27th June 2019 – In the last six months the Harwell Space Cluster has added 14 new companies to its impressive roster, now comprised of 92 organisations including STFC RAL Space, the UK and European Space Agencies and The Satellite Applications Catapult. Collectively employing over 1,040 people, Europe’s most concentrated Space cluster is comprised of commercial, public and academic organisations focused on driving innovation in the UK Space market.
The former ‘Atomic Village’ is now home to Europe’s most concentrated Cluster of Space organisations, and fast growth space technology start-ups. The strength of the Harwell Space Cluster lies in its ability to unite the public sector, particularly the work of STFC’s facilities and staff, with fast growth SMEs/multinationals to collaborate, co-fund, and problem solve, in order to develop innovative technologies that ultimately create new markets, resulting in job creation and economic growth. The 92 organisations within the Harwell Space Cluster are delivering on the UK vision to achieve 10% of the global Space market share by 2030.
Dr Joanna Hart Development Manager for Harwell Space Cluster says: “This growth demonstrates that successive UK governments have been wise to invest heavily in supporting the growth and competitiveness of the high-tech Space sector at Harwell.”
One of the start-ups on campus is Archangel Imaging (AI), which builds distributed intelligence systems and advanced unmanned camera systems that can help with operations that are ‘off the grid’, or away from bandwidth. Some of these projects include protecting oceans and dealing with disasters.
Jonathan Mist, CEO and founder of Archangel Imaging (AI), says, “AI was formed at Harwell in 2016 to focus on solving problems the cloud can’t reach. Many of our biggest challenges as a species, like protecting our oceans or dealing with disasters, require operations without high bandwidth or reliable communications.”
“By using robotics, drone and space technology, we plan to provide workable solutions to these urgent issues. One example is our Wildlife Activity Monitoring Camera which can help detect animal presence and poachers approaching protected sites. Last month, this product won an Alconics Award in the ‘AI for Good’ category.”
Harwell Space Cluster’s attractiveness for companies is in its investment and incubation ecosystem that supports businesses at every stage, whether it is a start-up or spin out looking to commercialise their first product, or a multinational looking to diversify. Not only this, but the opportunity to collaborate with teams and businesses across the Space, HealthTec and EnergyTec Clusters, all co-located at Harwell, has already resulted in some surprising – and lucrative – new projects.
“Collaboration across our three Clusters has led to innovations such as repurposing space technology used to scan stars in distant galaxies, to create a 3D medical X-ray machine that can be used to detect cancer,” says Dr Barbara Ghinelli, Director of Harwell Campus Cluster Development. “The project is now jointly funded by the UK Space Agency, European Space Agency and the NHS. Health and space-heritage technology may seem like unlikely bedfellows, but it is a partnership that has led directly to life-saving technology.”
One organisation in the Space Cluster that has benefitted from campus collaboration is AVS UK, a technology development company that develops bespoke engineering solutions for hazardous science and technology markets including aeronautics and space.
Alberto Garbayo, Director of AVS UK, says: “Harwell Campus Space Cluster has been a fantastic home for the last ten years for two reasons; firstly, AVS UK collaborates with a number of businesses also located here, including STFC’s ISIS neutron source and RAL Space facilities. Secondly, the ability to build technology for organisations working across the Clusters has been of huge benefit for us commercially. As we move further into the development of our innovative catalogue of Space products in propulsion, thermal and in-orbit services, we are launching URA Thrusters, a new venture developing novel disruptive in-space water propulsion systems for a broad range of spacecraft, which will also benefit from the Campus’ interdisciplinary skills and capabilities.”
Formerly known as the ‘Atomic Village’, Harwell Campus is now home to over £2billion of open access scientific facilities and 5,500 skilled people in total. With a rich history of innovation - it was the site where nuclear energy was generated for the first time in Europe - the 710-acre site now fosters collaboration through clusters focused on Space, Healthcare and Energy, comprising 250 commercially minded organisations.
Harwell Campus is rapidly expanding via a private public partnership between Harwell Oxford Partners and U+I, plus two Government backed agencies, the UKRI Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA).
Notes to Editors
With a heritage of 75 years at the forefront of UK innovation and discovery, Harwell Campus continues to drive scientific advancements to the benefit of the UK economy and to improve the human condition, centred around an open innovation community and culture. The contribution that Harwell makes to the UK is significant - leading in research and achieving commercial success in key global markets, including Life Sciences, Space, Energy, Supercomputing, AI and Big Data. With 5,500 people employed across 250 public, private, and academic organisations and an estimated GVA of over £1billion, Harwell provides job creation and economic growth that benefits the whole country.
The Government’s confidence that Harwell is central to the success of the UK economy is evident from a £267 million of investment in 2017 which saw the new Faraday Institution (£78 million) and Rosalind Franklin Institute (£100 million) located at the Campus and will see the National Satellite Testing Facility (£99 million) completed in 2020.
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Last updated: 27 June 2019