Funding to extend space programme in the North East

A CENTRE which helps North East businesses tap into the billion pound space sector has won an extension to its programme after successfully supporting new businesses and job creation.

The North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence, based at the North East Technology Park (NETPark), in Sedgefield, County Durham, has won funding to extend the programme for a further three years. It will focus on identifying opportunities to use satellite data and space technology to develop products and services to help us feel safer in the world, whether that is the security of our food chain, our infrastructure, or simply how we move about the planet.

The three year extension will be co-funded by the Satellite Applications Catapult and the UK Space Agency and will build collaborations to win funding and contracts to support more than 300 businesses; create or safeguard 100 jobs and attract more than £5m of funding into the North East.

Companies to have benefited from the Centre of Excellence include Realsafe Technologies, which has developed Realrider, the first and only 999 certified app on the market fitted with a crash detection system which connects riders involved in an accident to the nearest ambulance service. The centre opened doors to the Catapult in Oxfordshire to enable the company to enter the European Satellite Navigation competition. It won the UK round and was runner up in the overall European competition.

Andrew Richardson, chief commercial officer, of Realsafe Technologies, said: “The competition helped to get us accreditation as the first and only 999 certified app on the market. If we hadn’t worked with the NETPark team at the Satellite Applications Centre, we wouldn’t have been able to open the doors into the competition which has done so much for us to help raise our profile.”

Catherine Mealing-Jones, Director of Growth at the UK Space Agency, said: “I am delighted that the UK Space Agency is supporting the North East Centre of Excellence – they have developed a vibrant space community in the region and the next phase of funding will build upon and strengthen this network, delivering new collaborations and bringing further new players into the sector.”

Professor Nick Veck, Head of Strategy at the Satellite Applications Catapult said: “The North-East Centre of Excellence has made a significant impact in helping to develop and expand the space sector in the North East. They are successfully working with the local community, helping entrepreneurs and SMEs develop new businesses, solutions and applications using space data. We are delighted to be able to extend their funding for a further three years.”

The Centre is one of only five in the country, and was established three years ago by a consortium led by Business Durham, the economic development company working on behalf of Durham County Council, and funded by the Satellite Applications Catapult. It has already achieved a significant impact, drawing together and establishing a cluster of companies which are taking advantage of the burgeoning space market, also securing further funding from the EU to promote research and innovation in space and photonics.

Councillor Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, said: “Developments like the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence are helping to improve lives and make exciting advances in technology and we are delighted that they choose to do that from the heart of our county.

“Through our work with Business Durham, we strive to shine a light on the opportunities available here, showcasing Durham as an ideal county in which to live, work, invest, study and visit and we are proud that such exciting developments as this continue to be created here in the county.”

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