Utilising space technology can offer ambitious entrepreneurs the opportunity to gain a competitive advantage within their sector. The ESA Business Incubation Centre United Kingdom (ESA BIC UK) provides the support and funding that start-up companies need to turn their ideas into profitable products and services using space technology, or to develop technologies for use in space.
As part of our business incubation offering, STFC manages the ESA BIC UK across its sites on behalf of ESA, offering successful applicants fully equipped office space, as well as access to all the benefits of being part of our flourishing and unique network of science and innovation campuses. Businesses work alongside, and in collaboration with, other businesses, STFC scientists and engineers, accessing a whole wealth of expertise.
Other benefits include:
A cash incentive for design, prototyping, IP protection and market studies of over £40,000;
Access to STFC’s test facilities, laboratories/workshops and technical expertise, including up to 40 hours of expert support and 40 hours per year of access to lab facilities;
Hands-on business development support/advice;
Access to a range of funding, investment, networking and collaboration opportunities.
Space Park Leicester (managed by the University of Leicester) recently joined the UK-wide programme, adding a fourth location alongside the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, Sci-Tech Daresbury in the North West and the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh. Each location is firmly associated with world leading specialisms that companies joining the programme can benefit from. The addition of Space Park Leicester marks the first ESA BIC UK location beyond STFC’s national sites.
The ESA BIC UK is extremely proud of the success stories that have come out of the programme since it began in 2011 and has followed the progress of more than 70 companies as they graduate.
If you wish to speak to someone at STFC about the ESA BIC please contact: Enquiries email
T: +44 (0)1235 446075
The business mentoring support from the ESA BIC UK, and having access to the Harwell network and its space ecosystem, was invaluable - it really is very good for start-ups. And a lot of opportunities come from the activities of the ESA BIC UK’s Operations Manager, even after you’ve left the programme as an alumnus.
Adam Durant, Founder, SATAVIA
Since beginning the ESA BIC UK programme, we have felt like we are part of an amazing community that consists of other start-ups doing fantastic things with space technology with whom we have collaborated with as well as, a great team of experts who have facilitated the growth of our business and networks.
Riham Satti – Co-founder of Mevitae
Agrilenz is a decision support service for livestock farmers and environmental policy managers, helping make better decisions by combining Earth Observation data, farm measurements and environmental data. The company is developing user-centric decision support capability for managing and benchmarking performance for pasture and feed management; environment and natural capital monitoring; farm operations management; and strategic planning for farm and farmer. Agrilenz is using advancements in Analytics, Earth Observation, Cloud Computing and Artificial Intelligence to offer a comprehensive yet simple-to-use service.
Crover is on a mission to help grain-storekeepers reduce losses and maintain optimum storage conditions by commercialising the first robotic device (a Crover) able to move through grains stored in bulk (e.g. in sheds/silos). A Crover navigates through grains while scanning them for conditions (e.g. local temperature and moisture); sends the data to the cloud using low-altitude satellite data transfer; and delivers simplified condition reports to grain-storekeepers, alerting them as soon as values are above the norm.
Immersive Storylab is using immersive technology to create moving ‘storyworlds’ with augmented reality 3D characters.
LIFT ME OFF
LIFT ME OFF is enabling a safe and sustainable use of space through the development of underlying technologies (in propulsion, robotics and in-orbit situational awareness) necessary to enable future autonomous vehicles for in-orbit transportation, manufacturing, repair and recovery. Technologies include propulsion technology (moving and de-orbiting small satellites; proximity operations and docking; refuelling systems) and autonomous vision systems (using artificial intelligence; tracking satellite behaviour; surveying space, asteroids and planets).
Lumi Space uses laser stations on the ground to send power to satellite solar panels in LEO. Power is a key limitation in 'new space' – as satellites have shrunk, an increasing proportion of their mass and financial budget is spent on power infrastructure. Addressing this issue is key to further growth in the small-satellite industry. The company has received pre-seed funding from Entrepreneur First, as well as support from the ESA BIC UK and the Institute of Physics, and is engaged in collaborative research and development with universities and satellite companies.
Magdrive is developing novel electric spacecraft propulsion, designed to combine the high efficiency of electric systems with the high thrust-to-weight of chemical systems.
NANTRACK is developing the next generation vehicle-tracking device. Current market tracking devices are vulnerable to mobile network coverage issues preventing communication to and from the tracker. NANTRACK has innovative solutions using satellite communications, enabling vehicles to be located and disabled remotely without relying on the mobile network.
Tiny satellites operating in large flocks. OrbAstro fills the technology between operations of a single satellite and operations of a flock. This manifests itself as a small plug-in module for satellites that wholly enables formation flight capabilities, inter-satellite communications and autonomous flock operations. Flocking is highly relevant to most existing markets, many emerging markets, and is a key enabler in several markets that want to exist.
Orbital Cargo Drone
Orbital Cargo Drone designs, builds and operates small orbital launchers for the satellite market below 160 kg to 500 km SSO Our system will help customers launch their small satellites on all orbital inclinations, with a short waiting time and at an affordable price. The vehicle’s unique architecture combines the use of green storable propellants, reusability and the mobile launch system to increase cadence and launch flexibility, and reduce costs and risks.
Oxford Earth Observation (OxEO)
OxEO delivers environmental insight through earth observation. A decision support tool for investors, companies and authorities, the platform integrates an observation layer, a modelling layer and an asset layer. We use satellite imagery to identify and locate areas of interest. Our models help predict how these areas may change in the future. This has implications for the value of local assets. OxEO enhances the quality of the decisions that our clients make about these assets.
Protolaunch developing a rocket engine specifically dedicated to enable the launch for small payloads. (
Responsive Access simplifies access to space for CubeSats through the integration of launch services, enabled by proprietary software. We will offer a complete 'one-stop shop' for the space launch sector, from campaign planning to post-launch activities. The system will deliver optimised launch matching (based on simulations), automated manifest planning, batch testing of CubeSats, and insurance (through API).
Route Masters is using satellite technology to develop transport planning platforms and solutions addressing problems in the informal transport networks in emerging cities.
Smart Green Shipping Alliance
Smart Green Shipping designs 21st century renewable energy propulsion solutions for global shipping. Planning to launch 100% renewable fuel-autonomous ships by 2030, the company works collaboratively with cargo owners, ship owners, naval architects, marine engineers, data scientists, legal and commercial professionals to create fit-for-the-future whole system solutions. Detailed, verifiable and trustworthy analysis of the availability of wind, and other primary renewable energies, is the key enabler that will unlock renewables to help power the global fleet into the future.
Sociate AI is 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.
StressMap Ltd offers industry an “intelligent capability” for measuring residual stresses in complex geometry structures of any size at competitive cost. The company is developing a new adaptive robotic system capable of automatically mapping surface stresses across manufactured components of complex shape for space sector applications. With support from ESA BIC UK, StressMap is working with Airbus Defence & Space (UK) and MRX France to demonstrate what the X-Raybot can do, for the design, advanced manufacture & inspection of satellite propulsion systems.
Ultima Forma is manufacturing lightweight multi-functional metal parts with tailored properties for space and other demanding applications.
Last updated: 11 March 2021
Science and Technology Facilities Council
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