Space hub Harwell boldly goes on a jobs bonanza

‘NEXT STEP’: Stuart Martin, chief executive of the Satellite Applications Catapult

‘NEXT STEP’: Stuart Martin, chief executive of the Satellite Applications Catapult

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

ONE small step in Harwell is a giant leap for Oxfordshire’s space industry, with the promise of tens of thousands of new jobs.

The UK’s space hub, Satellite Applications Catapult, has signed a deal with Government export body UK Trade & Investment to boost Britain’s share of the international space market.

The aim is to reach 10 per cent by 2030, generating £40bn of space-related turnover and up to 100,000 new jobs around the country.

And as home to the Catapult, Harwell and the surrounding area will profit most, with “tens of thousands” of jobs making and processing information from satellites.

Satellite technology is used in weather forecasting, crop productivity, satellite navigation systems and communications.

The Catapult, which opened in May last year, is an incubator designed to turn satellite and space technology research into viable businesses.

It costs £10m a year to run and is part-funded by the Government’s Technology Strategy Board.

Under the deal, staff from the Catapult and UKTI will work together to identify space sector firms which need help to find overseas business.

They will also team up for profile-raising events and trade missions.

Stuart Martin, chief executive of the Catapult, said: “Harwell has been identified as the centre for the UK’s space effort, so in or around this area will be the focus of that job growth.

“Tens of thousands of jobs will be created in this area and they will be in everything, from manufacturing satellites to the technology surrounding their use.

“That will include information processing, data handling and communication systems, so a broad range of skills will be needed for this technology which is used across many industries from farming to insurance and maritime.

“Accelerating exports is vital, if we are to grow the UK share of the global space sector from the present level of six per cent to 10 per cent over the next two decades.

“We are already working with partners in the US, Europe, Chile, and other countries.

“This will help us to take the next steps in increasing the UK’s export potential for space-related products.”

Rory Pereira, deputy regional director for UKTI, said: “This agreement is a small step for the space industry but a huge step for the South East. It will help us to boost the vast potential for the UK’s space sector.”

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