Wales is a “great place to do space” with established companies and new growth areas, said John Whalley, chief executive of Aerospace Wales.

Speaking to FINN at the Space-Comm Expo 2023, he said: “[Wales] has been a great space to do aerospace for a very long time. So we’re building on that aerospace tradition, so we can transfer some of those skills into the new industry. We also have a country which has its own unique characteristics in terms of typography, and so space applications lend themselves on the downstream side to be exploited in Wales.

“It’s a really great growth area. Some of it though has happened by pure serendipity. So we have what I call our three stellar startups, Space Forge, B2Space and SmallSpark Space Systems. They have just grown up from nothing. Typically, each company has been founded by two people, and they’ve now grown.”

Aerospace Wales Forum

Whalley has been Chief Executive of the Aerospace Wales Forum since its foundation in 2002.

The Forum represents 160 companies in Wales including branches of six of the world’s top ten aerospace, space and defence companies and provides advice on strategy and industry matters to the Welsh Government. In 2015 the Forum, working in partnership with Welsh Government, published a Space Strategy for Wales and established a specialist Space Group. Other key sector groups include MRO, aircraft interiors and civil aircraft manufacturing.

In 2022, Welsh Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, unveiled the Welsh Government’s National Space Strategy.

The strategy highlights the unique physical and business environment Wales offers companies that are revolutionising capabilities in the space sector, and sets out how Wales could become the world’s first sustainable space nation by 2040, leading the way to a greener space.

Since 2010, space has proven to be one of the UK’s fastest growing sectors, trebling in size during that time. The sector now employs 42,000 people and generates an income of £14.8 billion each year.
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