Space Technology

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills written question – answered on 23rd June 2015.

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Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Conservative, Ribble Valley

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what steps his Department is taking to promote the space industry.

Photo of Jo Johnson Jo Johnson Minister of State (Universities and Science)

My Department promotes the space industry though the UK Space Agency. It invested £300 million in the space sector last year through its membership of ESA (European Space Agency) and a further £60 million through national space programmes. This investment is used to support crucial commercial investment in technology research and to fund instrumentation for key scientific missions. The Agency also has an education and skills programme that promotes training and apprenticeships, to ensure companies can access skilled space employees. It uses space to inspire young people to pursue STEM careers.

To ensure that the UK capitalises upon new space-based business opportunities, the UK Space Agency is working closely with colleagues in 12 other central government departments, 13 government agencies and the Devolved Administrations. Its programme raises awareness of the growth potential of the space sector, and identifies specific opportunities that complement existing local plans and investments. We are also actively exploring new opportunities that may arise through devolution. In particular, the Agency is supporting the development of clusters of local business and academia through strong links back to the expertise at the UK Space Gateway in Harwell.

We are working in partnership with industry and UKTI to promote the sector to an international audience. In 2014 the UK Space Agency coordinated contributions from 20 companies, including 5 SMEs, in the Space Zone at the Farnborough International Airshow.

We also promote space as a real inspiration to the next generation of scientists and engineers. In May this year, the UK Space Agency appeared at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where it launched British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s Rocket Science project. This project aims to turn 100,000 school children into space biologists. The event attracted 160,000 visitors. This forms part of our work to demonstrate the educational value of Tim Peake’s mission to the International Space Station later this year and the ways in which the science and technology of space has a role in our everyday lives.

This underpinning work in promotion of the sector recognises that real growth is best led by the space sector itself which is why this Government has signed up to ambitious growth targets set in the UK space industry Innovation and Growth Strategy (IGS).

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