An £8.4 million (€9.5 million) investment in Goonhilly Earth Station in Cornwall, South West England, will help create the world’s first commercial deep-space communications station, capable of tracking future missions to the Moon and Mars.
Under a new project announced today by the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Goonhilly will be upgraded to enable it to provide deep-space tracking and satellite communication services on a commercial basis.
It will be the first time the UK has had the capability to communicate directly with deep-space missions.
In future, Goonhilly will complement the capability of the European Space Agency (ESA)’s worldwide ground station network, which today comprises seven core stations supporting more than 20 earth, observatory, planetary and exploration spacecraft as well as European launchers.
The contract is being funded through the LEP’s Growth Deal with the UK Government, via ESA. The investment will see ESA working with Goonhilly to upgrade one of its largest antennas, the 32 m-diameter GHY-6 antenna built in 1985, to meet the high-end performance and technology requirements needed by ESA, NASA and private space exploration companies for deep-space communications, including high bit-rate data links.
The investment will provide a huge boost to Cornwall’s space ambitions. Once the upgrade work is complete, Goonhilly will have the ability to track and control forthcoming robotic and human missions to the Moon and Mars, making a significant technical and economic contribution to European efforts in global space exploration.
During the approximately two-year work to upgrade the antenna – which carried the 1985 Live Aid concert around the world shortly after it was built – qualifying tests will be carried out under ESA’s oversight to include tracking of several of the Agency’s deep-space missions, including the Mars Express spacecraft which has been in orbit around the Red Planet since 2003.
Science Minister Sam Gyimah said: “We’re working hard to ensure the UK thrives in the commercial space age as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, so it’s fantastic to see the world’s first commercial deep space communications network coming to Cornwall.
“The UK Space Agency has played a vital role in supporting this partnership and will continue to work alongside industry, local leaders and international partners to grow the UK’s share of the global space market. We already play a significant role in satellite manufacturing, with one in four of the world’s telecommunications satellites built in the UK, and want to establish the UK as a world-leading destination for space launch. ”
Goonhilly CEO Ian Jones said: “We already have a great deal of interest in using the upgraded antenna from our international customer base. This includes space agencies, such as ESA, as well as some of the new private space exploration companies.
“The team here at Goonhilly, along with colleagues at the LEP, ESA and the UK Space Agency, have been working incredibly hard to achieve this fantastic outcome. We now look forward to getting on with the upgrade work which will bring a new expansion of the company.”
The UK’s Local Growth Minister, Jake Berry, said: “It is very encouraging to see a Local Enterprise Partnership using Government’s Growth Deal funding to support a rapidly growing sector through public and private sector collaboration. This contract will create skilled new jobs in the local area while assuring Cornwall’s place in history for its contribution to space exploration.”
Sandra Rothwell, chief executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, said: “This is a fantastic boost to Cornwall’s space ambitions and significantly enhances what the UK can offer the fast-growing global space industry – which is a key ambition of the Government’s Industrial Strategy. There will be more than 50 lunar and deep space missions planned over the next decade and it means our region can participate directly in global space programmes. This is a major strategic investment by the LEP, using Growth Deal funding to build on our existing world-class assets to create an economy fit for the 21st century.”
David Parker, ESA’s Director of Human and Robotic Exploration, said: “ESA’s missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond help answer profound questions about the origins of life and humanity’s place in the Universe. They demand cutting-edge skills and technology while also inspiring the next generation with curiosity and wonder. Upgrading the Goonhilly Earth Station for the new era of space exploration, which involves many countries and organisations around the world, should position it as key player in this exciting future.”
Rolf Densing, ESA’s Director of Operations, said: “By the middle 2020s, ESA’s deep-space communication needs for current missions, like Gaia and ExoMars, and future missions like BepiColombo, Solar Orbiter and Juice, are projected to exceed the Agency’s current capacity by up to 50 percent. Upgrading Goonhilly and building up a commercial capability to support future exploration missions is good for ESA, good for European science and industry and excellent value for European taxpayers.”
As well as taking on 18 new staff, the team at Goonhilly are expecting a significant upsurge in interest in the space sector in Cornwall. A number of companies are now looking at the growing capability both at Goonhilly and Cornwall Airport Newquay, which are both part of the Aerohub Enterprise Zone offering 100% business rate relief.
The LEP’s contribution comes from the Government’s Local Growth Fund, which is investing over £70m through the ‘Growth Deal’ programme to improve infrastructure and grow the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Separately, the LEP has plans to develop a commercial spaceport at Cornwall Airport Newquay. Small satellite launch and sub-orbital flight from UK spaceports could capture a share of a £10bn global launch opportunity over the next 10 years.
With new spaceflight laws and grant funding announcements expected in the next few months, Cornwall is well prepared to make the most of this opportunity.
According to the UK Space Agency, the global market for space is expected to increase from £155bn per annum to £400bn per annum by 2030. The UK Government has set a target of securing 10% of this global space economy, £40bn per annum, by 2030.
The next Marine-i Discovery Room event will focus on two power systems that will play a vital role in the future of marine vessels: Hybrid Propulsion and Smart Battery Technology. It takes place at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth on Wednesday 21st February.
Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Marine-i provides support for the marine technology sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Its Discovery Room events are designed to draw together all the very latest thinking on a specific theme of marine technology and highlight opportunities for businesses.
Emma Baggett, Falmouth Marine School’s Business Development Manager, is the lead organiser for this event. She says:
“Hybrid Propulsion and Smart Battery Technology are two areas of marine technology that have a massive role to play in helping vessels of the future to operate more efficiently, while also optimising power consumption and reducing emissions. This Marine-i event is a perfect opportunity for businesses to get briefed on the very latest developments and find out what they need to do to succeed in this exciting field. It will also give them the chance to meet useful new contacts who may want to collaborate on bringing technologies to market.”
Expert speakers will include Professor Chris Hodge, President of IMarEST; Richard Winter of VETUS UK; Phil James from Barrus UK; Graeme Hawksley of Hybrid Marine; Ken Wittamore of Triskel Marine; Trevor Jackson of Metalectrique Battery Systems; and Darren Barnett of MTU UK. Topics will range from the latest state of the art hybrid systems, to the naval applications of the technology and the financial case for operators. The day will be chaired by Professor John Chudley, Director of Professional Development at IMarEST.
Attendance at the event is free, and delegates can register at the following link:
For further information regarding Cornwall’s marine technology sector talk to Peter Holland, one Cornwall Trade and Investment’s Business Development Managers.
Marine-i, the EU funded programme set up to boost the marine technology sector in Cornwall, has made its first grant award to Cornish marinetech company Triskel Marine.
Employing eight people, Triskel Marine is a hi-tech company which recently moved to the Marine Enterprise Zone in Hayle, Cornwall. The company specialises in marine data management, communications and power control for the marine industry. They engaged with the Marine-i programme in order to progress a new product from working prototype to commercial product. The innovative product will be launched from Cornwall into the fast-growing global hybrid energy market for mid-sized boats. It is expected to be unveiled at a launch event in the USA in Autumn 2018.
The grant to Triskel Marine, the first from Marine-i’s Marine Challenge Fund, has enabled the company to build a comprehensive hybrid test rig for its new product. Triskel Marine’s founder and Managing Director, Ken Wittamore, says: “Hybrid energy and propulsion are the future. Marine-i has enabled us to supercharge our research and development on this ground-breaking new product. The grant means we’ve been able to purchase specialised test equipment and prototyping tools, and to buy computer modelling software. It is enabling us to carry out the world class testing that is vital to our success.”
Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Marine-i is a £9.3m collaboration between the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, The Cornwall College Group, Cornwall Marine Network, Cornwall Development Company and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult. It brings together key infrastructure and expertise to enable technology innovation in the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly’s marine sector, which has been identified as an area of high growth potential by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.
Professor Lars Johanning from the University of Exeter’s Penryn campus, who leads the Marine-i initiative, says: “Marine-i delivers the most comprehensive range of support ever offered to businesses to enable marine technology growth in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. This includes grant funding, business assistance, academic research, test facilities, subsidised graduate placement and more.
“Triskel Marine is a great example of a highly innovative specialist company within Cornwall. The Marine-i consortium has been really impressed with Triskel’s technology and their plans to bring it to market. We’re delighted that Marine-i can enable this growth for Cornwall’s marine tech sector.”
To find out more about Cornwall’s marine technology sector, or about the Marine-i programme, contact the Cornwall Trade and Investment team.
Farmers have historically been early adopters of technology whether it is the move from horses to tractors or the adoption of GPS and other precision farming techniques. The constant drive to improve farm efficiency and profitability is an ever increasing challenge as well as an opportunity.
However, with a few notable exceptions, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has not been an area where the actual technology that is taken up by farmers has been researched or developed. The Cornwall Agri-tech Project has been designed to help address this issue. The market is ripe for innovative advancements within Agritech; and by supporting and accelerating the development of the Agri-tech sector it is hoped that new businesses, jobs and growth will be encouraged.
Eligible businesses must be operating within the scope of the Agritech project (in the identified four research strands):
How to access the Innovation Grants
The Innovation Grants are one element of the overall project and are managed by Cornwall Development Company, and range from £2,500 to £50,000. These grants are available for eligible small and medium-sized businesses based in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and can be used towards the cost of a range of Research, Development and Innovation (RD&I) activities. These can include feasibility studies, commissioning specialist research, the purchase of equipment for RD&I related activity, or to cover consultancy costs to undertake an RD&I project.
The Business Engagement Managers (Caroline Hanlan and Liz Gilbert) can offer businesses support and advice with their application and procurement, ensuring eligibility of activity. Both Liz and Caroline, have extensive experience within the rural and farm business sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
If the Innovation Grant is not the most suitable form of support Caroline and Liz can also put businesses in contact with the other partners in the Cornwall Agri-tech project to see if a larger collaborative research project would be a better way of achieving the necessary RD&I outcomes. In addition, there is salary subsidy funding available towards the wages of a job created with a research and development element for eligible businesses within Agritech. This is managed by Unlocking Potential.
The Cornwall Agri-tech Project is led by Duchy College and involves the University of Exeter, University of Plymouth, Rothamsted research and the Cornwall Development Company. Between them they aim to support new Agri-tech related ideas and innovation from Cornish based businesses.
The Cornwall Agri-tech project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Cornwall Council and the Council for the Isles of Scilly.
If you have a great idea which you would like to research or develop, or you know a business that does, get in touch with our friendly team.
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An exciting opportunity has arisen with the SpaceTech Incubation Initiative who are offering up to six promising space technology businesses the chance to participate in an award-winning entrepreneurs’ programme on behalf of SETsquared, the global no.1 university business incubator.
The programme, which will be held at Exeter Science Park from 26-28 February 2018 aims to boost small businesses looking at new space technology in the South West. It includes a unique package of entrepreneurship training, bespoke business support and the opportunity for grow-on space. There will also be access to grant support. Funded by the UK Space Agency, the South West programme is part of the UK Space Incubator Network.
Having been successfully launched in March and following exceptional interest, this is the second call for applications to the programme.
One of the first graduates of the programme, Mike Badley has since launched his cutting-edge business. Sigma Technical is a pioneering robotics firm that is developing a state-of-the-art diagnostic and physical training machine. Mike attracted £5k of funding through the South West Centre of Excellence for Satellite Applications and significant support from Innovate UK. His impressive design has also resulted in Sigma receiving a Seal of Excellence from the European Commission via Horizon 2020. Mike now has his own facility at the Exeter Science Park Centre.
Growing businesses, start-ups, and individuals with great ideas around developing space technology, applications for satellite or other space-related data, or with applications of digital and other technology for space environments are encouraged to apply. Applications close at 11:59 PM on 21 January 2018. For more information and details on how to apply, please visit the website.
The SpaceTech Incubation Initiative is an initiative of the South West Centre of Excellence for Satellite Applications (SWCoESA; funded by the Satellite Applications Catapult and the UK Space Agency) in partnership with Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd., SETsquared and the University of Exeter. Providing the opportunity for entrepreneurs focused on space-centric innovation, the SpaceTech Incubation Initiative enables participants to gain support and expert input from industry.
Whether you’re looking to locate in Cornwall, or to start exporting beyond its borders, get in touch with our friendly team to talk through your needs.