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More jobs created as region’s space sector takes off

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The south west of England’s thriving space sector has given a boost to jobs in the region, according to a new report.

From Bristol to Newquay, the south west is recognising and capitalising upon its space potential.

The South West Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications, supported by the Satellite Applications Catapult and UK Space Agency, is driving growth in the applications sector – with a focus on eHealth & eWellbeing, Marine & Maritime, Mining and Natural Capital.

Building upon this success, last year the UK Space Agency supported a consortium led by the West of England Combined Authority to develop plans for a new space hub for Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

The number of space organisations in the region is up 28%, from 173 to 222 – of those 125 have their headquarters in the region, up from 99. The number of people employed in the South West’s space sector is up 35%, from 1,333 to 1,799, while income from the space sector in the South West is now £231 million.

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:

“With exciting plans for the first satellite launches in 2022, Cornwall is at the heart of the new international space race.

“As we level up Britain, the government is proud to back the many space companies who have made their home in Cornwall – and we’ll deliver the investment, international connections and modern regulations they need to drive sustainable growth in the region.”

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.

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.


For interviews with UK Space Agency representatives please contact or 07925 891 949

The Size and Health of the UK Space Industry report was commission by the UK Space Agency and delivered by The full report is available here:


A more detailed breakdown of the sector includes:

  • Space manufacturing activities, primarily relating to design and manufacture of space technologies such as spacecrafts and launch vehicles, are worth a total of around £2 billion.
  • Space operations, involving the launch and/or operations of satellites/spacecrafts is worth £2.2 billion
  • Space ancillary services, involving specialised space specific support services (e.g. satellite insurance) sit at £514 million
  • Space applications, involving the use of space-enabled data or services still dominate the sector at around £11.7 billion.
  • The Space applications segment is the largest at 71% of income, of which the majority (65%) is generated through Direct-to-Home (DTH) broadcasting. This corresponds to 46% of total sector income.
  • This is followed by Space Operations (5%), Space Manufacturing (12.5%) and Ancillary Services (3.1%).
  • Income related to Location based Signal Service Providers has grown by 115% per annum since 2016/17 and is now worth £578m, up from £125m.
  • Income related to Fixed Satellite Communication Services has grown by 52% per annum since 2016/17 and is now worth £689m, up from £298m.
  • Income related to Suppliers of materials and components has increased at 25% per annum since 2016/17 and is now worth £433m, up from £275m.

Sharon Addinall
ehealth Business Engagement Officer
Sharon has worked within the health sector undertaking administration and management for the majority of her career and prior to joining the Centre, she ran her own business as an Editor for a local magazine.
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