FIVE entrepreneurs have been chosen to benefit from a UK Space Agency-backed programme to help their businesses tap into the billion pound space industry.

The innovators, who range from software developers to a camera designer, will receive mentorship from a panel of experts in areas such as law, financial management, business growth, marketing, and IP protection.

Business Durham, the economic development company for County Durham working on behalf of Durham County Council, received a grant from the UK Space Agency earlier this year to set up the programme at the North East Technology Park, (NETPark) in Sedgefield, County Durham.

The entrepreneurs will be entitled to up to £10,000 worth of professional services and will be based in an environment surrounded by some of the world’s most innovative companies. Four of the business owners met the panel for the first time at an event at Ward Hadaway on Newcastle’s Quayside.

The successful innovators include:

  • Anu Chandra, of Durham-based software company Ryelore
  • Ben Mawhinney, director of Drone Industries, known for its mapping technology
  • Lizzie Withington, CEO, of Newcastle-based software company Gospelware
  • Al Yong, managing director, of Washington-based IT service provider Rymote
  • Michael Potts, of Houghton-le-Spring-based camera developers, Chapter 6

Lizzie said they mainly used satellite applications with GPS technology: “We love working on new and exciting technologies and we’re looking forward to working with the panel as we continue with ways to use satellite applications to grow our business.”

The panel which will be working with the entrepreneurs comprises Ross Golightly, director at Sphera Consulting, Karen Large of Think Innovative, Ian Swain of IS Business & Finance, Graeme Jordan of STO Consulting, Alex Shiel, Partner and Head of Intellectual Property and IT at Ward Hadaway, and Antony Hall, Partner and Head of Commercial at Mincoffs Solicitors.

The support programme is being delivered in partnership with the UK Space Agency, which has plans for the UK to secure ten per cent of the anticipated £40bn global space market by 2030, and is part of a network of incubators which will collaborate on events and initiatives.

The investment in the programme builds on the significant impact the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence, one of only five in the country and also based at NETPark, has already made.

Catherine Johns, Business Durham’s director of innovation and business growth, said:

“We hope to see all these exciting young companies continue to innovate and have doors opened for them across the world with the help of the expert panel as they look to secure a global audience for their designs and services.”

Leader of Durham County Council, Councillor Simon Henig, added: “This is another example of the way that working innovatively can produce real dividends both for the wider reputation of the county and individual businesses. We are delighted to hear about the five entrepreneurs set to benefit from this programme.

“Through our work with Business Durham, we are striving to provide a bright future for businesses based here and encourage further businesses to consider our beautiful and thriving county as a place for future investment.”