Mission accomplished: Harwell reaches ten start-ups

ESA BIC Harwell
7 May 2012

With its latest three start-up companies, ESA Business Incubation Centre Harwell in the UK has hit its target of signing up ten tenants within a year of launch. The start-ups will translate cutting-edge space technologies into non-space European businesses.

Bennamann Ltd is using space technology to create a methane storage system. Methane generated by the anaerobic digestion of grass cuttings during the summer months can be stored to provide heating and electricity for agriculture and homes during the winter.

UK inland waterway

E-canal Ltd is developing a smart phone app for boat users on the UK’s inland waterways. The app uses ESA satnav technology to provide realtime information on the location of nearby places of interest, amenities, queues at locks and hazards like sunken boats.

Travel AI Ltd is also using ESA satnav technology in developing a system that automatically collects data about people’s travel habits from their smart phones which it then aggregates for use by operators and planners of transport networks.

During their periods of tenancy, which can last up to 24 months, each company will benefit from an extensive package of services and support provided by ESA BIC Harwell, including a £41 500 product development grant, office space, free access to ESA and UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) expertise, and support for developing business plans and financial management skills.

ESA BIC Harwell is one of six ESA business incubation centres across Europe providing open high-tech innovation environments where technologies and applications, developed through space research, can be translated by innovative start-ups into viable businesses for a wider non-space market.

“The ESA BIC Harwell is a major initiative by STFC and ESA that aims to bring technical and business support together to the benefit of dynamic start-up companies with a mission to innovate,” said Paul Vernon, Head of New Business Opportunities at STFC.

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Bruno Naulais, European Space Incubators Network Manager at ESA, added, ”It is great news that ESA BIC Harwell is already reaching its first-year target.

“The space sector is generating huge social and economic benefits. Business incubation is a step further in reaping the benefits from space by creating new companies outside the space sector that provide new products for terrestrial non-space application.”

Further information here.

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