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ExIST Interviews Conrad Gillespie, SWCoESA Centre Manager

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Read more about the SWCoESA in the ExIST Insight Magazine…. Issuu Flipbook 


What is your role?

I manage the South West Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications (SWCoESA), which is part of a national network established by the Satellite Applications Catapult and the  UK Space Agency.

We provide a gateway to the national space sector by supporting innovators to develop and commercialise space technologies and satellite applications (including earth observation, communications and navigation).

The Centre is led by University of Exeter and works in partnership with the University of Plymouth and Falmouth University, and our coverage includes Cornwall, Devon and Somerset.


How would you describe your organisation and its work?

The Centre is a focal point for satellite data, technology and application activities, linking science and research with industry and public sector organisations.

We provide support to start-ups and SMEs to build on and commercialise their ideas making connections with the whole Space ecosystem.


What are your organisation’s priorities?

Our vision is to sustainably improve social, health, environmental and economic outcomes through inspiring innovation, supported by satellite technology, creating partnerships and opportunities, starting locally and reaching globally.


How does your organisation contribute to this sector on a regional / national / global basis?

We are part of the regional space cluster supporting the development of a space ecosystem for the South West, collaborating with regional businesses, universities and connected to the Satellite Applications Catapult, UK Space Agency and ESA Business Applications team.


What do you want to achieve in your role in the next 12 months?

To create a melting pot of innovation by:

  • Promoting the value of space technologies and how they support climate emergency responses, change lives, business operations, policy and behaviours.
  • Building on the regional environmental science and digital innovation strengths with access to R&D, innovation and skills expertise through our University partners.
  • Growing the South West Space ecosystem and beneficiaries.


How do you want to work with / how can you engage / how can you help SMEs in Exeter and the region?

We connect people with key stakeholders, support SMEs with our team of thematic leads, offer business incubation and funding applications, and constantly scan the horizon for new opportunities.


What do you wish other people knew about your work?

Space isn’t just ‘out there’. It’s a valuable resource that can benefit many sectors.


Why and how would you encourage young people to consider STEMM careers?

The ‘New Space’ sector is an exciting place to be with innovators developing cutting-edge technologies and applications for environmental, economic and societal impact. I encourage STEM ambassadors to explore the growing opportunities for wide-ranging ‘Upstream’ and ‘Downstream’ career paths, including data scientists, digital designers, engineers, environmentalists, manufacturers, science researchers and software developers, to name a few!


How did you get into your role / sector / specialism?

As an Engineer with over twenty years of management experience in diverse innovative and research sectors, including data science, emerging technologies and geospatial intelligence, I found the Space sector awe-inspiring so I definitely wanted to get involved!


Why did you want to engage with the ExIST network?

ExIST is an impactful STEMM business community network, and I wanted to host an ExIST ‘Space’ event and help produce an ExIST Insight ‘Space Applications & Opportunities’ digital magazine, in order to:

  • Raise awareness of how the Space sector can provide valuable research and commercial opportunities for a whole range of regional industries and sectors.
  • Highlight collaborative funding opportunities on offer to innovative businesses.

The ExIST Insight ‘Space Applications & Opportunities’ digital magazine can be accessed here:

Issuu Flipbook 

ExIST Website Version






Sharon Addinall
ehealth Business Engagement Officer
Sharon has worked within the health sector undertaking administration and management for the majority of her career and prior to joining the Centre, she ran her own business as an Editor for a local magazine.
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