Businesses urged to a grab slice of £50k space sector grant by technology bosses
15 November 2016
Businesses are being encouraged to grab a slice of a £50,000 incubation grant by bosses at a top science and technology base.
The OpTIC Centre in St Asaph has secured cash from the UK Space Agency (UKSA) to support companies looking to enter the sector.
OpTIC Director Caroline Gray revealed the windfall has created plenty of interest and says people working in the industries of engineering, solar power, manufacturing, software engineering, electronic or mechanical systems, design or manufacture should get in touch to find out how they could collaborate on future projects.
Caroline says the Wrexham Glyndwr University centre - which has formed new alliances over the past 12 months with HE providers and R&D giants – has a long-standing reputation for backing business and nurturing start-ups.
“Securing this grant was testament to the hard work of everyone here at the OpTIC Technology Centre,” she said.
“We work closely with many different sectors but I think a lot of them don’t see themselves as working in an industry that could connect to the space sector, which could not be further from the truth.
“The UKSA utilises many different supply chains with companies operating in fields of engineering design and manufacture, software design, energy management and more, so I would urge people in those areas to get in touch with us to see how we can work together and capitalise on this grant.”
Led by Caroline, a bid was entered following calls from the UKSA as part of its Innovation and Growth Strategy: Space Growth Action Plan.
The proposal highlighted the need to grow space industries in UK regions by providing a supportive commercial environment to assist entrepreneurs to develop small companies.
One method of doing this is through expanding direct support available for business incubation centres across the UK, which is why OpTIC was chosen.
The centre will also be promoting and hosting a series of industry relevant networking events utilising their extensive business and conference centre facilities.
Caroline said: “The vision is to ensure and support the development of a high-quality, consistent supply chain for the sector. Glyndŵr Innovations is working to maximise and expand current links to form a North Wales base of knowledge transfer, technological expertise and a programme of business and technical support in an environment which allows small companies to concentrate on growth and development without the constant pressure of everyday business concerns.
“It will, through its networks such as the North West Innovation Network, collaborate closely with similarly focused incubation units throughout the UK to share best practice and ensure small companies benefit through a national network of relevant events taking place in their sector.”
Meanwhile, OpTIC has goodbye to one of its longest-standing incubation clients.
Kent Periscopes – which was acquired by Gooch and Housego (G&H) in the summer – is moving across St Asaph Business Park to new premises.
Kent was founded in 2005 and has established itself as a market-leading key supplier on major vehicle programmes to blue-chip military manufacturers.
Managing Director John Oliver praised colleagues in St Asaph for helping them on the path to success, and looks forward this new chapter in the firm’s 11 year history.
“There’s no doubt the OpTIC Centre has been a fundamental part of the successful growth of our company,” he said
“We have been at OpTIC since the early stages and they have made it easy to accommodate us as we have grown both our office and production employees. We have also had fantastic support and services but we have now reached the point where we needed our own dedicated production facility to deal with our increasing order book.”
John added: “Having access to the optical specialists, test equipment, meeting and catering facilities and the general networking environment a facility like OpTIC offers has helped us concentrate on building our business.
“We decided to stay nearby as we can see that collaboration continuing. Having secured several long term contracts from clients such as General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin we needed to increase our capacity and capability. Our new owners Gooch & Housego have been very supportive of our growth plans and will help us expand into other countries in the world where they have a presence and local support.”
Caroline added: “We wish Kent Periscopes every success and are now looking to the future as new companies seek to join us here at OpTIC and begin their business journey with our support.”
For more information, visit www.glyndwrinnovations.co.uk or call 01745 535208.
NOTES: Originally part of the Welsh Government’s Technium Network and designed to build on the active Optoelectronics industry cluster in the St Asaph area. The OpTIC Centre has existed at the heart of the St Asaph business park community for more than 13 years. Today, the centre provides a service unique to the area, offering a commercial platform for incubating technology businesses as Glyndwr Innovations Ltd. It provides a fully supported operational environment for start-up and SME technology businesses to thrive. The centre is currently home to 12 incubating and SME businesses who all benefit from the unique, inclusive incubator package offered by the centre. The resident businesses cover a broad technology base including biotechnology manufacturing, optoelectronic systems engineering, engineering design and construction and also include research groups from The University of Swansea (Solar energy CSER) and Huddersfield University (robotics, AI). Also on offer is access to the group’s world class expertise in the metrology of large and complex surfaces. The group draws on the multi-million pound technical resource investments made by Glyndwr University, technical funding councils and Welsh Government in measurement and fabrication facilities, all based at the St Asaph facility. Activities include optical test design and implementation as well as offering commercial, independent surface verification services.