Simon Breese, founder of Ground Data

Photo of Simon Breese

Following a successful proof of concept run under the supervision of a large agricultural company, Simon Breese founded Ground Data in 2017 to produce remote autonomous sensors for agricultural and other uses. The company is based at the European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre at Harwell south of Oxford.

What is your background? What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?

My background is in IT sales and marketing. Though I’ve worked successfully as an independent consultant I have long wanted to found a scalable product-based business.

What is your definition of entrepreneurship?

Creating something out of nothing. More accurately starting a profitable business with growth potential, usually from scratch.

How and when did you know your idea was good enough to develop it?

When I found a great level of interest for what we are doing and customers wanting to buy our system.

What would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
Ground Data Logo
  • Determination
  • Customer orientation
  • Team building
What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?

Control over the direction of this venture … though after having taken advice from my team and others.

What individual, company or organization inspires you most? Why?


If you had 5 minutes with the above indiv/company/org, what would you want to ask or discuss?

How to encourage a culture of commercialising innovation i.e. not just an interesting project.

What would you say have been some of your mistakes, failures or lessons learned as an entrepreneur?

My technical partner had to withdraw owing to health reasons. He was difficult to replace. As a coach and consultant I’ve always said ‘it generally happens half as much two years in arrears’, I’m not there yet but missteps and events can cause amazing problems.

How have you funded your ideas?

Grants and self funding until the business is at a stage where I can sensibly seek external investment.

Are there any sector-specific awards/grants/competitions that have helped you?

European Space Agency and Innovate UK

What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?

There are lots of bright people in Oxford, but the University tends to be difficult to navigate. It’s good to see Brookes has been included in this.

If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship resources, where would you send them?

OxLEP, The Foundry and any number of other places. Harwell has a good community of space related companies.

Any last words of advice?

Bring back the Oxford Entrepreneurs Drinks run at the Jam Factory by Mark Evans. If you had a problem there was always someone who knew someone who could help.