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Global Business Innovation Programme visit to USA - Space

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Innovate UK is looking for entrepreneurs to join their next mission to the USA. If you’re an SME with a world leading space technology, application or service and have ambitions to grow your company, this mission could be the right opportunity for you.

Satellite orbiting the earth

Next February Innovate UK and the EEN (Enterprise Europe Network) will be accompanying a group of SMEs on the fourth space entrepreneurs mission to the USA. The missions are designed to open doors to leading players in the US space and satellite sector as well as the influential investment community.

Visiting Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Los Angeles, companies looking for investment will take part in a packed programme. It is all about making the most of the time in California and activities will include VC pitching, site visits, networking and attendance at the SmallSat Symposium.

Barry Ross, CEO of E2E Services went on the last space mission and found out first hand about the opportunities for his company:

… it was opening doors to some huge players, that when you’re a European company or British company you really don’t get in to see.

Round sign against a blue sky background with the words 'Silicon Valley' in the centre surrounded by a red band with white stars

Why the USA?

Innovate UK has already had three successful missions to the USA so why keep going back?

The USA is the largest global space market with huge revenues and enviable sector growth.  The 2018 State of the Satellite Industry (SIA) Report estimates that satellite services, manufacturing and ground equipment brought in revenues of US$264 billion, with manufacturing seeing growth of 10%.  It is therefore not surprising that the USA is a key market for the UK space sector.

Increasing the UK’s share by 1%, could generate £1 billion per year of additional revenue by 2023.

Work towards that increase often needs financial support but access to finance has been identified as a barrier to the growth of the space sector in the UK. That can be where inward investment can help.

illuminated image of a space rocket, the word 'startup, and images for 'graphs, light & target' on a tablet screen

A hub for space companies

California is the birth place of many technology start-ups and is a hub for space companies. The culture of investing in high-tech companies that has developed in California alongside this growth presents opportunities for UK businesses that can’t be ignored.

Last year saw record investments from California in UK tech companies and this mission aims to tap into that US appetite.

Mike Lawton, founder and CEO at Oxford Space Systems has been on all three missions and is familiar with the US investment environment:

Being profiled as a credible investment opportunity by Innovate UK automatically puts your business ahead of competitors seeking investment. From experience, US investors are keen to see credible UK opportunities – and especially those that might compliment their existing sector investments in the US.

A mission isn’t just about the trip to the USA

This mission is part of the Global Business Innovation Programme which supports businesses to take advantage of the opportunities offered through overseas missions.

At Innovate UK we believe that the time spent preparing for the trip and the follow on actions are as crucial as the mission itself. Which is why the SMEs on this mission benefit from a package of support providing access to resources and information.

Making sure that you and your business are ready to pitch for foreign investment is an obligation we take seriously.

All SMEs that come on the mission need to take part in an intensive pitch training workshop, make use of individual coaching sessions and be instructed on what it takes to do business and be successful in the USA.

There will also be follow on support to maximise the contacts, networks and opportunities made whilst in California.

Piece of block tarmac road with a yellow line and the wording 'preparation is the key to success'

But don’t just take our word on the benefits…

There’s nothing like hearing about what it is like to go on a mission than from someone who’s actually been so I advise you to watch the video of the last mission. The footage takes you through the different networking and pitching opportunities that the companies experienced as well as some honest views of what the visit was like.

Charles Black, founder and CEO of SEN reflected on the last day of his visit and of the value of going on Mission 3.

The key thing is warm introductions to venture capital funds. You’ve got to get out here, there’s no point staying in the UK and hoping you can email your investor presentation over here. You come to events out here, you network with people and you will talk to investors and partners in firms

How to apply

The opportunity to join Innovate UK and the EEN on this mission is via a competitive process which is open now.

For approved companies, Innovate UK will organise and fund the flights, five nights accommodation and meals for one representative from an innovative SME, active in the space sector and established in the UK.

Key dates

How to apply can be found here, and the key dates are shown below:

  • Applications close at 9am on the 16th November 2018
  • Applicants notified of the outcome by 26th November 2018
  • Pre-mission workshops - Tuesday 11th December 2018 and 9th-10th January 2019
  • Fly to the USA on Sunday 3rd February and return Friday 8th February 2019 (arrive back in the UK Saturday 9th February 2019)


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