Unlocking Space For Business: UKSA’s New Satellite Initiative 

22nd Oct 2023
Unlocking Space For Business: UKSA’s New Satellite Initiative 

The UK Space Agency (UKSA) unveiled their ‘Unlocking Space for Business programme’ on 18th October. Over the course of the next 18 months, the project will aim to optimise business operations through the use of commercial and government owned satellite infrastructures. Falling Under UKSA’s Inspiration Programme, it will Initially focus on the benefits that satellite data can offer when applied to the transportation, logistics, and financial sectors. 

UKSA has amplified their focus on the UK space industry as of late, with a recent £65 million funding increase for the National Space Innovation Programme. £20 million was also injected into elevating international relationships, ushered through UKSA’s International Bilateral Fund. With a pending £6 million to be released, UKSA said in a press release, the programme will: “bring these untapped benefits to hundreds of new organisations across the UK”. It is also a key pillar of the UK’s National Space Strategy. 

Minister for Space George Freeman said: “with UK space open for business like never before, sectors as diverse as transport and finance have a huge opportunity to bring the benefits of satellite data down to Earth and improve their operations, deliver for customers and ultimately grow their industries.”

Supporting Industry Growth 

The global satellite services market continues to be a significant revenue generator for the UK economy, £370 billion to be exact. Equally, the contributions these services provide equates to 17.7% of Britain’s entire GDP. Similarly, figures from 2022 showed the UK space industry outpaced the general UK economy and produced £17.5 billion.  

Therefore, UKSA said they aim to unlock the potential of satellites for businesses, as the cost associated with space activity continues to fall. Delivered through satellite imagery, connectivity, and navigation, UKSA said businesses can: “harness the advantages offered by satellites”.

The Part Satellites Will Play

To kick things off, UKSA will host a range of workshops and development sessions on the satellite landscape, to highlight their benefits and which services are key for each business’s priorities. UKSA said satellites can fulfill a range of applications, including: 

  • Satellite imagery for climate variable measurements;
  • Verify customer insurance claims after extreme weather events;
  • Augment tracking capabilities through satellite position and navigation;
  • Connect crew and passengers who are travelling by sea and air to operators and their families

Dr Paul Bate, UKSA CEO, said: “Unlocking Space for Business will champion the use of space and help tackle barriers facing organisations that have not traditionally used satellite data or services. This will help catalyse further investment into our growing space sector and deliver greater benefits for businesses, people, and the environment.”

A Future £6 Million Funding Grant

Coming in late 2023, the 18-month programme will also see £6 million of UKSA funding split between a range of business-led projects. That being, targeting the launch of: “pilot projects, data procurement or partnerships,” UKSA said. By unlocking the funding round, UKSA also said they will drive revenue growth, improve business operations, and customer relationships. 

At the same time, businesses involved will be able to network with space companies to foster a relationship for ongoing satellite data services. UKSA said British advisory firm PwC is supporting the programme, in addition to Satellite Applications Catapult, who assist in introducing in-space services to the market.

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