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Bright Ascension heads for change

Employee ownership plan for space tech firm

Bright Ascension

Mark McCrum and Peter Mendham (contributed)

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A space technology firm which specialises in software products and services for satellites is to become employee-owned.

Bright Ascension, based in Dundee and Edinburgh, was instrumental in the workings of the first ever Scottish satellite to rocket its way to space in 2014.

It was founded five and a half years ago by Peter Mendham who recognised the potential for creating a business specialising in software for satellite development, mission control and operations.

He was joined a year later by Dr Mark McCrum, now technical director at the company and also a software engineer with extensive experience of the space industry. 

Mr McCrum said the firm had worked with Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS).

“CDS introduced us to Capital for Colleagues, an investment vehicle focused on employee ownership and an appropriate package was developed,” he said.

“As well as the need for investment we were interested in employee ownership because it seems like the fairest way to structure the ownership of a company.

“In order to build a world class company we need to attract, retain, motivate and harness the best talent in the field and adopting an employee ownership model allows us to do that.”  

The firm, which reported a turnover of £314,000 and profits of £27,000 last year, has recently added three members of staff, taking the total to nine.

Mr said:  “Our staff have been receptive and enthusiastic to the changes so we are currently in the process of setting up an Employee Benefit Trust with an initial 20% holding of the company.

“The shares are being gifted by the current owners which is happening in conjunction with an investment by Capital for Colleagues.” 

Sarah Deas, director at CDS, added: “Bright Ascension’s main priorities were to scale up the business by attracting investment and then fully engage its employees to drive performance within the business.

“Both of these goals have been achieved through employee ownership, which gives all nine staff members a meaningful stake in their company and its future success.”

There are 80 employee-owned companies in Scotland generating a combined turnover of around £900 million.

 

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