Today, at Harwell Campus, the Science and Technology Facilities Council is celebrating the 60th start-up company to graduate from the successful European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre (ESA BIC UK).
Managed and co-funded by STFC, since 2011 the ESA BIC UK has supported 67 start-ups who are using space and satellite technology to develop new products and services, with an impressive survival rate of 94%, and collectively raising over £40 million in investment to date.
Space technology company, Ridersmate, is the 60th company to graduate from the ESA BIC UK, where it has been using satellite technology in combination with a bespoke coding system to develop a new generation of wearable tracker for use at sea, called eCall Marine, that will help emergency responders save lives, resources and money.
eCall Marine is activated either by pressing the emergency button or automatically when it comes into contact with water, and will directly notify the emergency services of an incident at sea and provide an immediate and reliable two-way voice conversation with the caller from anywhere in the world. This enables the emergency services to gain information on the severity of the emergency and the number and condition of victims, enabling them to respond appropriately with the appropriate resources. The device also provides constant updates on the exact coordinates of the incident, along with the temperature, direction and speed of the current which enables them to pinpoint exactly not only where the victim was, but where he will be at point of rescue, eliminating the need for endless hours of search.
Using satellite communications eliminates the worry and risk of relying on lesser communications through mobile networks which do not work should they be more than just a couple of kilometres offshore.
STFC’s Dr Sue O’Hare, Operations Manager for the ESA BIC UK, said: “Turning a brilliant idea into a viable commercial offering is a huge challenge and the ESA BIC UK provides the right environment and support to do this. Ridersmate is a perfect example of how space and satellite technology can be applied to develop a product and service that will not only save lives but will also save costs and the resources of our UK emergency services. I’m thrilled to be celebrating our 60 alumni milestone with Ridersmate and am looking forward to hearing about their future successes.”
David Coleman Director and Founder of Ridersmate said: “When we first pitched the idea of eCall Marine, we were told it couldn’t be done. However, thanks to the opportunity we have had to be part of the ESA BIC UK, we have proved our concept, carried out successful trials and are gearing up to launch. The costs involved in bringing a product to market from scratch are high and very time consuming, and for this reason ideas often go no further than the ‘garden shed’. Financial support has been a huge element, but the support we’ve had has been so much more than that. Office space, a start-up environment and funding advice combined with business and patent support have been invaluable. Thank you ESA BIC UK for supporting our idea and helping us bring it out of the garden shed!”