Layton Bennett. Superdrone
‘With BIG investment I feel like our business can expand out of the traditional photography sector. It’s time to be innovative and exciting, this really is just the start for us.’ Layton Bennett from Superdrone
5 minutes with Layton Bennett...
Chatting with Layton really encapsulates what the BIG scheme is all about. Layton already runs his successful photography company from his base in Newquay but with a bit of imagination he decided to take his business to new heights by investing time into finding out about public funding.
So the simple question is why have you decided to do this now?
Ha! I know it does seem crazy, I have a successful commercial photography business based here in Newquay, but I always wanted to do something different and after 8 years of building this business up doing promotional and editorial work I was looking for something new. A friend in South Africa had bought a drone and I thought it was a cool idea, but we sat on it for a year until we saw the funding available for Cornish businesses and thought we should apply.
How did you find out about the funding?
My wife Dreya was looking on the internet and came across all the schemes, it was a bit daunting at first, all the admin and the forms but I know it was worth it. I have to say a big thank you to Mark (one of the BIG team) for all his help in processing the application.
So, what did you actually buy? It looks like something from Transformers!
Basically it’s an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)
Yeah, perhaps not so basic! Essentially it is a 6 rotor flying drone similar to a helicopter. However, the word drone often gives people negative vibes, but this isn’t about spying on people or anything like that. It can actually be used for good from everything from aerial views of landslides to dangerous surveying work.
How does it work?
It uses its 6 rotors to carry a small load; this can be a camera, a video camera or even something like thermal imaging technology which all feeds back to the pilot on the ground. Once we have permission to fly and the people in the surrounding area are made aware we can fly the UAS using GPS. So, for instance if the UAS had thermal imaging on board we could fly over a solar farm to check for defective panels. Also being in the Coastguard I am interested in its potential life saving capabilities for search and rescue.
What have you used it for so far?
We have had a lot of interest already; we have showcased the UAS at University College Falmouth at their Tremough campus, where the students were interested in its capabilities. We also recently filmed the polo on the beach at Watergate Bay, that was a fun event and the video is up on our website. We are also getting involved with filming the Royal Cornwall Show and the Greenpower event at Newquay Airport with local schools.
You are quite interested in the community aspect?
Yes, drones do get a bad rep but we are interested in working with any charitable body within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly that has a real use for the drone. We would be interested in hearing from them and seeing if it would be possible to work together on anything.
What’s next for Superdrone?
Currently it is just Dreya and I. We will soon need someone to help us over the next 12 months, not only with the piloting of the UAS but also with the promotion of the Superdrone brand. We hope to find out more about employing someone with all the different schemes that are out there in Cornwall to get people into work. So watch this space!
About Business Investment for Growth (BIG)…
The purpose of the programme is to improve the competitive advantage of high growth Cornish Small & Medium Enterprises (SME's), leading to 400 skilled jobs being created. It is aimed at high value added businesses with a strong track record of performance, operating in national/international growth markets with innovative and competitive products and services.
ERDF investment into the BIG Programme £3.6 million until March 2015.
Investment opportunities with BIG:
Investments will be between £1,000 minimum and £50,000 maximum on a match-funded basis. It is a competitive fund and all investment decisions will be made by a private sector led panel process.
Find out more about Superdrone & Layton Bennett photography at: www.laytonbennett.co.uk
All imagery used by kind permission of Layton Bennett Photography
Tuesday 11 June 2013