GKN Aerospace is back for our third cohort

The world-leading aerospace supplier will act as an industrial-sounding board for AI and Autonomous startups joining Aerospace Xelerated next year.

Nichola Bates
Aerospace Xelerated


We’re weeks away from sharing the ten startups that are joining our next programme in January 2022. We’ll be welcoming startups that advance the way aircraft are built from the factory floor, all the way to the passenger journey.

Today, I’m delighted to welcome back the GKN Aerospace team who will provide them with their exceptional industry insight and expertise.

A recent success from our partnership

Last week, our Cohort Two member HiiROC shared incredible news: having raised a £26M funding round. The investment will be used to expand the deployment of pilot units of its technology, producing affordable hydrogen at scale but without CO2 emissions. Among its new investors is Melrose Industries, the owners of GKN Aerospace, who met the founding team during the 2021 cohort of the programme.

I caught up with HiiROC’s Operations Director Rich Scott, on what’s happened since being selected for our second programme.

He said:

“HiiROC met GKN Aerospace on the Aerospace Xelerated programme in 2021, they were a key commercial partner in the programme and had extensive knowledge and experience with many of the technical challenges we were overcoming at HiiROC.

“We had several high-level meetings with the senior team and were then introduced to members of the GKN Aerospace team that had the right experience to help us with some of the challenges we had as a startup.

“After the accelerator programme finished we kept in close contact with GKN Aerospace, and an introduction to their parent company Melrose Industries led to us progressing our discussions around equity investment. For Melrose, becoming a shareholder and investor in a company is not their usual modus operandi but they saw the strategic fit between our zero-emission hydrogen technology and the industrial facilities they had — especially GKN Aerospace’s Global Technology Centre in Bristol. GKN Aerospace and Melrose finalised their investment in our fundraise in Q3 2021, and we are working very closely with the team at GKN Aerospace and Melrose to enable us to showcase our hydrogen production technology at scale in the UK and internationally.”

Long-term relationships

Rich added:

“For HiiROC, the accelerator programme has been the enabler to having great working relationships with all of the strategic partners on the programme, we are working with GKN Aerospace, Rolls-Royce and Boeing extensively.

“The commercial relationship we have created with Boeing has been hugely beneficial to us. Similarly with GKN Aerospace, after their investment into HiiROC we are developing a pilot, then rollout opportunity with them, helping support their progress into the usage of hydrogen in the aerospace and mobility sectors, but with modular and flexible hydrogen production from our HiiROC units.”

HiiROC is a great example of how working with industry in the programme can make a significant impact on the future of the participant startups.

Speaking on re-joining Aerospace Xelerated for our third year, Susan Schofield, VP Strategy Civil Airframe of GKN Aerospace, commented:

“It is great that GKN Aerospace has signed up to Aerospace Xelerated for the third year. Our role is to be a supporting industrial sounding board for the startups. We believe that the diversity that is coming through from the startups brings different thinking and innovation, which we can build upon.”

In addition to GKN Aerospace, startups will have access to experts from the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) and Boeing. With HiiROC’s recent news, it means our two previous cohorts have gone on to raise over £50M in additional funding and create more than 100 jobs across the UK.

I can’t wait to see what happens when we welcome our new batch of startups and the programme takes off for 2022!

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Nichola Bates
Aerospace Xelerated

Head of Global Accelerators and Innovation Programs at Boeing and Managing Partner at Aerospace Xelerated | http://xelerated.aero