Investment panel to fund SME aerospace projects

Farnborough Aerospace Consortium (FAC) hosted a Dragons Den-style investment event for businesses in the sector.

The National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP) gives funds to companies to help them bring products to market. Its Project Review Panel was assembled at FAC’s headquarters to hear pitches from small and medium-sized businesses.

The scheme is funded by The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) via the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI). A £685m investment in aerospace announced recently by BEIS means more grants will be available.

The latest round saw NATEP’s panel hear presentations from half a dozen companies.

Alan Fisher, chief executive officer of FAC, said: “For our country to stay ahead in aerospace we need to encourage investment and innovation, and that’s what NATEP does.

“For a number of years along with ADS – the national trade body - we have been recommending projects to NATEP, which convenes regular panels to judge the merits of companies’ products.

“Experts in various fields within aerospace come together to listen and to ask questions of those seeking funds.

“Over the years there have been some remarkable success stories, from development of aircraft landing gear connector harnesses to ways of distributing electricity in aeroplanes.

“We have seen the development of advanced aluminium powder as well as a replacement for chrome.

“Some of this technology has been adapted from other industries or spun-out from university research.

“The panel meets regularly through the year and those who have recently presented will learn in a few months whether they have secured funding.

“Getting funding is just the first step, but arguable the most important.

“One of our jobs at FAC is to link the small and medium-sized businesses with the big national and multi-national companies.

“A consistent stream of technological advancements makes this easier and turns the eyes of the big players towards the smaller firms.

“This in turn keeps our sector moving forward and helps us retain our place as world-leaders in aerospace.”

Harriet Wollerton, programme director for NATEP, added: “NATEP is an ATI programme that is focused on supporting SMEs from initial concept, through to project close and beyond.

“The industry panels are critical to the programme and the combination of industry engagement, mentoring and funding has led to many successful projects.

“We look forward to supporting more businesses to develop aerospace technology projects in the UK to strengthen the UK aerospace supply chain and deliver sustainable aerospace.”

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