50th space tech start-up to transform breast screening

FROM space cots to bed bugs, to bicycle bell satnavs and sustainable farm food – whatever the sector, the European Space Agency’s Business Incubation Centre in Harwell has supported them all.

It is now celebrating as its 50th UK space tech start-up ‘graduates’ from the centre, ready to take off as a successful, viable business – as it sets out to overhaul breast screening in the UK.

The impressive survival rate is 93 per cent for companies that have been incubated at the ESA BIC Harwell since it opened in 2011, all of which are using space and satellite technology to develop ‘the next big thing’.

To date, 61 companies have joined the centre, with 50 graduating so far.

The 50th company to graduate from the ESA BIC Harwell is DEOS Consultancy, which is gearing up to overhaul mobile breast screening in the UK.

For the last 25 years, mobile breast screening vans have operated in isolation from hospitals, with digital images and confidential personal data physically transported from van to hospital by courier, taxi and even radiographers themselves.

The target turnaround time between screening and the result is 14 days.

DEOS Consultancy has been using satellite technology at the ESA BIC Harwell to develop its prototype for a completely integrated screening solution for smarter, faster and more cost-efficient mobile breast screening service.

DEOS can transmit images directly from the van to hospital in three minutes, make appointments live on the van and synchronise with hospitals, giving realtime visibility of status.

Viv Barrett, CEO at DEOS Consultancy, said: “By applying satellite connectivity to mobile medical units we have the real potential to radically overhaul mobile breast screening in the UK.

“We can achieve faster communication of results, along with more efficient staff deployment and logistical savings.

“Our focus has been on developing the prototype for our technology that could be implemented into all mobile breast screening vans.

“Being at the ESA BIC Harwell put us in the perfect position to access the specialist technology and expertise we needed to complete our prototype and network with the right audiences and markets.

“This has been a critical phase in the development of our business.”

Sue O’Hare, operations manager at the ESA BIC Harwell, said: “For any start-up, coming up with a great idea is just the first step in the innovation process.

“Turning an idea into a viable commercial offering is a huge challenge and the ESA BIC Harwell provides the environment and support to do this. I’m thrilled to be celebrating this major milestone with DEOS Consultancy, whose technology could be life changing for so many. ”

Located within the well-established space cluster at the Harwell Campus, the ESA BIC Harwell sits alongside STFC’s RAL Space, the Satellite Applications Catapult and the brand new National Satellite Test Facility.

It is also one of a wider European network of 16 successful ESA BICs, and part of ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme, which provides 10 companies a year with support.