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Ambitious £4bn Growth Trajectory Plans Set for Scottish Space Industry

David Paul

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Scottish space

The country’s space industry could provide a launchpad for the growth of the Scottish economy and help combat climate change.

Figures from a recent study by Scottish Enterprise indicate that Scotland’s space sector income could reach over £2 billion by 2030, as well as contribute data solutions to combat climate change.

The industry ambition is to double income to £4 billion over the next ten years and with a rate of growth of 12% year-on-year, it on current track due to the commercial responsiveness in what’s described as the ‘new space’ operating environment.

New space covers three distinct areas, including space applications, manufacturing and operations and auxiliary services.

A report in July by the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) looking at space start-ups highlighted that a third of all UK investments were in Scotland, due in part to investment by the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise.

Ivan McKee, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, commented: “Our ambition is to capture the substantial economic benefits of the emerging global space sector by ensuring Scotland becomes the first country in Europe to provide an end-to-end solution for small satellite manufacture, launch and innovation in satellite data analysis, including critical earth observation and environmental data.

“Scotland is proud to be the home of the rapidly-expanding commercial space sector which is supported by the close collaboration between government, industry and academia through the Scottish Space Leadership Council.

He said: “The space sector in Scotland also has a key role to play in tackling climate change. Having the ability to launch satellites here in Scotland will enable the expansion and enhancement of earth observation and environmental data which will enable a real and meaningful contribution to efforts to tackle the climate emergency.”

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Scotland has already seen a boost in space-based projects over the last few years. Companies like Skyrora are increasing their scope in the country, successfully launching the UK’s first ground rocket test in 50 years, as well as announcing plans to build a rocket test facility and provide 170 jobs for Scotland’s space industry.

Councillors in the Highland county of Sutherland have also recently approved the building of a new spaceport on peatland on the A’ Mhòine Peninsula near Tongue in late August.

In September, Glasgow built ‘nanosatellites’ were announced for launch later that month, joining a fleet of more than 100 objects in low Earth orbit that predict global trade movements.

Scottish Enterprise director of national opportunities David Smith said: “In Scotland, the whole eco-system around the space sector is attractive to companies from the strong R&D base to the talent around data science, high-value manufacturing and collaboration through the Scottish Space Leadership Council.

“It is great to see the continued growth and ambition to double the forecast income to £4 billion by 2030 and although there is a long way to go there is a wealth of talent to get there alongside support from Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise.

He said: “It is an exciting time for space and as we emerge from the Covid 19 pandemic it is important to focus on areas of strength in our economy. Not only that but with climate change and our focus on the green recovery the space data sector also has a key role in delivering net zero ambitions too.”

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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