£2.5 million investment will grow UK space technology industry

Published on Friday, 17 February 2012 10:36
Posted by Scott Buckler

Twenty-two British companies are to share £2.5 million of government support to enable them to develop commercial products and services using space technology or space-derived data

The grant funding – from the UK Space Agency , the Technology Strategy Board, and the South East England Development Agency  – will  support twenty-eight fast-track research and development projects, each lasting between 6 and 9 months.  Including match-funding from the businesses involved, the total value of the R&D; is nearly £5 million.  Projects will cover a broad range of growth opportunities, ranging from novel propulsion for cubesats; through technology to exploit the Galileo navigation satellite system; to techniques for crop monitoring from space.

The investment forms part of the UK Space Agency's National Space Technology Programme (NSTP), which will see government investment of £10 million to help UK industry exploit growth opportunities in the space sector and improve the UK's space technology capabilities.

Dr David Williams, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said:

"The UK space industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country, contributing £7.5bn annually to the UK economy.  The National Space Technology Programme will help us further this success by providing an opportunity for promising UK space technologies and applications to be    developed to meet their full commercial potential and for businesses to explore collaborations         with other sectors to establish services in new markets."

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said:

"This new investment in research and development by the UK's space industry will help innovative British businesses to design and develop cutting-edge products and technologies that will be in  global demand, helping to drive UK economic growth and support high-tech jobs here."

Oona Muirhead CBE, Chief Executive of SEEDA, said:

"We are delighted that SEEDA's £500,000 investment is providing fast-track support – just at the time it is needed – to British companies in the space industry.  Engaging in research and development programmes is critical if Britain is to increase its share in the export market and the global space industry provides huge commercial and export opportunities."

The organisations leading the collaborative projects are: ABSL Power Solutions Ltd (Abingdon), AMPAC ISP UK Westcott Ltd (Aylesbury), Astrium Ltd (Stevenage & Portsmouth, 3 projects), CBIL (Whitchurch, Bucks), Clyde Space Ltd (Glasgow), e2v technologies (UK) Ltd (Chelmsford), EADS-UK (Bristol), Exemplar Associates Ltd (Biggleswade), Logica (Leatherhead, 2 projects), M Squared Lasers (Glasgow), Magellium Ltd (Harwell), Mars Space Ltd (Southampton), National Physical Laboratory (Teddington, 2 projects), Nottingham Scientific Ltd (Nottingham), QinetiQ (Malvern), Reaction Engines Ltd (Abingdon), SSBV Space and Ground Systems Ltd (Portsmouth), Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (Guildford, 2 projects), Umeco – Structural Materials (Derby), VEGA Space Ltd (Welwyn Garden City), VIPER RF Ltd (Sunderland, 2 projects) and Zettlex UK Ltd (Cambridge).

Fourteen of the twenty-two companies offered funding are small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs) while fifteen of them plan to use facilities available at the International Space Innovation Centre at Harwell and Guildford.

The grant funding has been awarded following the companies' success in the fast-track part of the "Space for Growth" competition for collaborative R&D; funding.  The results of the other part of the competition, which will see grant funding of up to £2 million awarded to each of a small number of 'flagship' R&D; projects, are likely to be announced in April 2012.

National Space Technology Programme funding continues to help develop proposals to expand the capability of the UK space sector.  An announcement of opportunity was made last week (7 February 2012) for £0.5m in funding of early-stage Pathfinder projects to help encourage long-term technology development and innovation.  The competition is open to both academia and industry, and can award funding of up to £50,000 to individual projects.


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