Glasgow firm with eye on space to represent Scotland as start-up 'ambassador'
Metahelios is among 12 businesses selected as “leading and inspiring examples” of small firms supported by the Start Up Loans scheme, which is part of the British Business Bank. The programme has delivered more than £63 million of loans to 6,900 Scottish start-ups, at an average value of £9,211.
Two such recipients of these loans are physicists Charles Altuzarra and Yash Shah, founders of Metahelios, who each received a £25,000 loan in July 2022 to kickstart their business. The entrepreneurs have created a long-distance camera, described as being a first-of-its-kind design, that can manipulate light to distinguish between a range of materials from a still image. They are aiming to deploy the technology into space on a rocket from one of the UK’s spaceport sites, capturing data via a satellite that can be used to monitor climate change and orbiting space debris. It’s a market that could be worth some £4.5 billion by 2030, according to recent estimates.
Altuzarra said: “We’re making significant progress in taking our cameras to the next stage and proving the capabilities of our technology - and we’re currently in the process of raising equity funding. The advice we’ve received from some of the industry’s biggest names has been nothing short of inspiring, and we’ve got ambitious plans to be at the forefront of the UK’s space race.
“The loans Yash and I received were instrumental, as they allowed us to invest in manufacturing and testing prototypes. We wouldn’t be where we are today without the initial support we received through the Start Up Loans programme.”
The Ambassadors programme, now in its eighth year, celebrates exceptional business owners who have launched an enterprise using funding from the UK government-backed scheme. Drawn from each of the UK’s nations and regions, the 2023/24 ambassadors are said to reflect the “broad diversity” of sectors and business owners supported via the programme. Metahelios and the others selected will be introduced at a launch event in central London that kick-starts a year-long programme that will see the ambassadors take part in a series of local and national activities, with the aim of encouraging more people to set up their own businesses.
Susan Nightingale, devolved nations director, UK network at the British Business Bank, said: “Scotland’s aerospace scene is booming, and it’s brilliant to see forward-thinking start-ups like Metahelios bringing cutting-edge technology to the market. I’m thrilled to welcome Charles and Yash and congratulate them on their roles as Ambassadors, and I look forward to working with them over the coming year to inspire others thinking of embarking on their own entrepreneurial journey.”
Since its inception in 2012, the Start Up Loans programme has delivered more than 105,000 loans to business owners across the UK, amounting to more than £1 billion of funding.
Lord Malcolm Offord, UK government minister for Scotland and exports, added: “It’s great to see pioneers such as Charles and Yash being appointed as Ambassadors for Scotland.”
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