The sky is the limit for Tom

20 October 2017
Tom Walkinshaw

A Glasgow Caledonian University graduate whose business designs low-cost satellites has been named in the Forbes Europe 30 under 30 for 2017.

Tom Walkinshaw, Founder and CEO of AlbaOrbital, spent four years at GCU and achieved a BA (Hons) in Business Studies in 2011.

Remarking on his selection for the Tech category of the Forbes list, Tom said: “It was a bit of a surprise and I am not too sure how it came about, but it is a real honour to be included in such a prestigious list.”

AlbaOrbital designs and builds PocketQubes, which are very small satellites that weigh less than 1kg. The start-up company has just marked its fifth anniversary and Tom is proud of the progression made in that time.

He said: “We have grown a lot. It was just me initially me in my bedroom. Now we are 10 people, and still hiring, in our second office. I'm hopeful we will be up to 14 people in the New Year.

"Startups have a high mortality rate, so to still be in business and have the support of the European Space Agency, Innovate UK and others is a great boost.”

AlbaOrbital’s work has recently been the subject of a feature in technology and science magazine WIRED and mentioned in the FT and Tom is happy to see his work gain media attention.

He said: “We have been in WIRED a few times now, with the recent piece having a really nice cinematic video capturing what we do at Alba. Press waves tend to lead to greater exposure, and it allows us to get new business on the back of it."

During its expansion, AlbaOrbital has linked up with GCU’s cg animation/vfx department.

Recent graduate in BSc (Hons) 3D Animation & Visualisation Isaac Pringle was hired to create the computer-generated imagery on the satellite design project. His work is featured on the company’s website and in the WIRED video.

As for the future, Tom is focusing on finishing the design of his second satellite and trying to secure a first commercial platform sale.