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Unlocking the Potential: Shaping the Future of the UK Space Sector

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space sector

Ben Walker

Account Executive, JBP Associates

Ben Walker discusses a roundtable which focused on the future potential of the UK space sector.

Independent policy institute, Curia, and strategic communications specialists, JBP Associates, organised a roundtable chaired by UK Government Space Champion, David Morris MP, with government and space industry leaders from across the UK to consider a comprehensive plan to unlock the potential of the UK space sector.

The Space Sector

The UK space sector is poised for tremendous growth and has been identified as a crucial component of the country’s future economy. With the industry already supporting over 126,000 jobs and generating £17.5 billion in income, the potential for further expansion is enormous. However, the sector faces significant challenges that must be addressed to prevent the UK from falling behind in the global space race. In a roundtable organised by independent policy institute Curia, in partnership with strategic communications specialists and chaired by UK space champion David Morris MP, key industry players and thought leaders discussed these challenges and provided valuable insights and recommendations for the future of the UK space sector.

Realising the Potential

According to last year’s National Space Strategy policy paper, the global space industry is projected to grow from £270 billion in 2019 to £490 billion by 2030. The UK has the opportunity to nearly double its share of the global space market to £30 billion by 2030 but this requires strategic actions and collaborative efforts. The roundtable participants identified three key areas that need attention: the skills gap, administrative clarity on space, and increased investment in research and development.

Addressing the Skills Gap

One of the primary challenges facing the UK space sector is the shortage of skilled professionals. To overcome this, participants stressed the need to integrate space education into the early-stage curriculum, encouraging young people to pursue careers in space-related fields. By nurturing talent from a young age, the UK can ensure a steady supply of skilled individuals to meet the industry’s growing demands.

Administrative Clarity on Space

The lack of administrative clarity surrounding space activities has been a hindrance to the UK space industry. Clear regulations, streamlined processes, and a comprehensive framework are essential to foster a supportive environment for commercial companies, institutions, and universities. The roundtable participants highlighted the importance of establishing space infrastructure as essential national infrastructure, facilitating growth and innovation in the sector.

Increased Investment and Research Development

While the UK space sector has seen significant growth, continued investment and R&D are vital to its long-term success. Participants called for increased government accountability and a revamp of HM Treasury processes to prioritise funding for space initiatives. A funded ten-year plan, with a focus on specific programs such as Copernicus or GNSS, as well as lunar exploration and space-based solar power, would provide the necessary strategic direction for the sector.

To fully unlock the potential of the UK space sector, participants stressed the need for a comprehensive national campaign to raise awareness about the importance of space. This campaign should be supported by the appointment of a dedicated space minister who can drive space-related initiatives and advocate for the sector’s needs. Furthermore, integrating space risks into the national risk register would ensure a holistic approach to space activities and their potential impacts.

A Comprehensive Implementation Plan

The roundtable discussion highlighted the need for a comprehensive implementation plan that addresses the sector’s challenges in a coordinated and timely manner. The insights and recommendations from the roundtable can serve as a resource for all stakeholders involved in shaping future government policy positions. By acting promptly and incorporating these suggestions into policy-making processes, the UK Government can establish a solid foundation for a thriving space industry, fostering innovation and securing the country’s position in the global space arena.

Final Thought

The future of the UK space sector holds immense promise but it requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders to overcome the challenges at hand. The insights and recommendations from the roundtable organized by Curia, in partnership with JBP Associates, provide a roadmap for shaping a comprehensive development program. By prioritising skills development, establishing administrative clarity and increasing investment in research and development, the UK can position itself as a global leader.

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