Ground-breaking ideas with the “potential to change the world” are being sought to help boost the UK Space sector in a programme launched across Northamptonshire by the Scott Bader Innovation Centre.
Open to established businesses and new company founders, the OI Space Incubator, organised by Oxford Innovation, the company managing the centre in High Street, Wollaston, was launched on Thursday, March 1 at Venturefest South.
Supported by the UK Space Agency, the nationwide programme has been created to identify and support the next generation of innovation using satellite applications.
Entrants are being asked to submit ideas which have the ability to solve real-world problems in sectors such as transport, urban futures, maritime dock operations, agriculture and the health care sectors.
Key partner, Ordance Survey (OS), is challenging entrepreneurs and innovators to identify new opportunities built on high-accuracy positioning from mobile devices, otherwise known as Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals. The 10 successful candidates will be given access to OS specialist resources.
Together with the next best 15 entries, they will also benefit from intensive commercialisation workshops, research project support and internship resourcing.
This impressive package, worth thousands of pounds, will be delivered by specialist business advisers who are part of the Oxford Innovation network, together with the UK Space Agency, OS, the University of Southampton and various other partners.
The University of Southampton is also providing 10 fully-funded interns to support winning businesses for the initial 10-week incubation and prototyping stage of the six-month programme.
Ann Cooper, Head of Placements and Work Experience at the university, said: “The opportunity to partner with Oxford Innovation on this UK Space Agency sponsored incubator presents a fantastic opportunity for all parties involved.
“We are extremely excited to help place our students with the start-up organisations and cannot wait to see the outcomes of this incredible venture which will no doubt be a fantastic opportunity for both the students and the organisations.”
Six months of free workspace at Oxford Innovation’s Fareham Innovation Centre or Base Bordon Innovation Centre at Broxhead House, East Hampshire is also up for grabs for those who have the best 10 ideas.
Richard May, Innovation Director at Oxford Innovation, said: “This unique programme will provide successful applicants with world-class research and innovation support.
“We are very thankful for the support from the UK Space Agency and the growing number of expert partners that are lining up to offer free guidance and test facilities. The University of Southampton and Ordnance Survey have set the scene of big organisations collaborating with SMEs and start-ups.
“Our hope is that the OI Space Incubator will help businesses futureproof and grow their market position by adding downstream space technology to their current offerings. It will also give the next generation of space-related start-ups the real life support to launch and succeed.”
UK Space Agency Chief Executive, Dr Graham Turnock, said: “This programme is a great way of uncovering talent and innovation in the space sector, and will build on the opportunities provided to exciting start-ups through our business incubator network, which operates across 22 locations in the UK.
“The Industrial Strategy underlined the government’s commitment to ensure the UK thrives in the commercial space age. The support on offer through this programme will help turn space business ideas into reality.”
Oxford Innovation has helped more than 10,000 SMEs to become sustainable businesses since renowned entrepreneurs, Martin and Audrey Wood, founded the company in 1987. The husband and wife team also co-founded Oxford Instruments and The Oxford Trust.
According to a report* from innovation foundation, NESTA, just six per cent of high growth companies generated more than half of the UK’s employment growth.
To join the OI Space Network cluster and apply to the incubator programme, businesses and start-up founders are required to express interest online by 30th April 2018. To join or find out more, visit: https://www.oispace.co.uk/registration/