Business development · 2 January 2018

Search for young space entrepreneurs launched by government

The UK builds around 40 per cent of the world’s small satellites
The UK builds around 40 per cent of the world’s small satellites

The UK’s Space Agency is offering young space entrepreneurs expert support, and a share of a £50,000 prize, for their ideas on how satellites can help improve life on Earth.

The SatelLife Challenge is open to space entrepreneurs aged between 11 and 22. The competition is open until 25 February, and will look for innovations that have the potential to use data collected from satellites that could benefit the UK economy, people’s health or the environment.

Now in its second year, the competition is split into three age groups, with prizes of £7,500 awarded to the best individuals and best teams in each group. A further seven entries from across the age categories have the chance to win £5,000.

The aim is to give Britain’s younger space entrepreneurs the opportunity to test their startup ideas with space industry experts. It focuses on developing the science, data handling and technological skills of young space entrepreneurs.

Entries can be as teams or individuals, and all prize winners will be able to pitch their idea to a panel of ‘dragons’ from the space industry.

Science minister Jo Johnson said: “We need to ensure the potential benefits of space are felt across the whole economy and encourage young British entrepreneurs to develop ideas that rival the best in the world.”

The UK space industry is a fast-growing sector, building around 40 per cent of the world’s small satellites and 25 per cent of its telecommunications satellites. The industry also creates 40,000 jobs and generates £14bn in revenue annually for the UK economy.

In its industrial strategy last year, the government set out its plan to grow the UK’s share of the global space industry to 10 per cent by 2030.

Last year’s competition saw a diverse mix of ideas submitted from young space entrepreneurs across Britain, ranging from a technology to increase survival rates amongst heart attack victims to an app warning people about impending natural disasters and how they can get away safely.

The competition’s overall winner was 14-year old James Pearson from Lincolnshire, who had the idea for an app that provided data on coastal flood risks.

Pearson said: “The competition was absolutely amazing for me. It has opened my eyes to the opportunities that are around us. I have really had to push myself to learn new things.

“So far, I have continued to get my website operational, I’ve been scanning the satellites for more images and I’ve increased my computing power.

“I have really enjoyed this competition as it has developed my confidence, I was thrilled to win and just to learn about the space industry and technology.”

Johnson added: “Satellites are shaping our society and increasingly important for our economy. Every second they send information around the world, keep shipping lanes and flightpaths clear and help us get to where we want to be.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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