Funding awarded to support space entrepreneurs

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THREE ‘business incubation centres’ across the UK – including one in Portsmouth – have been awarded £150,000 from the UK Space Agency.

The agency is working to deliver world-class science innovation support, in line with the government’s Industrial Strategy, which emphasises the importance of science, innovation and skills.

The centres – in the Solent, Scotland and the south west of England – will support start-up companies by providing advice and support, giving access to facilities and resources and collaborating on events and initiatives with other business incubators.

Just under £50,000 has gone to a joint scheme between the National Oceanography Centre’s Marine Robotics Innovation Centre, in Southampton, and the University of Portsmouth’s Innovation Space.

The money will be used to provide an innovation hub in Southampton with world-leading expertise in developing next generation Marine Autonomous Systems and an incubation centre in Portsmouth.

Sarah Duckering, director of research and innovation services at the University of Portsmouth, said: ‘We are delighted to support businesses in the region who are exploiting the opportunities that the advancement of satellite applications offer.

‘The funding will provide incubation space and training programme for start-up companies, here and at the National Oceanography Centre, and participants will be able to access facilities and staff at both organisations to help them establish and grow commercial opportunities.

‘Portsmouth is ideally located to support the growth of the space sector in general.

‘The university already hosts the South Coast Regional Centre for Excellence for Satellite Applications and this announcement reflects other university investments supporting the space sector, for example our Future Technology Centre and ASTA Technology, the only ESA accredited training centre in the UK.’

The South West Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications Partnership, led by the University of Exeter, also received £50,000.

A further £50,000 went to the Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications, based at the University of Strathclyde, to work with Tontine in Glasgow, a high-tech acceleration and growth space for new businesses.

The space sector is a UK success story, with growth averaging over eight per cent a year over the past decade, a turnover in excess of £11bn a year and ambitious 
plans to achieve 10 per cent of the global space market by 2030.

Helen Roberts, regional growth manager at the UK Space Agency, said: ‘We are delighted to extend the network of incubators supporting space sector start-ups to cover even more of the UK.

‘We look forward to working with them and seeing them help exciting new businesses to develop and flourish.’