clicking here.
This Article firstly Publish on www.business-live.co.uk