Made in Aylesbury Vale: Five innovative businesses which put us on global map

Above: Formosat 7 which Com Dev has provided crucial parts for
Below, in descending order: GRASP robot at Aylesbury; Walking With Dinosaurs model made by Crawley Creatures; Lund Halsey's air traffic control room furniture

Above: Formosat 7 which Com Dev has provided crucial parts for Below, in descending order: GRASP robot at Aylesbury; Walking With Dinosaurs model made by Crawley Creatures; Lund Halsey's air traffic control room furniture

These businesses might not be household names, but they’re responsible for some amazing high-tech products which have a truly international reach...

Com Dev:

Com Dev’s high-tech products really are out of this world. The firm makes crucial parts for satellites and has been at the forefront ofaround 90 space missions. It recently won a multi-million pound contract to provide the ‘telemetry, tracking and command transponder’ equipment to Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd for the first six spacecraft in the FORMOSAT-7 global weather forecasting programme (satellite pictured above, courtesy of SST). Transponders are the vital communications link between the spacecraft and ground stations and are therefore critical to the day-to-day operation and success of any mission. Com Dev, which is based in the Triangle Business Park in Wendover, has also developed technology to detect the location of 75,000 ships from outer space. As well as spotting unusual activity, which could indicate ships have been taken over by modern-day pirates, the software can be used to help hunt down vessels causing environmental damage.

Aylesbury Automation:

Aylesbury Automation designs and makes the machinery which factories around the world use to manufacture their products. Its technology can perform a range of operations, including sorting, packing and assembling. Innovations include GRASP (Guided Robot for Automatically Sorting Parts, pictured above), which can pick up randomly placed objects using a vision guided robot system, eliminating the need for additional machinery or equipment. The firm is based in Farmbrough Close, Aylesbury.

Crawley Creatures:

Animatronics firm Crawley Creatures is responsible for bringing alive prehistoric giants in hit BBC documentary Walking With Dinosaurs, while its amazing moving models have also appeared in American Werewolf in Paris, Primeval, The Flintstones and in various museums around the world. The business, which moved from Aylesbury to Buckingham in 2009, also has a subsidary, i-bodi, which provides life-like prototypes for research and development in the defence industry. One such robotic model, New Porton Man, will be used to test chemical and biological protective suits and equipment for the UK military.

Serious Brands:

Serious Brands produces bespoke, world-leading lights which have been used in some pretty amazing places.

They crop up in all manner of vehicles such as spacecraft, submarines, tanks, lifeboats and the Virgin Global Ballooning capsule, manned by Sir Richard Branson.

They are also used by hospital surgeons, staff in air traffic control towers and factory workers to sew the delicate leather on to Bentley steering wheels.

Art galleriessuch as Van Gogh museum, Guggenheim and Musee D’Orsay use Serious Brands’ lights to illuminate their masterpieces. They can even be found in Hollywood. They have appeared in three Bond films (Q branch swears by them!), Die Hard and Bourne Identity.

The firm, which is run by the chairman of Bucks Business First, Alex Pratt, from its base in Bierton, exports to more than 60 countries.Most recent export orders have been for 300 lights for an oil rig supply ship and 150 lights for a control room in the USA.

The firm recently recieved the FEEFO Global Golden Customer Service Award, one of a handful of companies with a 99% plus record

Lund Halsey:

Lund Halsey’s products can be found in nerve centres around the world, including air traffic control rooms, surveilance centres , oil refineries, government offices and TV newsrooms. Put simply, it designs and makes the furniture on which all the high-tech equipment – computers, screens, radars – are placed. The firm, based in Gatehouse Close, Aylesbury, has been so successful abroad that it was awarded the genuinely prestigious Queens Award for international trade in 2011 . Tapping into the global market – and in particular the booming Middle Eastern economy – has helped the firm grow during the recession, a huge achievement.




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