Multi-million investment in Space Park Leicester takes another step forward

A planning application has been submitted for the first phase of Space Park Leicester – the pioneering project to establish an ambitious new industry-academic cluster focused on space and space-enabled industries. Space Park Leicester will be located on the site of the former John Ellis School on Leicester’s Waterside, in close proximity to the popular National Space Centre.

The University of Leicester is working with Leicester City Council, Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) and the National Space Centre on the plans, which will support the Government’s strategy to capture 10% of the £400 billion global space market by 2030, creating an international hub combining research, teaching and innovation.

From developing satellite technologies to enabling the detailed analysis of space-enabled data, Space Park Leicester will help transform sectors such as international communications, resource management, environmental monitoring and disaster relief. When completed, the estimated benefits to regional economy are £715 million and 2,500 jobs in the wider supply chain.

The first phase will focus on space data, applications and services. The building will consolidate the University’s Earth Observation capability in one physical location and will create a new home for Leicester’s Institute for Space and Earth Observation, one of the University’s flagship research institutes. The building will also contain first class teaching and laboratory facilities; and house commercial partners, both large and small. It is anticipated that 150 businesses will be active participants within the first five years.

Designed by architects Shepheard Epstein Hunter, the building is striking and contemporary in style with two wings set around a central atrium space. It has been designed to be flexible, equally able to accommodate informal meetings, encourage high-tech work and function as a venue for exhibitions and events.

Phase one will be funded through a £12.8 million grant from the Government’s Local Growth Fund via the LLEP, a £1.5 million contribution from the Natural Environment Research Council and up to £13 million from the University. These contributions are just the start of an estimated £80 million+ aim to transform the site into a world-leading centre for space.

Professor Martin Barstow, University of Leicester Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Strategic Science Projects, commented:

“The submission of this planning application is a significant step forward in our ambition to develop a regional and global hub to help drive the UK space economy. We’ve been delighted by the reaction to the plans since we unveiled our initial proposals earlier this year. We are committed to working closely with our partners and stakeholders from across the city to put Leicester at the centre of space-related research, innovation and skills development.” 

Grant Bourhill, CEO of Leicester Science Parks commented:

“The UK space sector is booming. With a value of £14.2bn and productivity three times the national average, the sector has huge potential for growth. This first step towards Space Park Leicester is tremendously exciting. Building on our 50 year track record of having a Leicester-built instrument in orbit, we are creating a world-leading space facility, confirming Leicester’s international reputation as a leading ’Space City.’ The Space Park will drive economic growth and attract and retain skilled workers, helping us deliver against national, regional and local strategies.

“This planning application comes at a time when Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has spoken of the importance of robotics and space manufacture to the UK economy, something we are keen to see delivered at Space Park Leicester.”  

Subject to planning, construction will start on phase one in the early part of 2019 and will be completed by mid-2020.