Ocean clouds seen from space

The project will set a strategy for growing the space industry in the local area.

25 November 2020

4 min read

The University of Portsmouth is set to play a role in developing the multi-billion pound space sector in the local area, thanks to a national initiative.

Government funding has been awarded to support the development of seven new ‘space hubs’ across England, Scotland and Wales.

The Surrey and Hampshire space hub will be led by Enterprise M3, a Local Enterprise Partnership, which will co-ordinate the University and other academic institutions, local businesses and research groups to look at current strengths and set a strategy for how to grow the space sector in the area.

Dr Louise Butt, business development manager at the South Coast Centre of Excellence for Satellite Applications, which is hosted by the University, worked on the proposal. She said: “The UK ambition to capture ten per cent of the global space market means we need to build on current regional programmes and this project will drive this forward.

“The newly formed space hubs will recognise untapped potential at regional level – mapping out the strengths and expertise in local businesses and academic institutions, and co-ordinating them. These hubs will be a fantastic addition to the current UK regional space ecosystem.

“It’s an exciting time to be part of the rapidly expanding UK space industry.”

The six-month project will see local government, experts and business leaders come together to find out how their area can take advantage of the opportunities of the commercial space age.

Professor Bob Nichol

Since its discovery at the end of last century, dark energy has been a riddle wrapped in an enigma. We are all desperate to gain some greater insight into its characteristics and origin. Such work helps us make progress in solving this 21st Century mystery.

Professor Bob Nichol, Co-author, Director of the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation

Each location will use the money to assess their current space capabilities and develop action plans for how they can accelerate the growth of their local space hub.

University of Portsmouth Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bob Nichol, said: “Playing our part in a local space strategy is crucial and part of our civic duty to promote emerging areas of local economic growth. To help, the university will also invest alongside the UK Space Agency and our regional partners.”

The aerospace industry, which has been dramatically impacted by Covid-19, is worth £15bn a year, making it an important part of the regional economies of many parts of the UK.

Dr Colin Baldwin, head of local growth strategy at the UK Space Agency, said: “Space has gone from a nice-to-have sector to a heavyweight industry in the UK over the past decade – trebling in size and now employing over 42,000 people.

“We know that space will help put fuel back in the tank of the economy as it recovers from the pandemic and are determined this growth will be felt in all corners of the country.”