ESA BIC UK celebrates 60 start-up milestone
Ridersmate graduated Wednesday as the 60th start-up from ESA Business Incubation Centre (BIC) UK, with their innovative lifesaving system for sailors.
Managed and co-funded by STFC, since 2011 the ESA BIC UK has supported 67 start-ups who are using space and satellite technology to develop new products and services, with an impressive survival rate of 94%, and collectively raising over £40 million1 in investment to date, including about 18% of the total equity investments in the UK space sector in 20172.
The total employment the ESA BIC UK companies have generated is estimated in the range 265–6581.
Initially opened at the Harwell Campus but following the success in spinnning off new start-ups from space technology and satellite data, in 2018 the centre was extended with two additional business incubation sites in Edinburgh and Daresbury.
“Turning a brilliant idea into a viable commercial offering is a huge challenge and the ESA BIC UK provides the right environment and support to do this,” said Sue O’Hare, Operations Manager for ESA BIC UK.
Space technology will come to the rescue at sea
Having been hosted at the UK centre at the Harwell Campus for 18 months, the Ridersmate company has developed a wearable tracker for use at sea, called eCall Marine, to help emergency responders save lives, resources and money.
Activated either by pressing the emergency button or automatically when it comes into contact with water, the eCall Marine tracker will directly notify the emergency services of an incident at sea and provide an immediate and reliable two-way voice conversation with the caller from anywhere in the world. Using satellite communications eliminates the risk of conventional mobile networks often not working more than just a couple of kilometres offshore.
The device also provides constant updates on the exact coordinates of the incident, along with the temperature, direction and speed of the current which enables them to pinpoint exactly not only where the victim was, but where he or she will be at point of rescue, eliminating the need for endless hours of search.
“Thank you, ESA BIC UK, for supporting our idea and helping us bring it out of the garden shed!” said David Coleman Director and Founder of Ridersmate at the celebration event.
“When we first pitched the idea of eCall Marine, many told us it couldn’t be done. However, thanks to the opportunity we have had at ESA BIC UK, we have proved our concept, carried out successful trials and are gearing up to launch.
“The financial support has been a huge element, but also the support we have had has been so much more than that. Office space, a start-up environment and funding advice combined with business and patent support have been invaluable.”
ESA BIC is the world’s largest ecosystem for space related entrepreneurship
ESA BIC UK is part of the successful ESA space solutions network with 20 ESA Business Incubation Centres – ESA BICs – providing support to start-ups at over 60 cities in 17 European countries. It is the world’s largest ecosystem for space related entrepreneurship and supports 150 start-up companies per year. More than 650 new start-ups have so far been fostered through the network, developing innovative solutions, systems and services based on space technology and satellite services.
Sue O’Hare continued, “Ridersmate is a perfect example of how space and satellite technology can be applied to develop a product and service that will not only save lives but will also save costs and the resources of our UK emergency services.
“I’m thrilled to be celebrating our 60 alumni milestone with Ridersmate and am looking forward to hearing about their future successes.”
Opportunuity for entreprenurs with new business ideas
ESA BIC UK provides up to 10 start-ups every year with a combination of £41.5k funding and access to STFC’s world leading technical expertise and business development support. This is in addition to the benefits that being part of the ESA space solutions international network and the flourishing and unique UK network of science and innovation campuses can bring.
If you are interested in knowing more about the opportunities for starting a new company under this scheme, you can find more about ESA BIC UK here and more about the ESA Business Incubation Centres network here.
Visit also ESA space solutions to learn more about the Europe-wide network to support space spin-off.