The UK Space Agency has awarded £163,000 to the region, in recognition of its extensive expertise in communications, IT and marine science space technology.
The funding was secured by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
It aims to catapult growth in high-impact projects for the region and UK, and establish a ‘space cluster’ of businesses, science organisations, educational institutions, local authorities and investors.
The global space market is projected to grow from £270 billion to £490 billion by 2030 according to the UK Space Agency. Yet, £270 billion of UK economic output is now dependent on data from non-UK satellites.
By injecting funding into regional space hubs and technologies, the UK Space Agency aims to enhance the country’s reputation as a science and technology superpower.
It awarded the investment to the LEP as it recognised the leadership and opportunities in the area’s clean growth sectors such as renewable energy, communications and IT and agri-tech.
Norfolk & Suffolk has world-leading businesses and innovation hubs, including Adastral Park, Norwich Research Park, CEFAS, Orbis Energy, Hethel Innovation, University of East Anglia and University of Suffolk. They drive new technological innovations relating to space in areas such as health and social care, offshore energy, marine science and agriculture.
For example, Adastral Park in Suffolk, covering 100 acres and 4,000 people on-site, is the home of the UK’s largest Communications and IT cluster, as well as the hub for Innovation Martlesham and BT’s Global Research & Development headquarters. It also has extensive satellite ground station facilities.
Lisa Perkins, BT’s Director of Research Realisation, says: “The national recognition for a space cluster in our region presents a great opportunity. Having Adastral Park as one of the principal sites, where other similar world-leading technology areas have been born, will be hugely beneficial for the companies and organisations associated with the initiative.
“Adastral will act to convene the experts and resources to shape the regional space cluster strategy in tandem with the LEP and to enable the successful implementation of the benefits. We look forward to welcoming the Space Cluster to Adastral Park and working closely with all involved to shape an exciting future!”
The LEP has invested in space technology businesses such as Gravitilab on Scottow Enterprise Park in Norfolk, part of the LEP’s Space to Innovate Enterprise Zone, and brought together expertise to develop the space sector.
Gravitilab works on the development of launch vehicles and innovative drone-based microgravity solutions. It has conducted test rocket launches in Scotland and Australia, as well as a range of educational rocket launches.
“It’s fantastic news that the UK Space Agency is supporting development of the Norfolk and Suffolk Space Cluster,” says Rob Adlard, CEO at Gravitilab.
“As one of the rapidly growing companies at the vanguard of New Space in the region, Gravitilab looks forward to playing our part in bringing jobs, investment and cutting-edge capability to the area. Well done to the LEP for securing the funding and driving the local growth we are so proud to be part of.”
A Space Cluster Development Manager for Norfolk and Suffolk will be appointed to establish the cluster, developing new projects, encouraging collaboration and attracting inward investment. This is a fixed-term contract to the end of March 2025.
Julian Munson, Head of Enterprise Zones & Innovation at the LEP, says: “Norfolk & Suffolk has the capability to become a UK leader in space communications and data leveraging existing assets such as Adastral Park. Using the area’s extensive experience of the agriculture, marine and energy sectors, along with the academic research on climate change, there is also a real opportunity for the region to play a lead role in sustainability and the drive to net zero in a space context.
“Entrepreneurs, scientists, and investors are working on ground-breaking technology and we’re seeking to make a leap in development of our capabilities and opportunities for new talent, economic growth and investment. We have ambitious plans for our area, therefore, we’re inviting businesses to contact us to be part of the space cluster and drive innovation.”
Working across the region and beyond, enterprises, and science and educational institutions on Norwich Research Park lead the way on agriculture, health and climate change.
Roz Bird, CEO of AIP LLP, Norwich Research Park, says: “A Norfolk and Suffolk Space Cluster makes eminent sense for Norwich Research Park because there will be many opportunities to apply the expertise and skills of the research and business community, based on site, to existing and new challenges posed by space exploration.
For example, expanding on satellite imagery and observation supporting harvesting, robotic uses in agriculture, and crop planting and monitoring for production and disease control. We look forward to working with Adastral, the UK Space Agency, AgriTechE and the LEP to maximise new research and business activity.”
If your business works in the space sector or is involved in related activities, email Julian Munson at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.