Entrepreneurs ready for lift off with new space programme

NORTH East entrepreneurs are being urged to tap into the billion pound space sector and apply for a coveted spot with a programme designed to help them lift off.

Business Durham, the economic development company for County Durham, received a grant from the UK Space Agency earlier this year to set up the North East Space Incubator Programme at the North East Technology Park, (NETPark) in Sedgefield, County Durham.

Now the programme is ready to take on the first entrepreneurs who will be entitled to £7,500 worth of professional services, such as advice on IP protection, financial management, marketing and business planning, based in an environment surrounded by some of the world’s most innovative companies.

The support programme is being delivered in partnership with the UK Space Agency, which has plans for the UK to secure ten per cent of the anticipated £400bn global space market by 2030, and will be part of a network of incubators which will collaborate on events and initiatives.

The £50,000 investment in the programme builds on the significant impact the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence, one of only five in the country and also based at NETPark, has already made.

Many companies are receiving support via the centre to tap into the satellite applications market, such as Weardale-based FarmWatcher UK, an online community to tackle rural crime, which is looking to develop an equine tracker and an App to warn farmers of nearby crime.

There will be a robust selection process for the innovation support programme with only three coveted places this year.

Catherine Johns, Business Durham’s director of innovation and business growth, said:

“The creation of the North East Space Incubator Programme will allow the region to fully realise its potential and build upon the momentum being created by the Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence. We can help businesses diversify, innovate and explore the huge potential of this global sector and elevate their ideas to the next level. It will continue to help drive growth and prosperity in the North East.”

The UK Space Agency will help with access to other programmes, such as the National Space Technology Programme, through the Centre for Earth Observation instrumentation and Space Technology.

Colin Baldwin, UK Space Gateway programme manager for the UK Space Agency, said: “There are opportunities for a range of companies developing innovative products that can exploit space data or technology.

“NETPark is a world class location for science and technology companies and will provide a dynamic and supportive environment to accelerate the growth of these ambitious, innovative businesses into markets across the world.”

To apply for a place or for more information log onto http://www.northeasttechnologypark.com/space

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