Why Space? The Opportunity for Material Science and Innovation

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UK researchers and innovators – from both academia and industry – are invited to contribute to a new publication on material science and innovation, reflecting on what opportunities they see for research and innovation, utilising in-space manufacturing and microgravity conditions for discovery research and/or terrestrial benefit.

Building on the announcement of the Business in Space Growth Network (BSGN) Advanced Materials Accelerator last week, and the UK’s leading expertise in material science, manufacturing, and R&D, there exists a strong basis for proposing the related development of a materials science and innovation position paper.

The Satellite Applications Catapult is proud to be leading the first phase of this new market stimulation programme – the BSGN Advanced Materials Accelerator – to promote opportunities for engineering novel materials in microgravity, and to be part of and supporting the working group for this new position paper.

Initiated from two online workshops run in September 2021, attended by a cross-section of UK academia, industry, and government, a consensus emerged that there was a need to engage directly with space sector experts, across a range of sub-disciplines, to collectively articulate the opportunities for the sector; from development of new novel materials for use in space, to understanding fundamental processes which could support terrestrial developments.

Following these workshops, a working group has come together to develop a skeletal draft of the paper, the working group members* include:

  • Professor Ian Hamerton – University of Bristol
  • Professor Marcello Lappa – University of Strathclyde
  • Associate Professor Andrew Kao – University of Greenwich
  • Peter C E Roberts – University of Manchester
  • Philip Carvil – Science and Technology Facilities Council | UK Research and Innovation
  • Hamid Soorghali – Satellite Applications Catapult

The completed publication will both educate funders as to the comprehensive opportunity for discovery and applied level research through involvement with space, as well as support the exploration by leaders from industry, to better understand the possibilities for new innovation pipelines and underlying considerations.

Dr. Phil Carvil, Cluster Development Manager at the Science and Technology Facilities Council said:

The publication of the UK’s national space strategy last year outlined the governments ambition to harness the UK’s exiting strengths and capabilities, to unlock the growth in the UK space sector and support innovators and business to seize future opportunities with space. With the global space economy projected to grow to £490 billion by 2030, this will require a drive to inform and support not only existing space players but also other markets on the opportunity of space for innovation and growth. Materials science and Innovation is a leading global strength of the UK’s, following the announcement of the UK leading the Business in Space Growth Network (BSGN) Advanced Materials Accelerator, it is critical that a position paper be developed to capture the thoughts of the material community on the current and future opportunity for innovation with space.”

Find out more and apply for the Open Call here >>

*Please note affiliations listed do not necessarily indicate an endorsement of the paper by the respective institutions

For more information contact:

Dr. Phil Carvil, Cluster Development Manager, Science and Technology Facilities Council | UK Research & Innovation, philip.carvil@stfc.ac.uk

Hamid Soorghali, Business Strategy Consultant, and Advanced Materials Accelerator Programme Lead, Satellite Applications Catapult, hamid.soorghali@sa.catapult.org.uk | 07384834543