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Special effects expert who's worked on James Bond launches Exeter business to help astronauts prepare for space flight

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A pioneering robotics firm that is developing a state-of-the-art diagnostic and physical training machine has moved into Exeter Science Park.
Sigma Technical was launched in 2016 by engineer Mike Badley who, having honed expertise in special effects working on some of the leading Hollywood blockbusters from the last two decades, including Batman, James Bond and Star Wars, as well as large-scale live events including Olympic opening ceremonies, Glastonbury festival and tours for Adele and Take That, wanted to use his technical expertise for new challenges.

Gary Barlow on stage with Take That
Experienced in designing and building an extensive range of electro-mechanical special effects, Sigma Technical has taken this knowledge to develop a robotic solution for human physical development that can accurately measure, optimise and create near optimal bespoke training to aid rehabilitation and build the strength in an individual.
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Mr Badley said: “The idea of collaborative robots, or cobots, has been something that has always interested me. High-end film production is becoming very advanced and robotic solutions are often integrated into special effects. The intension is to use novel robotics for practical solutions beyond pure entertainment.
“The machines that are being used currently for physio and diagnostics are outdated and do not provide the insightful data that new technology can enable.”
Badley’s cutting-edge machine customises exercises which can be used for pre-and post-flight training for human space flight, or in mission exercise to help maintain muscle mass and bone density. It can enhance the training for elite sports, from Formula 1 drivers to rugby players, providing exercises that are tailored to strengthen specific muscles. It is also of great potential for neurological and physical rehabilitation, as well as providing in-depth diagnostic data.

Sigma Technical has developed robotics that can prepare astronauts for space flight. Pictured: The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with a Soyuz MS-05 space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, ISS in July. (Image: AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
The design has resulted in Sigma receiving a Seal of Excellence from the European Commission via Horizon 2020.
Sigma Technical also took part in the SpaceTechSW 2017 incubator supported the UK Space Agency and SETsquared Exeter, which aims to boost small businesses looking at new space technology in the South West.
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Mr Badley said: “The move to the Science Park has enabled me to be in a creative space with like-minded people who are striving to create technological solutions. I am keen to grow my business with strong links to the University and utilising the expertise of the graduates.”
Sigma has ambitious plans to work alongside the University to further develop its pioneering cobot, as well as seeking investors for further developments.
Joe Pearce, Head of Business Support for SETsquared Exeter, said: “Sigma is an exciting addition to the Science Park. Mike’s innovative ideas encapsulate the vision of the Science Park as a centre of excellence creating the technology and scientific innovations of the future.”
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SETsquared is a partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, which supports science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) related start-ups. It was recently ranked as global no. 1 university business incubator.
The building of the Science Park Centre has been made possible with shareholder equity from Devon County Council, East Devon District Council, Exeter City Council, the University of Exeter; the Heart of the South West LEP which committed £4.5m loan from the Growing Places Fund; and a £1 million grant from the Regional Growth Fund.
Source: Devon live