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Harwell Space Cluster launches ambitious growth strategy

26 May 2020

Harwell Space Cluster has published its 10 year growth strategy, supporting its ambition to become the most compelling global gateway to the space sector and making it an even more powerful engine of growth, innovation and investment for the whole of the UK. The strategy sets out the cluster’s aim to number 200 organisations collectively employing 5,000 people by 2030.

The strategy builds on the cluster’s success over the last 10 years, which has seen it grow to 105 organisations, and cemented its role as a platform for UK space companies and for international companies looking to get a foothold in the UK space market. For the next 10 years the cluster will focus on broadening application of expertise and facilities to complex challenges, strengthening existing skills, facilities and business support and increasing engagement around the world to create more opportunities.

The cluster aims to continue putting in place infrastructure and enhancing the environment that will support companies in times of economic uncertainty. Continuing to deliver projects during COVID-19, such as the construction of the UK government-funded National Satellite Test Facility by STFC RAL Space, will ensure that vital national infrastructure is in place to help cluster companies as they emerge from COVID-19.

Professor Chris Mutlow, Director of STFC RAL Space, said: “At RAL Space we’ve watched the Harwell Space Cluster grow around us. We stand ready to support as it sets out to deliver this ambitious strategy.  Our expanding facilities, expert workforce and ability to tackle complex challenges help make Harwell the perfect place for our global partners to work with the UK space sector, and for UK organisations to springboard out into the world.”

Supporting start-up space companies through an ecosystem of facilities, research and business expertise is key to the cluster’s strategy.  The STFC-managed European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre United Kingdom (ESA BIC UK) provides funding, business advice, access to space expertise and laboratories to start-ups wanting to break into the space sector. One company benefiting from funding and support is Lanterne which has developed an application that facilitates social distancing using space-enabled data. Despite the current challenging markets, two ESA BIC UK alumni incubated at Harwell, Flox (formerly Thrive MV) and Orbital Witness have recently raised equity capital. In total 85 companies have been incubated by ESA BIC UK and the alumni has collectively raised over £73m.

The Harwell Space Cluster currently comprises 105 organisations, collectively employing 1,100 people including the UK and European Space Agencies, STFC RAL Space and the Satellite Applications Catapult as well as start-ups and SMEs through to medium and multinational firms.

Last updated: 26 May 2020

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