Arc Universities

The UK Science and Innovation Minister George Freeman visited Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire last week (28th September) to launch the National Space Strategy (NSS) from the Harwell Space Cluster. The strategy sets out how to strengthen the UK as a world class space nation by firing up its multibillion-pound space industry.

The Arc hosts a number of universities with highly advanced capabilities in space research and education, as well as links to adjacent drone and aerospace technologies. The economic potential of this cluster is enormous.

The universities, working alongside government, the Satellite Applications Catapult and industry, are using space science to deliver advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and quantum applications. This will create skilled employment in new industries, and opportunities for doctoral and academic research that attract major research funds to the Arc.

For many, the word ‘space’ evokes images of rockets, astronauts and inter-planetary missions.  But space touches our daily lives, and is a vital part of the UK economy, worth more than £16 billion per year – from our satellite navigation systems and the technology that drives our mobile phones, to the entertainment that appears on our screens at home. Space technologies can also achieve much social good, enabling us to monitor food and water security, predict storms and hurricanes, track climate change, and predict extreme weather events. 

In the UK, the space sector employs more than 45,000 people in highly skilled jobs – from space scientists and researchers to engineers and satellite manufacturers. The Government’s National Space Strategy will look to harness these strengths and support British companies to seize future opportunities, with the global space economy projected to grow from an estimated £270 billion in 2019 to £490 billion by 2030.

The Space Strategy sets out the government’s long-term vision for how the UK can establish itself as one of the most attractive space economies in the world, aiming to empower British businesses to innovate and grow by unlocking private finance, while positioning the UK at the forefront of international space research. This includes supporting the first British spaceport satellite launch due in 2022, and leading international space missions that help tackle global challenges such as climate change.

During his visit, the Science Minister visited research institutes and companies at Harwell Campus to find out more about the how the Oxford to Cambridge Arc and Harwell itself is supporting the UK space strategy.

Dr Barbara Ghinelli, who sits on the Arc Economic Working Group and is Director of Harwell Campus Business Development and Clusters, said:

“Harwell Space Cluster has more space companies within walking distance than anywhere else on our planet. A globally unique asset, it showcases the UK’s internationally competitive space technology and expertise to a wide audience. Through its stakeholders and companies it is connected to capability across the UK, linking supply chains to international customers.”

Science and Innovation Minister George Freeman said:

“As we enter an exciting new space age, we have bold ambitions for the UK to be at the vanguard of this industry in our role as a science superpower – whether it’s launching the first satellite from British soil, or leading major international space missions to help combat climate change. Today’s National Space Strategy sets out our vision for ensuring that our thriving space sector lifts off for the long term. It will put rocket boosters under the UK’s most innovative space businesses, ensuring they can unlock private capital and benefit our home-grown space expertise.

Download the Arc Universities Group’s report on how the universities of the Arc are working together and with industry and government, to support the UK space industry.

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