UK space sector fired up for growth despite Galileo threat

Commenting on the launch of the Space Growth Partnership’s strategy for the UK space sector published today, Mark Nisbett, a technology partner at RSM said:

‘The Prosperity from Space strategy proposes new targets such as doubling the value of industrial activities supported by Satellite services to £500bn, generating £5bn in new exports and targeting emerging market opportunities which it has estimated at more than £75bn.

‘These sound like hugely ambitious targets but the sector has so much potential for future growth.

‘Much of this growth will need to be driven by the small and middle market. Access to UK spaceports and the facilities being developed at the Harwell space cluster in Oxfordshire and elsewhere will contribute. As recognised in the strategy much will also come from the development of data applications.

‘Further encouragement of investment in the UK will also be needed through venture capital and other funds as well as enhanced tax incentives through schemes such as R&D tax credits. Clarity on post-Brexit trade deals will also help unlock business investment.

‘The UK’s space sector has rarely been higher on the media agenda. Last weekend we saw the launch of Nasa’s InSight mission to Mars which included UK-supplied seismomitors to detect ‘Marsquakes’. There is also the ongoing debate around the UK’s future involvement in the European Space Agency’s Galileo programme and the proposed development of our own global navigation satellite system.

‘Brexit is being used by many in Europe to target UK business, with Galileo being one of the higher profile cases. Airbus has the ability to move their Galileo work to their mainland European operations. For other manufacturing businesses this will be more of a challenge though not necessarily insurmountable.

‘Despite these challenges, the UK space sector has a good story to tell. It has come a long way in bringing together government, industry and academia and already supports £250bn of the UK economy. To hit the target of a £40bn by 2030, the existing technical abilities, entrepreneurial spirit and drive need a clear overall strategy and for everyone to pull together.'