Mission accomplished: Harwell reaches ten start-ups
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.
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.
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.”
ESA’s Business Incubation Centres
In 2003, ESA decided to set up business incubation centres as part of its Technology Transfer Programme, with the intention of helping entrepreneurs and young companies to use space technologies and knowhow to develop new products and services in non-space fields.
Six BICs have already been established in the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, the UK and Belgium. Being near major space sites ensures that specialist advice is never far away: in the Netherlands ESTEC, in Italy ESRIN, in Germany ESOC and DLR institutes, in the UK the Harwell Oxford Science Park, and in Belgium the ESA Redu ground station.
A seventh BIC is in planning for the Belgian Flanders region.
Science and Technology Facilities Council
The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is keeping the UK at the forefront of international science and tackling some of the most significant challenges facing society such as meeting our future energy needs, monitoring and understanding climate change, and global security.
The Council has a broad science portfolio and works with the academic and industrial communities to share its expertise in materials science, space and ground-based astronomy technologies, laser science, microelectronics, wafer scale manufacturing, particle and nuclear physics, alternative energy production, radio communications and radar.
STFC Innovations Limited is STFC’s commercialisation company, which is managing ESA BIC Harwell on behalf of ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office.
For more information, please contact:
Wendy Ellison, Press Officer
STFC Daresbury Laboratory
Warrington WA4 4AD
Tel: +44 (0)1925 603 232
ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO)
The main mission of the ESA Technology Transfer Programme is to facilitate the use of space technology and systems for non-space applications to take advantage of Europe’s investments in space research and developments to strengthen the competitiveness of European industry, and at the same time demonstrating the benefit of the European space programmes to Europe’s citizens.
ESA TTPO is responsible for defining the overall approach and strategy for the transfer of space technologies and systems, including the incubation of start-up companies at ESA business incubation centres and related funding.
The office has transferred over 260 technologies since the programme start and is supporting directly and indirectly around 100 new start-ups a year. TTPO has also initiated as a limited partner the Open Sky Technology Fund, a €100 million venture fund which invests in start-ups using space technology.
For more information, please contact:
ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office
European Space Agency
2200 AG, Noordwijk
Tel: +31 71 565 6208