Plexal and Airbus collaborate to help non-traditional businesses launch into the space sector

Plexal and Airbus have partnered on a new project, the Airbus Space Accelerator, which is designed to help startups, SMEs and academics with a desire to enter the space industry.

Delivered by Plexal, the Airbus Space Accelerator is not only open to existing spacetech companies but also for any businesses working on hardware and software technologies with potential applications in space, such as in-orbit application, ground-based technologies, engineering tools or data analytics.

Our combined support will allow the selected candidates to advance their developments, benefitting from the longstanding space and technical expertise at Airbus Defence and Space. This division of the organisation sits at the heart of the UK’s space ecosystem, employing over 3,000 people in the UK across multiple sites.

Part of the wider Airbus Community for Space Prosperity (CUSP) initiative to develop the UK’s space ecosystem, our goal with the Airbus Space Accelerator is to help businesses move their technology forward, while simultaneously gaining knowledge of how the commercial space sector operates and building out their network.

Those selected for the Airbus Space Accelerator can expect to receive: 

  • Expert mentorship 
  • Tailored product development support 
  • Access to Airbus Defence and Space’s engineering and business expertise 
  • Operational scaling guidance 
  • Founder peer support and resilience training 
  • Access to a coworking space for the duration of the programme 

A combination of in-person and virtual activity, the programme will run from July through to October. Interested parties must be located in a NATO member state, Australia or New Zealand and will be expected to attend all sessions to successfully complete the programme.

Commenting at the Space Comm Expo, Kata Escott, Airbus Defence and Space UK MD and Head of Country, detailed that the programme “will fill a gap in the market by providing technical acceleration for the most innovative SMEs in our sector.”

She continued: “It will enable competence, exchange, innovation and skills to grow your business regional development and exports. A thriving sector here in the UK is in all our interests. And we are working together to build it.” 

James Gayner, Director of Defence at Plexal, says: “This exciting programme promises to make a real impact in the UK space ecosystem; the ability to access Airbus’ expertise and facilities plus our specialism at helping early-stage companies is a unique opportunity and I’m extremely excited to see the applications – I have no doubt the successful few will quickly make their marks in this competitive and vibrant sector.”

Hamza Huda, Defence Lead at Plexal, adds: “The Airbus Space Accelerator is an incredible opportunity for cohort members to leverage Airbus Defence and Space’s 30 plus years of in-orbit operational experience. There will also be opportunities to engage with the wider UK space ecosystem through Plexal’s network, connecting with organisations such as the UK Space Agency and UK Space Command.

“Space is critical to national security and defence and Airbus’ desire to focus upon the technical development and acceleration of technology from traditional and non-traditional space companies is confirmation that they’re engaged with the progression of the wider UK space sector. 

“Fundamentally, cohort members will benefit from access to Airbus’ facilities and technical experts with the potential to test their products and conduct deep level analysis and validation. This will enable companies to advance their technical offering with guided mentorship and apply for further funding through having certified proof that their products can operate in-orbit. Not all companies will be at this stage, but the shortlisted companies have been selected from over 150 potential members and will also benefit from being part of the Airbus Space Accelerator alumni.

“This programme will have enduring benefits for all cohort members and ultimately strengthen the UK’s space ecosystem.”