Leicester is in the top 10% of UK areas in most need of levelling up, as published in its 2022 Mercury report. Despite this, Leicester has shown strong potential to grow its satellite data services and to exploit the opportunity of rapid satellite manufacturing, to boost local growth and create highly skilled jobs in the region.
As part of their commitment to ‘Innovate for a better world, empowered by space’, the Satellite Applications Catapult in partnership with the University of Leicester, local businesses, and regional stakeholders, are working to position Leicester at the leading edge of space technology commercialisation through a new initiative, the ‘Space Park Leicester’.
The Satellite Applications Catapult launched their new hub situated at the Space Park in 2021, contributing to a vibrant cluster community which includes scientists, students, technicians, engineers, and businesses. This base is bringing new life to Leicester, stimulating creative talent, knowledge sharing, building new capability, and invigorating the development of diverse technical skills. Crucially, the presence of Satellite Applications Catapult at the Space Park ensures that the cutting-edge research coming out of the University of Leicester is quickly translated, proven and developed, leading to fast commercialisation and adoption. This end-to-end process lays the groundwork for innovation to flourish within the region, benefitting local businesses and communities, and ultimately, prosperity in the nation.
As expert specialists in their fields, the Satellite Applications Catapult have also announced the generation of a unique Space Commercialisation Engine programme. This national initiative provides entrepreneurs and companies with the launchpad to test and scale their Earth Observation (EO) technologies using state-of-the-art facilities and accelerating early stage concepts towards reality – and beyond. EO technology is widely transferable to many sectors; businesses without a direct connection to space can also take advantage of this applied science.
Local SMEs are also benefitting from ample support available through the cluster, to help boost their business strategies through innovation, from design and technology development, throughout commercialisation and Low Cost Access to Space on-site for the manufacture of mid-range satellites.
Space clusters continue to become more established in the United Kingdom and are recognised a vital cog in delivery of the National Space Strategy commitment to ‘Grow and level up the UK space economy’. The Satellite Applications Catapult has large experience of stimulating similar growth through their Disruptive Innovation for Space Centre sites at Harwell and Westcott. The Catapult now plans to expand Leicester’s existing capabilities to include the Space Park’s first manufacturing base, significantly boosting Leicester’s national profile.