Clutch Space Systems Ltd, based at Surrey Technology Centre on Surrey Research Park, was established in 2018, with founder Martin Philp choosing to launch and develop the business from SETsquared Surrey, the Research Park’s business incubator.
The organisation, which has developed software to remove the cost and complexity from satellite communications, has grown significantly over the last two years and is currently planning to move to its own separate office within Surrey Technology Centre.
Martin Philp, CEO, Clutch Space Systems comments, “SETsquared Surrey is the global number one university business incubator – and it has been a marvelous and highly professional place for us to get the best possible start. Our mentors walked us through every stage of the business – from launch through to advice on how to prepare for investor pitches. We met like-minded people at the incubator who were facing similar challenges to us and were given ongoing advice and expert contacts for a wide range of support functions, from PR and HR through to law and finance. We attended workshops and received training through every step of the business process – and all of this was included with the incubator membership fee. Basing ourselves at SETsquared Surrey has proved to be an extremely prudent decision.”
Why location matters
“Being able to meet people from across our industry for coffee or lunch at Surrey Technology Centre’s on-site café, The Hub has been invaluable in enabling us to develop a network of high-calibre industry contacts. As some of the leading and most respected firms in our industry, such as SSTL and BAE Systems are based at Surrey Research Park, we have regularly been able to meet senior decision makers from some of the largest organisations within the space sector at The Hub. Meeting busy executives like these is much easier to organise if they are already visiting one of the other established organisations within our sector at Surrey Research Park. We have also been able to forge strong relationships with other firms in the space sector based at Surrey Research Park – again, seeing them regularly at The Hub.
“The second key benefit of Surrey Research Park’s location has been its close connections with the University of Surrey. From the outset, our contacts at SETsquared introduced us to academics from The Surrey Space Centre at the University so that they understood our value proposition and where there may be future opportunities to collaborate. We are currently in discussion with the University’s 5G team, cyber security team and space team about how to leverage their academic knowledge to commercialise a new Clutch Space offering,” explains Martin.
A Growing Team
As Clutch Space evolved and needed to recruit new people into the business, both SETsquared Surrey and the University of Surrey were able to identify appropriate candidates from within their networks.
Martin continues, “The connections we have made through Surrey Research Park and the University of Surrey have been instrumental in helping us to recruit the right people into our business. We were seeking a lead for our sales and marketing effort at the start of lockdown, and through referrals from those connections we were able to appoint a Business Development Manager, Ricky D’Costa who has a multidisciplinary background in Satellite Physics and Entrepreneurship. He graduated with a Masters in Physics (MPhys) with Satellite Technology and MSc Entrepreneurship from the University of Surrey.
“Ricky’s experience has enabled him to have in-depth technical sales and engineering conversations with potential customers and internal engineers and in a short time he has made a significant difference to the business and developed a very healthy new business pipeline.”
What does the future hold?
Martin concludes, “With new team members on board and a surge of interest from potential new clients, we are feeling very optimistic about our future growth. To date, we have concentrated on exports, from China through to Canada. We are now focusing on the UK market and also talking to Japanese and US-based businesses.
“It’s an exciting time for us – we are ready to leave the incubator and have our own ‘front door’ within Surrey Technology Centre. We are planning to develop new products and have identified a wide range of new opportunities – we just need to decide which ones to go for!”
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