Westcott Business Incubation Centre

LIFT ME OFF Case Study

Opening future In-Orbit Servicing global markets for Propulsion and AI Solutions

Route to Impact

LIFT ME OFF Image 1LIFT ME OFF, one of the first Westcott Business Incubation Centre (BIC) starts-ups, initially focussed on building propulsion systems to launch small satellite constellations.  However, a business sprint at the Catapult highlighted saturation of this global market and an opportunity to offer technologies and services for space transportation, refuelling, recovery and in-orbit manufacturing by combining Propulsion, Robotics and AI.

A design sprint followed, helping create a vision that will steer the business for the long-term.  This ten-year strategy empowers LIFT ME OFF to evaluate potential opportunities to make clear business decisions and to secure additional Venture Capitalist investment.

Impact

In-Orbit Applications

Enabling satellite debris removal, refuelling and manufacture in space opening new global markets currently worth $350 billion, with the potential to grow into £1 trillion by 2040.

Business Growth

Growth for the company has been >44% in 2019.

Employment

LIFT ME OFF have hired two new staff plus a CTO with 17 high value positions forecast by 2021.

The Solution

LIFT ME OFF Image 2

LIFT ME OFF used their time at the Westcott BIC to network with the UK’s rocket propulsion community.  Introductions have resulted in four collaborative partnership contracts, which have seen the company’s annual turnover rise by >44% to date!  In each instance, the partnership will provide commercially oriented new satellite technologies compliant with CubeSat standards.

LIFT ME OFF is a winner of the Open Cosmos ‘Call to Orbit’ competition, run in collaboration with ESA, which will enable them to design novel propulsion systems for Cubesats.  The goal is to improve the performance whilst dramatically reducing the cost, time, and complexity of turnkey bolt-on propulsion solutions.  Open Cosmos and ESA are active members of the Harwell Space Cluster. This has created the opportunity for LIFT ME OFF to work in partnership on joint bids for value-added In-space transportation services.

LIFT ME OFF has identified a technology gap in servicing missions to address the needs for proximity operations.  A specific propulsion solution with additional robotics and vision capabilities offers a huge commercial opportunity, as 60+ years of space exploration has led to clean the skies of 1200+ extinct satellites.

LIFT ME OFF Image 3Partnerships with heritage propulsion companies will provide facilities to build and scale LIFT ME OFF’s chemical propulsion systems for commercial customers. The company will be able to move small satellites from the orbit the launcher delivers them into, to orbits further afield enabling future space mission concepts and ensuring that satellites have an active component to de-orbit them at the end of life.

LMO provides the opportunity to partner in the ‘new privatisation of space race’ to refuel satellites in-orbit. Typically, a satellite orbiting Earth has a technology with lifespan of around 10 years.  When they run out of fuel, the mission usually ends.  But there are now bold plans in the industry to launch satellites refuelling missions as soon as next year and LMO seeks to become a key player in this market.  By using LMO technology to extend satellite lifespans or returning them to earth, it is possible to make space a more affordable, cleaner and sustainable place.

Outcomes

  • Progression towards commercialisation of dedicated technologies for in-orbit services.
  • Reaching new orbits that will open-up the full potential of space.
  • Innovative technologies to ensure the future sustainable use of Space.
  • Improved technical knowledge and cross pollination of skills amongst the team.
  • New incubatee at the ESA BIC.

Outputs

4 Collaborative R&D Partnerships

Developing new propulsion, robotic and AI technologies for in-orbit servicing.

The Future

LIFT ME OFF Image 4LIFT ME OFF have won a place on a 3-month acceleration program to access the SPACE Economy Astropreneurs network and access business and technical mentorship, plus support to fund their business ideas.  A two-year contract with ESA’s Business Incubation Centre will provide them with fully equipped office space and a unique collaborative network of science and innovation businesses on campus.

LIFT ME OFF are recruiting a fourth member of staff and plan on returning to the Westcott site, to take up clean room facilities in our Innovation Centre when it is opened in summer 2020.

We were one of the first members at the Westcott BIC. The business support and design thinking workshops enabled us to go from a bunch of ideas to a solid business plan. Access to small grants enabled us to test the market. The openness and kindness of the staff provided a great work atmosphere.

Michel Poucet
LIFT ME OFF Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Partners