Aerospace engineers STAR-Dundee transition to employee ownership and join the EOA

STAR-Dundee, a world leading provider of spacecraft on-board data handling network technology for the aerospace industry, has joined the EOA as it celebrates completing its transition to employee ownership.

The business, which employs 25 people and has offices in both Dundee and Barcelona, has created technology that is now being used across the world on more than 100 spacecraft which are monitoring the Earth, exploring nearby planets and asteroids, mapping out and sensing the far flung parts of the galaxy.

STAR-Dundee was established 15 years ago primarily because several organisations wanted to use technology developed by the University of Dundee. The team has grown from an academic and a few enthusiastic research students, who initially worked in their spare time to design and develop the first products to the 25 people it employs today.

Its ‘SpaceWire’ network technology interconnects sensors and electronic equipment onboard a spacecraft, providing an efficient and versatile means of integrating the equipment together. This is similar to the way in which USB connects peripheral devices to a laptop.

To secure the long-term future for the company, STAR-Dundee was transformed from a company run and majority owned by the founding academic, Professor Steve Parkes, to an employee owned company. Facilitated by a succession planning project initiative by Scottish Enterprise, various options were considered for the company and it soon became clear that employee ownership was the way forward for a company like STAR-Dundee.

Professor Parkes said: “Having formed STAR-Dundee and forged it over 15 years it into a company with a worldwide reputation, I realised that I was not going to be around to see it through the next 15 years. It became clear that the future for the company was about the people in the company that had helped make it a success and the culture that we had developed to support that success. Selling the company to another organisation, which would inevitably change the culture and might even move it from its Dundee base, was not a very attractive idea. Employee ownership retains and strengthens the culture and will ensure that it always has a base in Dundee.”

Stuart Mills, STAR-Dundee’s new CEO, said: “STAR-Dundee has been a great success because of its people. Our move to employee ownership allows these individuals to have a greater say in the running of the company and to further benefit from the company’s success.”

Sarah Deas, Director at Co-operative Development Scotland, the arm of Scottish Enterprise that supports company growth through collaborative and employee ownership business models, added: “STAR-Dundee’s main priorities when considering its succession options were to secure and strengthen the business, both in terms of its culture and success, and also to ensure the business remains rooted in Dundee. All of these objectives have been achieved through employee ownership as well as making sure the staff all have a meaningful stake in their company and its future success.”

Deb Oxley CEO of the EOA said: “We welcome Star-Dundee to the EOA and congratulate them on their recent transition.

“The move to employee ownership will help sustain the business in its current location, to retain and attract the right talent and secure its values and reputation with customers long after the businesses founder has moved on from the business.

“We’re pleased that STAR-Dundee has joined us to add to the people-focussed and innovative businesses that make up our membership.”