What does your company do?
“ESL group is actually a collection of entities – nine different entities – going back over 30 years. The entity based here at Spaceport is ESL Space Defence Solutions which is primarily focused on solutions for defence, security and maritime.”
What drew you to the industry?
“I actually started out 40 years ago at Marconi Space and Defence Systems in Frimley working on the Royal Naval division. I always wanted to end up back in the defence industry with my business, so here we are.”
Where are you based at Spaceport Cornwall and what attracted you to the site?
“Moving to the South West, originally we were attracted to the Aerohub and strategically we wanted to be here. There is great potential here for developing a centre of excellence and ESL group is actually an international business. We have offices in Poland, Singapore, the US, and I want to end up building something here that will act as our global HQ and a centre of excellence for our technology.”
How do you think this space will impact your growth?
“There is a resource deficit so finding skills resources is a challenge, however we want to create an academy setup so we can bring on school, college, and university leavers, as well as people who would like to retrain. I think there is a tremendous potential working with the council and other agencies here, and also potentially working with other businesses.”
How do you think these facilities will benefit Cornwall’s Space and STEM cluster?
“I think the site is ideal, being close to Newquay itself as a potential source of resources. The airfield is obviously a huge asset as well. There are also elements such as Goonhilly Earth Station close by. There are a lot of things here that can be joined up and leveraged by ourselves and other businesses. I am looking forward to working with those organisations.”
Are you looking to collaborate with any of the other businesses at Spaceport Cornwall?
“Yeah, absolutely, that’s one of our goals. We have already met with a few of the companies that are based here and there is certainly room for collaboration, which is great.”
What do the next 12 months look like for your company?
“This next twelve months could be quite defining. We have been around for 30 years, but we were slowed down dramatically by the COVID pandemic. It has taken a little while to regain some of the ground and momentum, but a few things are starting to click into place which has enabled us to accelerate our growth. I think the next 12 months is actually going to be quite defining for us in terms of what we are going to be able to achieve and how quickly.”
What tips would you give for aspiring entrepreneurs in the space industry?
“I wouldn’t discourage anyone from doing it, but I would say that you need to do it with your eyes open. Having been doing this now for 30 years, it is very much a rollercoaster ride and you have to be in it for the long haul. It is very much a marathon and not a sprint, and there is a lot of personal sacrifice that you have to be willing to go through. You need to take a good long look in the mirror and say “are you able to guts this out”. If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t try it, if the answer is yes, then by all means give it a good go. I think you will be successful.”
And finally, what do you think of the building and facilities here at Spaceport Cornwall?
“I think it’s great. It’s obviously a brand new facility. It’s well connected. We have high-speed internet and good access to the meeting rooms. Very flexible. We are looking forward to making full use of this facility.”