County to play key role in space economy

The red rose county can play an important role in the rapidly advancing space and satellite sector, according to the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership which hosted a special event on the topic.

The LEP brought together senior figures from the county’s private and public sectors, and national government bodies, to highlight Lancashire’s immense space sector strengths.

These include not only the county’s rich pedigree in the aerospace sector, but also several other key industries – including energy, chemicals, telecoms, electech and cybersecurity – which are all set to play a key role in the space economy.

Lancashire’s university-led R&D capabilities, such as the UCLan’s advanced engineering expertise and Lancaster’s cybersecurity specialisms, combined with assets such as the AMRC North West at Samlesbury, are also seen as having a major role to play as the space sector evolves.

Lancashire-based businesses present included Victrex, BAE Systems, Milliamp, Quantum Base and Adriani. These were joined by representatives of the North West Aerospace Alliance, both East and West Lancashire Chambers of Commerce, the Boost business support service, Lancashire County Council, and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.

Staff from the region’s universities - including leading academics from UCLan, Edge Hill and Lancaster University - were in attendance, as were members of UKSEDs, the national space society for UK students.

National government departments and agencies - such as The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Innovate UK, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), were also there.

Speakers at the event, which was hosted at the Fraser House co-working hub in Lancaster, discussed topics as far ranging as what more needs to be done to make the space sector more accessible and appealing to young people in Lancashire; what are the challenges and opportunities with regard to maximising Lancashire’s potential within the space and satellite market; what are the advantages of the county and North West region working together as a space industry cluster; and what can local businesses do to get more involved in the, regional national and global space sector.

The event also reflected on the recent official launch of the North West Space Cluster, which is being led by the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s offices at Sci-Tech Daresbury, and in which Lancashire played a key role. 

Debbie Francis OBE, chair of the LEP, said: “For areas like Lancashire to maximise the opportunities offered by the emerging space market, and to fully utilise the county’s strengths in sectors like aerospace, engineering, cybersecurity, chemicals, telecoms and energy, we need to collaborate.

“This special LEP event, and the ambitions of the wider North West Space Cluster and growth strategy, is a great example of this partnership approach in action, and we are looking forward to the county playing a key role in the UK’s dynamic and fast-growing space and satellite economy.

"What was also clear from the meeting is that we are still at the early stages of what is set to be a very exciting journey for Lancashire.”