One of the things I enjoy most in my role is the diversity of companies that I meet across many different sectors. That includes an innovative shrimp pot in Newtown to a high-tech internet security protocol in Anglesey. I was therefore really keen to add my support to this event.
Great potential for Wales businesses in the space sector
The UK Space Agency is expanding support for business incubation centres in the North, North Wales and East Midlands. They offer a supportive business environment and help entrepreneurs to develop small, flexible and ambitious companies. And they’re not messing around. They have a strategic vision to achieve a 10% share of the global space market by 2030 and their way of achieving that is by acting as a catalyst for business.
Optic, which will be home to the incubator is a centre of excellence for optoelectronics, focused on innovation in the satellite, semiconductor and precision optics sectors. I visited a couple of weeks before the event with Jonathan Wood from Innovate UK and saw behind the scenes, where activities include polishing mirrors of the world's largest telescope
Caroline Gray, Director of the Optic Centre, opened the conference by highlighting the vision of a high-quality, consistent supply chain, alongside a North Wales base of knowledge. Craig Brown, Innovate UK’s lead technologist in Space, then provided an overview of how business fits into the £11.8 billion UK space industry and support structures
It was great to see the EEN and KTN feature in the presentation and introduced as part of the Innovate UK ‘family’ which aims to answer the myriad of business support needs that you and your businesses may require.
At the EEN stand, networking breaks gave me the opportunity to meet some really innovative companies, as well as providing a chance to catch up with old connections. We are quite rural in my area so, with other business support providers from the Welsh Government, local councils and Business Wales teams, we have developed a “Team North Wales” approach as the best way to help clients. It means this type of event is always good in maintaining the contact and goodwill.
More talks followed after lunch, from Gwion Williams (Welsh Government), James Evans (Denbigh Council) and Chris Artherton (Northern Space Consortium). John Whalley of the Wales Aerospace Forum also gave a very forward-thinking talk. He looked forward to 2052 and the likely achievements in space travel by then, based around the Llanbedr Spaceport site in Gwynedd, and an industry built on the foundations of current businesses and more technologies yet to be invented.
Technology and opportunity created at the Optic Incubator
Kent Periscopes demonstrated the true impact of being involved with the Optic Incubator by providing an account of how they had been supported to grow and now employ more than 100 people.
Having set up my stand in the morning, with EEN profiles describing live opportunities available on the EEN partnership opportunities database, when it came to packing up at the end of the day I only had two profiles left and a wad of business cards to follow up on.
I’m now looking forward to working with some of the interesting companies I met, to help them reach their international ambitions and to contributing to the success of a thriving and exciting sector.