image: Astronauts wanted at aql hq

Astronauts wanted at aql HQ

aql HQ hosts all kinds of events throughout the year, but Saturday brought something particularly special. Britain’s first astronaut, Helen Sharman CMG OBE, and the CEO and Co-Founder of Mars One, Bas Lansdorp, compered by BBC presenter Dallas Campbell, took to the stage for ‘Astronaut wanted, no experience necessary’ as part of Leeds International Festival.

Prof. Adam Beaumont, founder and CEO of aql, shares his thoughts on the afternoon below:

It was a pleasure to open this event and to frame the day. I’ve grown up in the world of Magnus Pyke, Johnny Ball and David Bellamy. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing other passionate scientists such as Duncan Dallas, who produced the programmes of many of the aforementioned and who also founded Cafe Scientifique. What all of these great people have in common is their passion for making science and technology accessible to the general public, through sharing their passion and insights.

As an ex-academic, I hold those who can ignite inspiration in others in high regard. Helen Sharman was magnificent, and it was a pleasure to be part of making that memory happen in Leeds. When I restored the Salem Chapel, it was with the founding principal that we would use the “Old Chapel” space as a free venue for the good of the city, the good of young people and for the good of the internet. The highlight for me was a comment from one of the parents as part of the Q&A – she explained that as a student, Helen Sharman had visited her school and now, as an adult, she’s got a career in science and she brought her daughter to the event.

During my opening, one of the key messages I wanted to get across was that, once we inspire the next generation and they are energised to aim higher, we need to create ways to support them. When I started in business, there wasn’t easy access to finance or mentorship, so I found my own way. I believe that the growth of my companies would have been quicker and larger if I’d had access to the right advice and funding at those critical stages. I still look back at when the bank pulled out from financing the purchase of the Salem Chapel back in 2008, right at the last moment. I dedicate a lot of my time to helping entrepreneurs navigate their first few steps into business and it feels right.

The energy from Duncan, Helen and Bas was amazing and was a great reminder to me of why I do what I do.