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More jobs created as region’s space sector takes off  

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The North East’s thriving space sector has contributed an increase in jobs, according to a new report.

The number of space organisations in the region is up 50%, from 34 to 51, while 28 of those have their headquarters in the area – up from 22. The number of people employed in the space sector in the North East is up 12%, from 907 to 1,014. Income from the North East’s space sector is £88 million.

This step change recognises the important role played by the North East Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications, based at NETPark in Sedgefield, which champions space opportunities in the region and connects businesses with space opportunities, bringing new expertise into the sector. The centre, which is supported by the Satellite Applications Catapult and UK Space Agency, is focused on using satellite applications to create a safer world, addressing challenges including sustainable living and climate change, security of supply chains and resilience in infrastructure and assets,

The findings come from the latest ‘Size and Health of the UK Space Industry’ report, commissioned by the UK Space Agency.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:

“The space industry is at the heart of our plan to level up Britain and bring new, high-tech jobs to the North of England.  As we build back better from the pandemic, the government is working with local and international space companies to deliver the investment, support and skills training that people need to build careers in Britain’s most exciting sector.”

The latest statistics cover 2018/19, compared to the previous survey from 2016/17.

Dr Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: 

“The UK is already a world leader in small satellite technology and applications, telecommunications, robotics and Earth observation, while British universities are some of the best in the world for space science.

“It is fantastic to see our innovative space sector investing in the future through increased commitment to research and development – and to see more and more jobs being created in this exciting industry.”

The statistics show that across the UK:

  • Income has risen from £15.6 billion to £16.4 billion, representing growth of 5.7% (or 2.8% per annum) in real terms
  • Employment is up by 3,200 from 41,900 to 45,100
  • R&D investment now sits at £702m, up 18% and 5 times the national average intensity
  • Gross Value Added is up from £6 billion to £6.6 billion, representing growth of 10.1% (or 5.0% per annum)
  • Over £360 billion worth of wider UK economic activity is now supported by satellites, up from £300 billion

In a boost to the government’s target of investing 2.4% of GDP in research and development by 2027, the survey shows the UK space sector investing increasing sums in new ideas and technologies. R&D spending is up 18% in real terms from £595 million in 2016/17 to £702 million in 2018/19. As a proportion of Gross Value Added (GVA), this is 5 times the national average.

Building on the success in the North East, last year the UK Space Agency funded the University of Leeds and the Science & Technology Facilities Council to lead consortia developing local action plans for new space hubs in Yorkshire and the North West of England.

The UK Space Agency’s Spaceflight Programme aims to establish commercial vertical and horizontal small satellite launch from UK spaceports from 2022, providing a further boost for the sector. Growing the UK’s launch capability will also help bring new jobs and economic benefits to communities and organisations right across the UK, as well as inspiring the next generation of space scientists and engineers.

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said: 

“Today’s findings highlight the exciting growth we’re seeing in the UK space sector, with significant investment and research helping to create thousands of new jobs.

“The UK is leading the way in this field with more companies carrying out space-related activity than ever before. We’ll continue to do everything we can to support this exciting area, as the Government expands its ambitions for spaceflight.”

The space sector also has an exceptionally skilled workforce, with 3 in 4 (77%) employees holding at least a primary degree, while employee productivity remains 2.6 times that of the national average.

For the first time the ‘Size and Health of the UK Space Industry’ looked at the diversity of the industry. More than one in three employees are female.

The UK Space Agency is working to embed space as a fundamental part of the UK economy and society, unlocking new markets and technologies for the benefit of everyone in the UK.

The Size and Health of the UK Space Industry is the UK’s definitive source of information on the UK space sector, based on a survey of UK organisations who supply or use space or satellite services. All 2016/17 values have been adjusted to bring them in line with 2018/19 prices.

Abigail Richman
Marketing Assistant
Abbie has worked in marketing for a number of years in a variety of different sectors and joins the team relatively new to the space sector.