UKSA invests £6.5m into space projects and clusters

21st Feb 2023
UKSA invests £6.5m into space projects and clusters

A project exploring the potential for a space observatory and another focusing on the manufacturing of spacecraft are among many missions that have just received funding from the UK Space Agency (UKSA). The agency announced on 14th February that it will be investing £6.5 million into 18 projects and space clusters to “address local priorities” such as using Earth Observation to monitor water leakage and coastal erosion. UKSA invests regularly into the industry, and the February announcement seems to be becoming a regular event.

Who is receiving the cash that UKSA invests?

The UKSA investment is focused on supporting high impact schemes across UK, including England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Island. There are several companies and organisations receiving a share of the pool, but the most is being given to the Midlands Aerospace Alliance. With £500,000, the R&D program will support small engineering companies across the Midlands to make their technologies and capabilities benefit the space industry, such as the development of spacecraft or launch sites.

Another project that is receiving a large protion of what UKSA invests in this round, the Space Technology and Exploitation Programme in Northern Ireland, will oversee a pilot program to enable space supply chain SMEs engage with larger companies and help fill their technology gaps. The programme is receiving £495,000.

Another part of the funding includes ‘scoping projects’, which focuses on investing into exploring the potential of future certain programs. The Dark Sky Observatory in Wales is a project looking to develop an observatory and planetarium at Spaceport Snowdonia, and has received £36,000.

The UKSA said the funding also includes £1.5 million into a consortium of business support providers, led by business accelerator Entrepreneurial Spark, to help companies get involved in the space sector. In August 2022, UKSA announced a previous collaboration with the company generated almost £9 million and created 80 new jobs in the sector.

Lastly, the funding will also support local areas in appointing Space Cluster Managers, who will work with local governments, businesses and academia to generate space activities and collaboration within those areas, according to the agency.

Continued funding flows

The UK has not been shy with handing out large sums of funding over the past year. The latest announcement comes a year after ten space clusters in the UK were given £600,000 in February 2022.

Further, this January the agency plunged £50 million to “supercharge” satellite projects in the UK such as developing new constellations, ground systems, and whole end-to-end systems to deliver these services.

“These projects will tap into the wealth of talent found in places like Cornwall and the east Midlands, as well as across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, while using space and satellite technology to support local communities,” said Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology.

“This funding will help link local clusters to valuable networks of innovators and investors, showcasing the strengths of the UK space sector to international investors and levelling up the economy”, she continued.  

Click here to see more details of the projects receiving funding.

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