Ten space clusters across the UK have been given a £600,000 funding boost by the UK Space Agency.

The regional hubs will support new and growing companies, building on local expertise and catalysing investment into the space sector. More than £600,000 will go towards supporting activities that create jobs and growth, including recruiting space cluster managers to strengthen local space sector leadership groups and developing new business opportunities.

The funding comes as the Government unveiled its Levelling Up White Paper yesterday (February 2) which sets out to spread opportunity and prosperity to all parts of the UK. Space is a vital part of the UK economy and worth over £16 billion per year, but the balance of investment and jobs is currently skewed towards certain regions. The government recently launched its National Space Strategy which outlined long-term plans to grow and level up the space sector across the UK.

Strategy sets out vision for “thriving, resilient, well-connected space ecosystem”

Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “The National Space Strategy sets out a vision for ensuring we have a thriving, resilient and well-connected space ecosystem across the whole of the UK. We are building on our strengths in space such as satellite manufacturing, while supporting emerging markets like in-orbit servicing, to unlock the growth in the UK space sector and help level up the economy.”

Will Whitehorn, President of the trade association UKspace, added: “Additional grants of this nature are hugely important in helping to communicate the potential for the growing ‘New Space’ economy. Monitoring and understanding our world from space has already become crucial to our survival.”

“Now industrialisation in space will be driven by the need to get to Net Zero and mitigate climate change by shifting more and more carbon generating digital activities outside the atmosphere, and even producing solar power in space. The opportunities these activities will bring to the UK should not be underestimated, from space launch to digital services and even infinity and beyond!”

A statement issued by the UK Space Agency said there was “a need for continuing significant investment by government and the private sector if these goals are to be achieved and the UK is able to move into the top tier of nations leading the industrial revolution in space.”

Funding has gone to the following organisations in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Further details of the grant awards and investments can be found here:

Cornwall Development Company – £51,000
West of England Combined Authority – £97,500
Northern Ireland Space Office – £72,000
Aerospace Wales £34,000
Midlands Aerospace Alliance £64,000
Leeds University £73,000
Highlands and Islands Enterprise £38,000
Open University £43,500
Scottish Space Group (Space Scotland) £64,500
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC; part of UK Research and Innovation) Daresbury Laboratory £61,000

Each organisation will use the funding to support locally led space sector activities in their region. This will include business case development and evidence gathering for local authorities and economic development bodies.

The new funding for regional space clusters follows £500k awarded to seven space hubs across the UK in 2020 to bring together local authorities, expertise and businesses to create a strategy for how their area can take maximum advantage of the commercial space race.

The UK space sector currently employs more than 45,000 people in highly skilled jobs – from space scientists and researchers to engineers and satellite manufacturers. The National Space Strategy looks to harness these strengths and support British companies to seize future opportunities, with the global space economy projected to grow from an estimated £270 billion in 2019 to £490 billion by 2030.

The UK Space Agency is working with local partners, devolved administrations, universities and industry to encourage more space businesses to start, grow and connect with the UK’s wider UK space ecosystem.

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