The UK Space Agency is launching a programme to help firms take off by accessing the opportunities space-related enterprise can bring.
With plans for space launch facilities in Sutherland, Shetland and Moray, the 10-week business accelerator programme, delivered in partnership with business growth experts from Entrepreneurial Spark and The University of Strathclyde, could attract interest from north of Scotland-based businesses.
The scheme, which gets under way in early March, aims to find entrepreneurs from a wide range of sectors to strengthen the UK’s space industry infrastructure.
The UK space industry now employs close to 42,000 people across the country and generates an income of nearly £15 billion every year – and the government, via the UK Space Agency, wants to accelerate that growth.
Scotland is particularly strong within the UK’s space sector. The Scottish space industry also punches well above its weight and is home to almost a fifth of the total jobs in the UK sector, valued at £880 million in 2017-18.
Catherine Mealing-Jones, director of growth at The UK Space Agency, said: “The space sector is ripe with opportunity, and as the UK recovers from the Covid pandemic this new support programme will bring in diverse ideas and talent to realise that growth opportunity.
“A practical approach to how to develop a business, combined with access to experts who can guide success are hallmarks of the programme. This is coupled with an holistic focus on supporting truly sustainable businesses to ensure that the space sector can provide new long-term secure employment right around the country.
“Key to this approach is bringing innovators together in existing and new clusters of space-related activity, thereby gathering critical mass which will also benefit adjacent parts of the economy. The relationship with universities is also key and provides a pathway for students into the sector and for vibrant knowledge exchange for business.”
Sectors targeted by the programme include manufacturing, engineering, robotics, computer and data science and those involved with autonomous vehicles.
Businesses of any size can take part, include those that are already involved in the space sector and looking to grow, who use space technology as part of their business or are open to exploring expansion into the space sector. These may include representatives from a number of sectors such as conservation, archaeology, sustainability, economics, finance, law and lifestyle and health.
Under the scheme, two strands of support are available.
Business Horizons is a series of eight one-off hour long events, beginning on Monday, March 8.
Leo (which stands for Low Earth Orbit, named after the orbit satellites use to travel the Earth) is a 10-week programme designed to inject pace, with entrepreneurs emerging with momentum and a clear strategy for 90 days of targeted activity to help them make progress in the UK space programme.
Sarah Burns, space cluster development manager of The University of Strathclyde, said: “Scotland’s space sector has seen impressive growth over the past years and this business support programme is a great example of how universities play an important role in this growth and the business eco-system. By translating research and innovative ideas into the business and commercial worlds, and as a ‘Place of Useful Learning’, the University of Strathclyde is well-placed to support businesses wishing to explore space as a business opportunity. This programme allows us to engage with the amazing start-ups and businesses that are becoming interested in the opportunities that the space sector can enable in their respective sectors, all of which supports the growth of what is an exciting and rapidly expanding UK space sector.”
Mike Stephens, chief executive of Entrepreneurial Spark, added: “Space is a truly exciting industry right now, with ground-breaking developments happening all the time. SMEs in this sector are growing by 30% per annum and there is a real opportunity to get more businesses involved in exploring how space technology can enable growth for them. Entrepreneurs have a massive role to play in generating an inclusive economic recovery, and mobilising them in Space sector has the potential deliver this across the whole of the UK. You may not even realise you are using space technology in your business, and the opportunities that are open to you as a result. This is a world-class programme of free support, delivered virtually reaching every corner of the UK. Now is the time for action and our partnership is there to support space entrepreneurs every step of the way.”
To find out more about the UKSA’s Business Accelerator programme, entrepreneurs and company directors should visit: www.entrepreneurial-spark.com/space-accelerator
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