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Meet 'new space' start-up – Responsive Access – the latest incubator company at the Higgs Centre for Innovation

17 February 2020

New Space company, Responsive Access, gets lunch ready at its Edinburgh HQ! We join spacepreneurs Andrew Paliwoda, CEO and Daniel Smith, Marketing Director for a space food menu, and to hear how this cutting-edge business will simplify access to space for small satellite missions

Welcome to the Higgs Centre for Innovation. We’re delighted to have you here.

“Thank you. We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to base ourselves here at the Higgs – the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) business incubation hub – in Scotland.

“It’s through winning business incubation on the European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre United Kingdom (ESA BIC UK) programme – which has a hub in the Higgs – that has allowed us to be here.

“We are really excited, because the ESA BIC is one of the best incubators for space companies. As well as the funding through the ESA BIC UK programme, we also have access to technical and business support through both the ESA and STFC networks. Not only that, the STFC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre and the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Astronomy are on the same site too, so there are lots of opportunities for the cross-pollination of ideas with the astronomers and engineers based here, as well as critical access to satellite testing facilities for our customers.

“With the space industry in Scotland growing rapidly across the whole value chain, we can’t think of a more progressive and dynamic place to be.”

Your ‘mission’ so to speak is to simplify access to space. How will Responsive Access do that?

“There are many barriers to launching small satellites into space. Often it’s based on relationships and who you know… and we want to democratise that access so that anyone will have the tools and channels to successfully launch a small satellite into space.

“What we are therefore developing is an online platform, which we intend will be a ‘one-stop-shop’ – giving satellite operators everything they need in one place. Integrated within the software will be a full service end-to-end package of launch services – from mission management to operations, allowing the customers to spend more time on their technical development.

“Currently we are doing our due diligence on the offering – speaking with a range of potential customers, partners and suppliers – to do the requirements engineering for the service; drawing up working governance frameworks – such as Memorandums of Understanding, and generally establishing good working relationships early on.

That’s sounds like a really exciting proposition, and great progress is being made. You’re in the early start-up stages. What are you particularly proud of, so far?

“There are many economic benefits that small satellite space missions support – from the mobile phone industry to monitoring the environment. Our proposition is really rooted in providing access to space for small satellites because of the socio-economic benefits these missions can provide.

“We are also acutely aware of sustainability in space too, so we also want to ensure that those who launch small satellite missions into space, do so responsibly. For example, that to mitigate space debris, they de-orbit within 25 years.

“Through the ESA BIC UK programme we have access to sustainability expertise – which is great.

“So, we are proud of our proposition and our values, and we’re also extremely proud to have been recognised recently by Heathrow Airport in its ‘Exporting is GREAT’ campaign. This is a campaign run in partnership with the Department for International Trade (DIT) which provides seed funding to start-ups to support international trade missions.

“We will be using the money we received to go to Silicon Valley next month, where we are a sponsor of the Small Sat Symposium 2020 – the world’s largest small satellite business conference. We can’t wait to create and build relationships with future clients and partners.”

How did you become spacepreneurs – creating Responsive Access?

Andrew: “I’m from a satellite background. I worked for Alba Orbital, a company that designs and builds PocketQube satellites - the world’s most advanced ultra-miniaturized spacecraft. I was Head of Launch there.

Daniel: “I’m from the launch side, having been a member of the management team of Skyrora, Britain’s leading launch vehicle developer. They’re doing something that hasn’t been done since the days of Black Arrow in the 60s and early 70s but this time from UK soil, so it was incredible to help move the company from an initial concept to the exciting reality of launches and 3D printed engine tests.”

“We met at various space events in Scotland and soon realised we had the complementary skills and experience to take forward the end-to-end proposition in the Responsive Access idea.”

A meeting of minds, as they say! What can customers hope to expect next from Responsive Access?

“Within the next 18 months our ambition is to have released the fully functioning Responsive Access online platform – with all of the software and partner solutions integrated – to make launching small satellites easier and more cost-effective than ever before.

“We would also like to be supporting early customers – and have ‘stuff’ doing their job in space… One of the advantages of being based in the Higgs is that it offers state-of-the-art facilities that are primarily designed for the small satellite community. Companies can test their small satellites (from micro- and nano- to pico-sats) – for space readiness – in appropriate clean-room environments, with the right equipment, in one place, that are ready to be used.”

It’s been great talking with you both. It’s very exciting. We can’t wait to see you achieving your goals.

You can follow Responsive Access on Twitter @ResponsiveAcs
#SimplifyingAccessToSpace #NewSpaceNewSolution #ResponsibleUsersofSpace

Further information

Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC):

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is part of UK Research and Innovation – the UK body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. STFC funds and supports research in particle and nuclear physics, astronomy, gravitational research and astrophysics, and space science and also operates a network of five national laboratories as well as supporting UK research at a number of international research facilities including CERN, FERMILAB, the ESO telescopes in Chile and many more. Visit stfc.ukri.org for more information. @STFC_Matters


This ground-breaking new facility, created by the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and in partnership with the University of Edinburgh, applies business incubation best practice to big data, astronomy, particle physics and space technology, enabling start-ups to translate fundamental research into wider commercial impact. Incubated companies also have access to the Specialist Lab facilities and Data Visualisation Suite. The Business Incubation Centre includes a comprehensive support package for successful applicant companies to develop new products and services in areas related to space, big data and high precision engineering. #HiggsInnovation

THE UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC):

Based at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh and operated by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) is the national centre for astronomical technology. The UK ATC designs and builds instruments for many of the world’s major telescopes on land and in space. It also project manages UK and international collaborations and its scientists carry out observational and theoretical research into questions such as the origins of planets and galaxies. @ukatc

THE European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre United Kingdom (ESA BIC UK)

Managed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the ESA BIC UK enables UK start-ups to use space and satellite technologies to develop new products and services or to develop technologies for use in space. Located at three sites across the UK – Harwell Campus, Sci-Tech Daresbury, and Royal Observatory Edinburgh – the programme offers technical and business support plus incentive funding to help accelerate business growth. @ESABICUK

Last updated: 24 February 2020


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