Solving technical challenges for life-saving businesses

One of the biggest fear for a diver is to resurface out of sight of the dive boat. With access to the world-class expertise available at the ESA BIC Harwell through STFC’s RAL Space, Sci Tech (POB) Ltd has designed a device that allows the boat to track the position of resurfaced divers through a GPS - enabled signalling device.

The challenge

Sci-Tech (POB) Ltd is a young company that came to the ESA Business Incubation Centre Harwell (ESA BIC Harwell) after becoming the first ever triple winners of the 2008 European Satellite Navigation Competition. They had developed a large prototype device, which they aimed to miniaturise in order to better integrate it with diving equipment. The system enables the dive boat to continuously track divers as they surface so they can be quickly and efficiently retrieved. Divers can also activate an alert if they are in difficulty. This alarm can be detected by any compatible system in range, maximising survival chances for the casualty. The device is also synchronised with existing maritime navigation systems, making it easy to use. The challenge Sci-Tech (POB) faced was getting the signal to work over long range without interference – a vital requirement for a technology that could be the difference between life and death for the user.

The solution

Becoming part of the ESA BIC Harwell allowed Sci-Tech (POB) to gain access to technical support from the STFC, which manages the centre on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA). The company worked with experts from STFC’s RAL Space, who identified interference from the surface of the water as the main factor causing the disruption. This allowed Sci-Tech (POB) to combat the problem by deploying the device on specialised diving equipment, allowing it sufficient height above the water to minimise any potential interference. This enables the location of the diver to be pinpointed successfully over greater distances.

The benefits

By utilising the expertise and facilities available to them as part of the business incubation package from ESA BIC Harwell, Sci-Tech (POB) reduced research and development time and brought their product closer to market at a reduced experimental cost. Through the ESA BIC Harwell, the company has also benefited from business and marketing support (via the GrowthAccelerator scheme), which will be used to attract further funding. Being part of the ESA BIC also allowed the start-up to create invaluable new contacts and continue refining their product.

About us

The ESA Business Incubation Centre Harwell (ESA BIC Harwell) provides entrepreneurs and start-ups with access to funding, technical expertise and business support to transform space technologies and systems into vibrant non-space businesses.

Part of ESA’s thriving Europe-wide network of Business Incubation Centres, ESA BIC Harwell is managed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and draws on both organisations’ outstanding track record in business incubation – providing a unique environment perfectly engineered to accelerate innovation and unlock commercial potential. Each year we support up to 10 start- ups working in sectors including healthcare, energy, agriculture, digital technology and defence.

Tel: +44 (0)1235 446 075

Email: enquiries@esa-bic.org.uk

Twitter: @stfc_b2b #esabicharwell

www.esa-bic.org.uk

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Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000