Satellite tracking start-up makes its home in Edinburgh

Image credit: Marketing Edinburgh

Celestia UK, a start-up working on antenna systems for satellite tracking, is to make its permanent base in Heriot-Watt University Research Park, Edinburgh’s largest science park.

The company – which was founded in Oxford in 2017 – has made the decision to permanently settle in Edinburgh following a five-month residency at Heriot-Watt’s tech transfer facility. It recently received a £2.5m R&D award from Scottish Enterprise to support the development of electronic scanning antennas for satellite tracking.

The Scottish space industry is thriving, with the number of companies in the sector increasing from 104 to 132 between 2016 and 2019. According to the UK Space Agency, 18 per cent of jobs in the UK space sector are now based in Scotland, although less than 10 per cent of the country's population lives in Scotland.

“We moved to [Heriot-Watt’s facilities] in January 2020, having chosen Scotland because of its burgeoning space sector, which is characterised by a high level of skill, R&D, and investment,” said José Alonso, chair of Celestia UK’s Dutch parent company Celestia Technologies Group. Alonso said that Celestia UK had built a visible presence at Heriot-Watt’s Research Park, which felt like a setting where cutting-edge tech start-ups can thrive.

“To fuel our growth, we’re able to build a team from a wealth of talent on the doorstep at Heriot-Watt and other universities, as well as from professionals within the Scottish space industry who value the location, facilities, and beautiful environment of the Research Park.”

In its next development phase, Celestia will work on new gateway systems and “satellite-on-the-move” user terminals. It will establish new laboratory and assembly facilities in Edinburgh, and will employ 18 more people in Scotland, including engineers from a range of disciplines.

It will also work to design and manufacture a flat-panel satellite antenna for aircraft: part of a next-generation satellite link system for improved in-flight connectivity.

Alonso added: “Being on site at an early stage is key for our business and we look forward to the growth opportunities this will bring.”

Paul Devlin, Heriot-Watt’s head of commercialisation, commented: “We’ve been delighted to welcome Celestia UK to the University and help in the company’s expansion. With Heriot-Watt's expertise in delivering commercial, strategic and innovation support, we look forward to future collaborations and helping companies grow into exciting, profitable, world-class businesses.
“Celestia UK is a hugely innovative technology business and a natural fit for the Research Park. Existing tenants undertake research and development across a range of sectors, from petroleum engineering, biotechnology and business to information and communication technology, driving businesses towards the point of manufacture.” 

There are well developed plans for the UK’s first spaceport to be established in Sutherland, in the Scottish Highlands, with the local planning applications committee having voted unanimously last month to approve plans for the hub.

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