Teen app designer’s ‘space dragons’ talk

James Pearson with the space dragons. Pictures Stuart Harrison Photography.
James Pearson with the space dragons. Pictures Stuart Harrison Photography.

A teenager who won £10,000 after designing an app linking satellite data to everyday life has put his idea to a group of space dragons.

James Pearson, 13, from Boston, met the entrepeneurs as part of his prize for designing an app which looks at changes in the coastal environment after spotting the ‘SatelLife Challenge’ on the UK Space Agency Facebook page.

He was one of 11 young people to put their concepts to the panel at the Satellite Applications Catapult at the Harwell Campus, Didcot.

They were offered a mix of support, including an offer to build a prototype, thousands of pounds worth of space on Amazon Cloud Services, access to data, business development advice and a visit to a satellite factory.

James told The Standard: “I had a fantastic time, it was an absolutely brilliant experience.

“They [the dragons] gave me great feedback on how to develop the app and I also got some offers of help.”

James will now return to tinkering with the app before moving on to the next stage.

The competition saw James beat university students to win £10,000. He was also invited to the UK Space Conference where he met astronaut Tim Peak and spoke in front of the conference.

He was inspired to look at what satellites could do for coastal change after seeing how recent flooding had affected some family friends.

It would also ‘geo-tag’ wildlife to track sightings, view trends in weather and climate and date and monitor sea levels.

One of the dragons, Emily Gravestock, Head of Applications Strategy at the UK Space Agency, said: “This competition has proved it doesn’t matter how old you are or what your back ground is.

“If you’ve got a great idea and you’re prepared to work hard you can make it in the space sector.

“Our space industry Dragons were blown away by the variety and high standard of the ideas and have offered some amazing opportunities to our winners.

“I’m excited to see where these ideas will go in the future.”

Sitting on the panel of judges was Stuart Martin, CEO of the Satellite Applications Catapult, Adina Gillespie, Head of Applications at Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, Nick Appleyard, Head of Applications at the European Space Agency, Brendan Bouffler, Manager AWS Research Cloud Program, at Amazon Web Services, Kumar Pancholi, Business Development Manager at Sterling Geo and Karen Roche, Business Development Director of data company KX.