The UK Space Agency (UKSA) is investing £32m to help export satellite technology and services benefiting SMEs involved in the space sector’s supply chain.
Grants will be awarded to British companies to work with international partners developing satellite technology to tackle issues like flooding, deforestation and humanitarian crises in emerging economies, UKSA announced. These grants will be match funded by the industry.
Small businesses account for 65 per cent of the space sector’s turnover, according to the “UK Space Industry: Size and Health Report 2014”, and play an important role in supplying component parts to space majors in the UK and overseas.
Stephen Kyle-Henney, managing director of TISICS, which reinforces and designs metal components, said the agency’s support of SMEs in the sector has been fantastic.
“UKSA is actively working with SMEs to help them grow in the UK and export markets. They have technical and commercial competence to make that happen. It’s difficult to overstate just how positive they are, they’re not just focused on the big boys; it is the SMEs, it’s trying to get a UK supply chain in place to deliver a space industry.”
The UKSA’s International Partnership Space Programme (IPSP) will run over two years, supporting UK companies to become trusted partners to provide high-tech exports. It is expected that the majority of the IPSP’s projects will focus on better use or enhancement of existing space infrastructure, but the scheme will also be open to funding satellite applications, infrastructure, facilities, data, research, skills and training.
Kyle-Henney added the majority of its exports are to European countries due to the relatively low cost of meeting clients and barriers to working in the US. “A production run for space might be 50 parts a year, that’s not a huge number of components if you’re in the aerospace industry or automotive industry. For the bigger tier one suppliers that’s not exciting, for an SME 50 parts a year with the price tag of £5m a year is great business,” he added.
The report also found the sector is worth £11.3bn to the UK economy, employing more than 34,000 people. Small businesses had very optimistic outlooks for the sector, with 79 per cent expecting performance in the next three years to be greater than the previous three years, higher than their larger counterparts. A boost for UK businesses in the space industry are the plans for a UK spaceport based in Newquay which has the longest runway and unrestricted airspace.
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