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Harwell Space Cluster


The Harwell Space Cluster forms an integral part of the UK’s Space Sector and has grown into a dynamic ecosystem of 100 space organisations employing over 1,600 people anchored to the Harwell National Science and Innovation Campus. The Campus is committed to fostering multidisciplinary research and innovation, enabled through its unique public and private joint venture partners. Brookfield Asset Management the private side of the partnership, whilst the UK Atomic Energy Authority and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) form the public side.

The gravitational heart of our cluster is one of STFC’s National Laboratories – RAL Space. With more than 60 years of expertise, the lab has helped over 210 instruments into space, through access to its leading facilities, skills and expertise. These continue to grow to service the scaling UK Space Sector, with the new National Satellite Test Facility opening later this year. Key stakeholders include the European Space Agency (ESA) through their European Centre for Satellite Communications and Telecommunications (ECSAT), the ESA Business Incubation Centre which has supported over 100 space start-ups, the Satellite Applications Catapult and the UK Space Agency which now proudly hosts its headquarters here.

Harwell has enabled companies over the last decade to start with a couple of employees in an office to scale in size into their own dedicated building on site. Support for incubation, funding, technical partnerships and expertise offers cluster members a unique place to grow. See our organisations here: https://www.harwellcampus.com/organisations-list/

See the STFC Cluster Strategy, which covers Harwell Space Cluster, here.

Join the Harwell Cluster Group on the Space Enterprise Community platform here.

Key Contacts

Gemma Wilson

Organisation: Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
Role: Harwell Space Cluster Manager

Facilities & Assets

  • RAL Space

  • As an integral part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), RAL Space is the space hub for UK Rese arch and Innovation, supporting its mission to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish.

    Find out more
  • National Satellite Test Facility

  • The NSTF will provide facilities for the assembly, integration and testing of space payloads and satellites. The new facility will enable UK companies to develop the next generation of large, complex spacecraft and test them in the UK. Access to co-located world-class facilities will enable UK industry to bid competitively for more national and international contracts and ensure the UK remains a world-leader in space technologies for decades to come.

    Find out more
  • European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre

  • The ESA Business Incubation Centre United Kingdom (ESA BIC UK) is part of ESA Space Solutions and provides start-ups with technical expertise and facilities, business support, networking, office space and funding needed to overcome innovation challenges and accelerate business growth. Part of ESA’s thriving Europe-wide network of Business Incubation Centres, the ESA BIC UK is managed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and draws on both organisations’ outstanding track record in business incubation – providing a unique environment perfectly engineered to accelerate innovation and unlock commercial potential. Each year we support start-ups working in sectors including aerospace, healthcare, energy, agriculture and digital technology.

    Find out more
  • ESA’s European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT)

  • ECSAT has a focus on collaboration, supporting many cross-directorate activities, contributing strongly to the cooperative ethos at Harwell Campus, and working closely with communities from across ESA’s member states. It is the headquarters of ESA’s Directorate of Connectivity and Secure Communications, and also supports teams working in commercialisation, Earth observation, human and robotic exploration, and space technology, engineering and quality. The site comprises the ECSAT building, named after ESA’s first director general Roy Gibson, the Magali Vaissiere Conference Centre, and several facilities on the surrounding campus.

    SAC also have numerous facilities, including the DISC, Operations Centre, and Antenna Test Ranges.

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  • Satellite Applications Catapult

  • The Satellite Applications Catapult (SAC) is at the heart of the satellite services revolution, driving take-up of space technology and applications to shape, and sustain, the world of tomorrow. Driven by how they can help organisations they work with, both large and small, bring new services to market. By connecting industry and academia they get new research off the ground and into the market more quickly.

    SAC also have numerous facilities, including the DISC, Operations Centre, and Antenna Test Ranges.

    Find out more

Partners & Academic Institutions

  • Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership

  • Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP)  champions Oxfordshire’s economic potential, acting as a catalyst and convener to drive a dynamic, sustainable and growing economy.

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Key Activities and Projects

  • UK Autonomous and Connected Earth Network (UK-ACE network)

  • Harwell Cluster leads a consortium of clusters hosting the Satellite Applications Catapult’s a pilot Connected Capabilities Network: the Autonomous and Connected Earth Network (UK-ACE network) will advance the reach and impact of satellite data and space technology across the UK, emphasising the pivotal roles connectivity and autonomy applications play on Earth. The UK-ACE network will work with stakeholders across space and adjacent sectors by hosting engagement events and activities to help catalyse collaboration and investment opportunities using autonomy and connectivity technologies.

    Find out more

Technical Focus

(Where 0 is no focus/experience and 3 is flagship focus/established experience)

Market Focus

(Where 0 is no focus/experience and 3 is flagship focus/established experience)