Space East – a new regional cluster for the space technology sector – was officially launched by Science Minister George Freeman at the Connected Innovation Conference earlier this year.
New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership secured £163,000 from the UK Space Agency to help catapult growth in high impact projects for the region and UK, and establish a space cluster of businesses, science organisations, educational institutions, local authorities and investors.
The global space market is projected to grow from £270 billion to £490 billion by 2030 according to the UK Space Agency. Yet, it also found that £270 billion of UK economic output is now dependent on data from non-UK satellites.
By injecting funding into regional space hubs and technologies, the UK Space Agency aims to enhance the country’s reputation as a science and technology superpower. It awarded the investment to the LEP as it recognised the leadership and opportunities in the area’s clean growth sectors such as renewable energy, communications and IT and agri-tech.
The Space East cluster was launched at the Connected Innovation event at Adastral Park in Suffolk in March 2023. It was attended by representatives from Innovate UK, the Satellite Applications Catapult, BT, UK Space Agency, Tech East and other organisations and showcased a range of the region’s innovation centres, research institutes and technology hubs.
Norfolk & Suffolk has world-leading businesses and innovation hubs, including Adastral Park, Norwich Research Park, CEFAS, Orbis Energy, Hethel Innovation, University of East Anglia and University of Suffolk. They drive new technological innovations relating to space in areas such as health and social care, offshore energy, marine science and agriculture.
Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive at the UK Space Agency, said: “We are investing in a wide range of space activities all over the country, from satellite communications to missions exploring our Solar System, so it’s fantastic to see a new hub of space organisations come together to highlight the brilliant science and engineering skills in Suffolk, Norfolk and surrounding areas in the East of England.
“The UK space sector is worth £16.5 billion to the UK economy, employing 47,000 people, and it’s growing rapidly thanks to the exciting work taking place across our space clusters from the South West, to the North East, and across Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. We look forward to working with colleagues in the New Anglia cluster to unlock market opportunities, develop STEM expertise and create more jobs.”
Julian Munson, Head of Innovation and Enterprise Zones at New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, which is hosting Space East, said: “From small businesses to research institutions, there is some world-class work being done which demonstrates that Norfolk and Suffolk are at the forefront of next generation technology and the space cluster represents an exciting opportunity to support our innovative businesses.”
Lisa Perkins, Adastral Park & Research Realisation Director at BT Group, commented: “I’m delighted that BT is part of the Suffolk and Norfolk ‘Space East’ cluster. A fast-growing key sector in its own right the space sector is also hugely important to other sectors such as energy, communications and transport.
“BT’s Adastral Park is at the heart of research and innovation and is a thriving ecosystem within which the inclusion of ‘Space’ as a theme is a natural fit. I am excited to see how the ecosystem evolves and to see the purposeful innovative solutions that will materialise.”