Funding secured to develop new Midlands space cluster

Regional stakeholders have secured a share of £6.5 million awarded by the UK Space Agency to help drive forward the Midlands space industry and develop a space cluster in the region.

The money will be allocated to three members of the Midlands Innovation Space Group: University of Leicester, University of Birmingham, University of Nottingham, Midlands Aerospace Alliance and the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC).

The stakeholders will work to deliver locally led initiatives that will help the space sector grow by leveraging collective research and innovation capabilities.

University of Leicester, which helps lead the award-winning Space Park Leicester – the world’s first science and innovation park specifically designed for space-related companies and researchers – will receive £284,000 to fund a Cluster Development Manager.

This role will work with local government, businesses and academia, over three years, to coordinate space activity and encourage collaboration and inward investment in the Midlands.

£500,000 will go towards the Midlands Aerospace Alliance’s Pivot into Space R&D programme.

Professor Martin Barstow, Chair of Midlands Innovation Space Group and Space Park Leicester Director of Strategic Partnerships, said: “We are pleased that the UKSA recognises the importance of the Midlands to the space economy and the contribution from Space Park Leicester and our Midlands Innovation Space Group.

“In collaboration with the Midlands Aerospace Alliance, the funding will allow us to coordinate the growing cluster activities in the East and West Midlands and bring them together under a single umbrella.”

“The Midlands Innovation Space Group forms one of the largest collections of space expertise in the world, combining 900 academic, research and technical staff within the Midlands, this funding allows us to further leverage our expertise in this area.”

The experienced astrophysicist and space scientist added: “Space Park Leicester has already established a strong cluster in the East of the region, and we know there is growing activity in the West. Bringing these activities together will increase the strength of the space economy in the region as a whole.

“The cluster manager funding will be complemented by the MAA’s Pivot into Space R&D programme, which provides direct support to space businesses across the region.”

Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “Establishing a network of space clusters and high impact projects will accelerate the development of the thriving space ecosystem the UK needs to realise the full economic potential of space across the UK.

“We’ve been working with the regions to understand their strengths and the needs of their local space economies so that we can back these clusters of excellence to collaborate, grow and thrive.”

The projects are focused on piloting local activity that could be scaled up and rolled out nationally and are being supported by the UK Space Agency’s delivery partner, the Satellite Applications Catapult.

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