Major funding deal keeps Strathclyde in space race

Scotland's space industry has received a boost after a research centre in Glasgow secured a major funding deal that will prolong its work by three years.
Catapult funding is keeping Strathclyde in the space race. Picture: John DevlinCatapult funding is keeping Strathclyde in the space race. Picture: John Devlin
Catapult funding is keeping Strathclyde in the space race. Picture: John Devlin

Launched in 2014, the Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications (SoXSA), based at University of Strathclyde, focuses on the use of satellite-derived data to develop new concepts in the exploitation of space to improve life on Earth.

Companies across the UK are increasingly looking to space data to inform their businesses – gaining insights into a wide range of areas including weather, transport networks, flooding, forestry, and even tracking icebergs.

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The programme extension allows SoXSA to continue helping companies to enter the space sector, and to support innovation and the use of satellite applications across industries.

SoXSA is one of five centres established by the Satellite Applications Catapult to create focal points of activity linking the science base with companies both large and small around the UK.

Since its launch, the centre has brokered relationships between academia and industry to win funding for research projects, expanded its network to include the Highlands and Islands, and grown the team from one full-time staff member to four.

Dr Hina Khan, innovation lead at SoXSA, said: “Since its inception, the centre has played an important role supporting the growth of the Scottish space sector and we are incredibly grateful for the extension to our funding.

“Originally the sector in Scotland was relatively fragmented, but SoXSA has since been able to provide a central base for industry and is now seen as the door to the wider industry.

“With increasing numbers of related businesses either setting up or relocating to Glasgow, we’re ideally placed at Strathclyde to help promote the sector to help create jobs, revenue and innovations which could have a huge impact on a variety of industries.”

Stuart Martin, CEO of the Satellite Applications Catapult, said: “The space sector is flourishing in Scotland. A growing number of companies connecting with our Scottish Centre of Excellence are interested in harnessing the potential of space applications or have bold ambitions to create new space-based ventures. The region is attracting international investment from space companies and we are delighted to extend the centre’s funding to enable us to support increased demand for our business support services.”

Scotland is home to a growing number of internationally recognised space companies developing both affordable satellite hardware and the applications that harness the data satellites provide. Around 18 per cent of the UK’s space sector employment – the equivalent of around 7,000 jobs – is now based in Scotland, generating some £131 million in income.

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An industry conference in Glasgow heard in February that the city now builds more satellites than any other European city. At the forefront are companies such as Clyde Space, which in 2014 launched UKube-1, the first satellite to be fully assembled in Scotland.