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Marking one year as an ESA UK RAP

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Scotland and Northern Ireland have long standing traditions of innovation and have provided the World with some of the most revolutionary inventions, from the television to the telephone and the Large Hadron Collider to Milk Chocolate. The same passion for innovation, creativity, and imagination applied to space has been clear to see in my first year as the ESA RAP (European Space Agency Regional Ambassador Platform) for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Here’s some of my journey so far…


The Network

The UK Ambassador Platform Network is a collection of five (friendly faced) Regional Ambassadors embedded in different host organisations throughout the UK. We work alongside the Ambassador Platform Network Coordinator (aka our fearless leader) and proposal-loving Business Developer.

This unique network is designed to stimulate space-related business development, by linking relevant stakeholder groups and acting as an ‘honest broker’ between ESA, industry and the user community, but in my experience (and not to blow our own trumpets) it provides so much more. The value in the availability of a friendly face, an ear to listen to new ideas and concepts, support to tweak and refine proposals, and a fresh pair of eyes cannot be underestimated. Beyond all of that, it is the true desire of all of the RAPs to see each organisation in their respective region become successful that will support the growth of the space sector in the UK.

ESA Business Applications aims to show that space is open for business and that it has the power to improve our everyday lives on Earth. The programme supports companies to integrate space data and technology to generate new commercial services. The tagline ‘Your Business Powered by Space’ really is true, the programme has supported the development of new services in Aviation, Energy, Health, Transport and Tourism, and everything in between.


Scotland & Northern Ireland

This diversity of interest has been echoed in the region with applications submitted in Environment and land use, Agriculture, Tourism, Sport, Health, Asset tracking, Mining, Smart Cities, and the Circular Economy. All of these contribute to stimulating the UK space sector and enable organisations to grow and scale to generate economic and societal impact in the region and beyond.

This breadth of opportunity has been cultivated by hosting a number of events over the last year, bringing together stakeholders and promoting collaboration between users and service providers and stimulating ideas to address challenge areas. This has included launch events, to provide information on ESA Business Applications and showcase the local networks, in Glasgow and Belfast, sector specific events including ‘Space4Sport’ as well as an APQ in a Day workshop with the ESA Business Applications Business Developer (future dates to come) in addition to supporting Satellite Applications Catapult Satuccino Extra Shot Events in Edinburgh and Belfast.

Many of these events and opportunities have only come to fruition with the support and engagement of SoXSA (the Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications) who have worked tirelessly over the last five years to evangelise and educate about the benefits of satellite data and technology in everyday services. The close working relationship with SoXSA has been key to the success of the ESA RAP in Scotland. This allows contacts to be shared, ideas to be considered and debated and mutual areas of interest identified. It is also critical in providing a support network – team-work makes the dream-work.

The wider innovation network, including other Catapult Centres like Offshore Renewables, Digital and Connected Places, and Innovation Centres in Scotland like The DataLab and CENSIS as well as economic development agencies like Invest Northern Ireland (InvestNI), Scottish Enterprise (SE) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) are also invaluable resources in the region to help drive innovation.


Take home messages

The overwhelming experience to-date has been the willingness of organisations in the region to collaborate and work together towards the common goal of growing the space industry in the UK. The number of great ideas, innovation and imagination in the region is astonishing and I can honestly say I learn something new every day! I have the privilege to work in a region where the people are the greatest asset, where everyone has welcomed the RAP Network with open arms, engaged fully and worked together, even when we have challenged ideas!

Over the next phase I will strive to continue to support the growth of the satellite applications economy in Scotland and Northern Ireland through ESA Business Applications, and support organisations in the region to embrace satellite data to grow their business. If you haven’t engaged already, what are you waiting for? Come on in!

Interested in contacting Pam and finding out more about ESA RAP?  Get in touch below.

Pam Anderson
ESA Business Applications Business Ambassador for Scotland and Northern Ireland
Pam is a Chartered Engineer with a PhD in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from the University of Strathclyde.