The North West has become a strategic part of the UK’s multi-billion pound space sector following the launch of a new North West Space Cluster, which aims to tap into the region’s engineering expertise.
Led by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) alongside a consortium of regional partners, the North West Space Cluster is expected to bring multiple benefits to the region’s advanced manufacturing, advanced engineering and digital technology communities.
There is believed to be huge potential for these and other sectors to engage more with the space industry, but until now the North West had not been considered a strategic part of the UK’s space sector.
The sector has trebled in size since 2010, generating an annual income of £16.5 billion, and has continued to grow despite the COVID-19 pandemic. In the North West specifically, space-related organisations benefitted from an estimated 275 per cent increase in income in 2019 to 2020.
Dr Barbara Ghinelli, Director of Cluster Development at STFC, said:
“The space industry is playing an increasingly valuable role in supporting UK regional innovation which brings economic benefits, such as high value jobs and skills development opportunities. Our cluster strategy highlights an exceptional opportunity for the North West region, using space as an attractor that leverages local strengths, such as digital, advanced materials and defence.”
The announcement follows recent funding from the UK Space Agency to support the development of several regional space hubs across the UK to drive collaboration, investment and new opportunities for local communities.
Bob Morris, Chariman of the Northern Space Consortium – one of the Cluster’s regional partners – said:
“We are excited to see the formal launch of the North West Space Cluster. The Cluster will enable the space industry in our region to expand much more rapidly. Not only will this benefit the North West but, with all our skills and expertise, it will also help the UK to achieve its goal of realising 10 per cent of the world space business.
“We encourage all our members and anyone else in our region, whether already involved in the space industry or interested to learn more about the exciting opportunities in this rapidly expanding industry, to register their interest on the Cluster website.”