A TECHNOLOGY firm is launching a project to develop components for the next generation of telecommunications satellites after receiving a grant of €400,000.

Based at the North East Technology Park (NETPark) in Sedgefield, aXenic specialises in the design, development and production of optical modulators for satellite and aerospace communications.

The three-year grant from the European Horizon 2020 programme will be used to launch the SIPhoDiAS research and development project.

It brings together some of the biggest names in the space industry and aims to deliver faster and more affordable communications.

As satellites become more of a feature in the provision of telecommunications, their innovation will have an important part to play.

The firm said that by developing components to reduce the size and weight of devices within space systems while increasing their power and speed, the build, launch and operational costs will be reduced.

Since moving into the space sector in 2015, aXenic has been supported by Business Durham through the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence, which has provided advice, networking and opportunities to attend events.

The company took part in the UK Space Agency Incubator Programme, which the centre also facilitated.

Business Durham has led the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence since April 2014, engaging with more than 670 organisations, establishing links between 277 business and universities, and helping companies secure £9.2m worth of funding.

Steve Clements, chief executive at aXenic, said: “We are pleased once again to engage in leading edge space technology working with satellite builders, this time with Thales Alenia Space, as well as with the supply chain to help make the next generation of satellite communications a reality. This can make a real difference to delivering a whole range of new global services from space, including the highest quality internet.”

Sarah Slaven, interim managing director of Business Durham, said: "We're delighted to see aXenic launch this very exciting project with some of world’s leading space companies.

“The space sector in the North-East has been growing over recent years. We look forward to supporting and attracting more innovations and companies such as this.”