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Space tech firm Celestia puts down roots at Heriot-Watt

Jose Alonso: highly collaborative environment

Celestia UK, which specialises in the advancement of antenna systems used for tracking satellites, is making Heriot-Watt University’s Research Park its permanent base in Scotland.

The decision follows a five month residency at the University’s Global Research Innovation and Discovery (GRID) facility.

Establishing the business at the Research Park will enable the company to embark on its next development phase, which includes setting up new lab and assembly facilities.

It will also provide it with a larger base from which to deliver satellite-on-the-move user terminals and gateway systems.

Following a £2.5 million R&D award from Scottish Enterprise earlier this year to develop a new electronic scanning antenna, Celestia UK will create 18 jobs, recruiting engineers across several disciplines.

The enterprise team at GRID has been hugely supportive from day one

– Jose Alonso, Celestia

In its new facilities, the company will design and produce a flat panel satellite antenna for aircraft, pioneering a next generation satellite link for enhanced in-flight connectivity.

Scotland has a strong and growing reputation in the space industry with companies in the sector increasing from 104 to 132 between 2016 and 2019. 18% of jobs in the UK space sector are now based in Scotland, according to the UK Space Agency.

José Alonso, chairman of Celestia UK’s parent company, Celestia Technologies Group, said: “We moved to GRID at Heriot-Watt University 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.

“The enterprise team at GRID has been hugely supportive from day one, providing a highly collaborative environment for us as a dynamic, young tech start-up. They played a key role in helping us establish our business in Edinburgh and, in particular, in strengthening our links with the University and local businesses.

“With GRID’s support, we have been able to build a visible presence in the Research Park, alongside other internationally renowned companies that have been successfully operating here for a while.

“For us, it feels like a setting where high tech companies and SMEs with a strong R&D focus in Scotland can really 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.”

The Research Park provides the flexibility for Celestia UK to establish lab facilities as well as offices, and to grow as the business develops. It offers the opportunity to connect with other companies with similar facilities and expertise.

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Additionally, the National Robotarium, a world-class R&D facility in robotics and autonomous systems, will open on Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh campus next year.

Mr Alonso adds: “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, Head of Commercialisation at Heriot-Watt University, 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.”

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