Space Technology

Business, Innovation and Skills written question – answered on 18th June 2014.

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Photo of Adam Afriyie Adam Afriyie Chair, Members' Expenses Committee, Chair, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the UK Space Agency in promoting the UK space industry; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of David Willetts David Willetts Minister of State (Universities and Science)

The UK Space Agency (UKSA) was created in April 2011 to lead and foster the growing UK space sector. It does so through funding and delivery of civil space projects and downstream space related activities, developing space policy including advice to Ministers and regulating UK space activities to meet international obligations.

The UKSA formally tests its performance against such objectives in a number ways and includes amongst these a measure of its effectiveness in promoting the UK space industry. This is primarily through an independent bi-annual “Size and Health” survey of the UK industrial sector which assesses the growth of the UK space economy. The agency also monitors contracts that flow back to UK industry from Agency-targeted subscriptions to the European Space Agency as well as monitoring where agency-supported research and development work has positioned UK industry for success in future operational contracts. More recently the agency has extended its role in actively supporting and promoting UK industrial exports of both satellite and emerging space-related data services.

All objective measures from these activities point to a growing success story for our space industry. Indeed it is one of our economy’s fastest growing sectors, with an average growth rate of almost 7.5%, and it has ambitions to increase its annual turnover to £40 billion by 2030. The role of the agency in this development is significant and it has developed close relationships with industry.

The Size and Health survey due to be published in autumn 2014 is expected to show that the space economy has continued to grow between 2011 and 2013.

Its co-ordination of a business-driven industrial space policy has provided leadership for the UK industrial community (acknowledged by the UK space Innovation and Growth Strategy published in 2013) and this has been recognised by the parliamentary Select Committee report into the UKSA which was published in October 2013.

The agency serves as an effective platform to raise awareness of the successes of the UK space sector. BIS and agency officials continue to evaluate its success in promoting that work using Government Communications Service best practice.

A further key measure of success is the increasing number of overseas space companies choosing to invest in the UK and so growing the UK’s wider space capability and economic development.

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