Boeing, the Chicago based aerospace giant has invested in a UK based startup which has developed a technology which promises to radically transform the manufacture of satellite antennas by controlling the direction of radio frequency waves. The investment which came from the investment arm of Boeing called Boeing HorizonX Venture will be used to bring the technology of Isotropic Systems to the market.
The $14 million investment will be the second in line of investment in a British space company by Boeing Ventures in less than a year’s time. The investment comes in the wake of the ongoing storm of Brexit that surrounds the UK industry.
Isotropic Systems which prides at being the next generation satellite terminal provider has used the transformational optical technology for producing a fully electronic low cost tracking terminal. The company uses transformational optics used for bending light and has adopted it to radio waves. The technology bends radio waves through optical devices for making satellite antennas with no mobile parts as well as cheaper manufacturing process than the existing antennas.
With the advent of non-geostationary and high-throughput satellite systems, the satellite industry is undergoing a major shift. The new systems will demand better ground infrastructure which will need satellite antennas to be of greater capacity. The company’s chief executive John Finney believes that Isotropic’s technology will be instrumental in wide scale adoption of satellite communication, for example its application in maritime industry will enable access to low cost broadband to smaller fishing vessels beyond just superyachts.
Boeing HorizonX Venture director Brian Schettler believes that Isotropic’s solution increases existing capabilities of satellite antennas to many fold at reduced costs. The unit in April 2018 invested in British aerospace manufacturer Reaction Engines Ltd based in Oxfordshire, England. Others investors participating in the Series A round of funding include two venture funds Space Angel and Space Capital along with a private individual who prefers to be unidentified.
Isotropic formed in 2014 with the backing of grant funding form InnovateUK, UK’s Innovation fund and UK Space Agency. Mr. Finney believes the previous funding was instrumental in nurturing IP in last four years. He is optimistic about the future of UK’s space industry amidst the Brexit uncertainties.
The fear that UK won’t be able to guide the development of the pan- European 10 billion euro Galileo Satellite navigation program’s military aspects post Brexit had urged UK to threaten withdrawal from the project in November 2018. This leaves the future of several UK companies hanging who are closely involved in the Galileo Project. Talks on Galileo and Copernicus projects are still underway which are important for UK’s ambition of generating 40 billion euros through space sector alone by 2030.
Mr. Finney also expressed that it sees Isotropic’s future mainly in UK owing to the support offered by UK Space Agency and that it may shift the engineering resources from US to UK in near future.