Space Park Leicester to benefit from funding boost for UK space sector

Leading experts in Leicestershire have secured a share of £6.5 million of funding from the UK Space Agency to drive forward the country’s space industry.

The cash boost will support high impact, locally led schemes and space cluster development managers to help the space sector grow across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Among those to benefit will be the University of Leicester, which helps lead the award-winning Space Park Leicester – the world’s first science and innovation park specifically designed for space-related companies and researchers.

It will receive £284,000 to fund a Cluster Development Manager who will work with local government, businesses and academia, over three years, to coordinate space activity and encourage collaboration and inward investment in the Midlands.

A further £500,000 will go to the Midland Aerospace Alliance’s Pivot into Space R&D programme.

Space Park Leicester Director of Strategic Partnerships, Professor Martin Barstow, said: “We are pleased that the UKSA recognises the importance of the Midlands to the space economy and the contribution from Space Park Leicester.

“In collaboration with the Midlands Aerospace Alliance, the funding will allow us to coordinate the growing cluster activities in the East and West Midlands and bring them together under a single umbrella.”

The experienced astrophysicist and space scientist added: “Space Park Leicester has already established a strong cluster in the East of the region, and we know there is growing activity in the West. Bringing these activities together will increase the strength of the space economy in the region as a whole.

“The cluster manager funding will be complemented by the MAA’s Pivot into Space R&D programme, which provides direct support to space businesses across the region.”

Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “Establishing a network of space clusters and high impact projects will accelerate the development of the thriving space ecosystem the UK needs to realise the full economic potential of space across the UK.

“We’ve been working with the regions to understand their strengths and the needs of their local space economies so that we can back these clusters of excellence to collaborate, grow and thrive.”

The projects are focused on piloting local activity that could be scaled up and rolled out nationally and are being supported by the UK Space Agency’s delivery partner, the Satellite Applications Catapult.

Stuart Martin, Chief Executive Officer at the Satellite Applications Catapult said: “We have a long-standing commitment to driving the growth of the UK space sector at a regional level and are delighted to continue our support for the delivery of this investment, with our focus on building a coherent space community.

“This additional funding will help cement relationships across the UK’s space community while forging new collaborations with those not yet utilising and benefiting from space data and technology.

“We look forward to ensuring that the sector as a whole takes advantage of the opportunities presented through these locally led initiatives and supporting a connected and thriving ecosystem.”