SPACE technology group Clyde Space is set to launch only its second investment round as it looks to build a manufacturing base in the US and embarks on an aid project to reduce deaths caused by African bush fires.

Chief executive Craig Clark revealed the company is looking for up to £4 million to fund expansion into the US, where 40 per cent of its business is generated, as part of a plan to quadruple in size in the next five years.

This comes as the firm reported flat revenue for the year to April 2017 of about £5m, which Mr Clark said was because two major projects were delayed.

Mr Clark also said in future he would be open to acquiring competitors, or selling, if the situation was in the best interests of the business.

Since launching the first Scottish-made satellite from Kazakhstan in 2014, Clyde Space now supports, in some form, 40 per cent of all CubeSat missions. Last year, it made 60 satellites from its headquarters in Glasgow.

In a month which has seen a number of high-profile contract wins, Clyde Space has also commenced work on a project to develop an early-warning system for detecting bush fires from space. The project is a collaboration with the UK Space Agency and South African National Space Agency, among a number of international partners, to detect bush fires in Africa.

This FireSat pilot programme will demonstrate the ability of nanosatellite technology to deliver enhanced fire detection data to be implemented into South Africa’s existing Advanced Fire Information System (AFIS).

“There are massive problems in Africa with bush fires,” said Mr Clark. “There is a significant loss of life, and costs. It’s a global issue but a big problem in Africa.”

Africa is often referred to as the “fire continent” and accounts for 70 per cent of the total global wildfires and more than half of the total area burned worldwide in the last two decades.

Clyde Space will launch a demonstration CubeSat which will using cutting-edge infrared imagery to detect bush fire at the early stage of 90 square metres, and provide co-ordinates for the source.

Mr Clark said the cameras can get in as close as a metre for a high-resolution image. “It’s good enough to pin point fire locations when they are at an early stage, to allow people to act,” he said.

He added the technology could be rolled out into other applications. “With bush fires, we have had the idea of doing that for years, we have done studies on it. It’s a difficult commercial prospect.

“A ridiculous amount of money is spent looking for fires. Space seems like the obvious place to look for them, it’s a lot less expensive than having people look [in aeroplanes].”

Mr Clark said the company was making progress in its planned US expansion, and was seeking £3m to £4m to fund this growth.

“I’ve only taken on £700,000 worth of investment over the years, so with that investment we’re looking at doing other developments as well,” said Mr Clark.

The company is backed by Scottish investment companies Coralinn and Nevis Capital.

He said: “The plan is to go to the US to raise money, to do the US properly,” he said. “It’s about the right people. To get the right people in the US will make the difference and to get those people will need funded correctly. It will probably take a year from being set up to start paying back.”

Mr Clark said turnover was on course to reach between £7m or £8m in the current year. He said: “Our order book has never been so big. We’ve just finished the first quarter and we’ve got about 70 per cent of our income for the year.

“It’s great, our pipeline has never looked so good, the market is growing really quickly and our performance reflects that.”

The company is currently recruiting to build on its 80 staff, while Malachy Devlin was appointed chief operating officer replacing Jennifer Louise Riddell-Dillet, who left to become managing director of Novograf.

Since its financial year ended, Clyde Space has installed a ground station at its Glasgow base enabling it to directly communicate with and control its satellites, while it was also chosen by Silicon Valley start-up Audacy to design and manufacture relay satellites for demonstration missions, which may eventually lead to a communications network in orbit.

Always looking no more than two or three years ahead, Mr Clark said the market was growing so quickly there was huge opportunities to expand.

“I’ve not really thought about an exit. I’ve been doing this for 12 years, there are opportunities for Clyde Space to develop and grow.

“There may be consolidation in the market. There are a lot of players. The bigger guys are thinking ‘what do we do about the small satellites, and you’ve got the other small satellite companies that are maybe not in as good a position as we are, but they might have technology that is interesting.

There might be consolidation along the way.”

Mr Clarke said it was possible Clyde Space could make acquisitions, or be acquired itself. “These things, happen, it’s whatever would be best for the company. The company is on a journey, it’s a world leader in what it does and Glasgow is a great place for it to be. I want to see Clyde Space quadruple in size in the next five years here in Glasgow.”