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SEEDA helps provide Launch Pad For Growth

24 March 2010

A new International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC) at Harwell is to receive £6m from the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), demonstrating the Regional Development Agency’s commitment to growing the space sector within the South East.

The Centre will provide a hub for British space activity and ensure that the South East plays a key role in ensuring that the UK maintains its world-leading space capability. 

Pam Alexander, Chief Executive at SEEDA, comments: "The space industry is growing three times faster than the rest of the economy and will make a major contribution to the UK’s future economic success. The sector is already growing strongly in the South East and London, delivering high-quality, hi-tech jobs in telecommunications, security and navigational systems.”

Harwell is expected to create around 1000 jobs over the next five years, of which 700 will be new, and will help position the UK as one of the world’s leading space nations. The space sector has grown by around 9% each year since 1999 and currently contributes around £6.5bn at year to UK GDP. The UK currently has a 6% share of the global space sector with just over 50% space-related industry concentrated in the South East and London.

Pam adds: “The new funding for the International Space Innovation Centre confirms Harwell's position as a centre of excellence and builds on SEEDA’s work to harness the potential of space. The UK is firmly on the global map in this internationally competitive industry."

SEEDA funding will be invested in a collaborative R&D programme, which will encourage businesses to share world-class knowledge and drive innovation through the creation of new products and services.

ISIC will link existing pockets of UK industry expertise, academia and government, and provide a greater platform for business growth. It will conduct research, provide a business incubation facility and promote innovation and commercialism.

Leading space scientists at the University of Surrey have welcomed the government’s announcement to establish a UK Space Agency and strive for a 20 year vision for the industry which will help jobs and the economy.

The Surrey Space Centre (SSC) at the University of Surrey is the UK’s largest space engineering academic training and research centre.

Dr Craig Underwood, deputy director of the SSC, says: “We welcome the formation of a UK Space Agency. The new Space Agency should give the UK the kind of ‘joined-up’ thinking in space which has benefited our European partners for so long. We look forward to working with the Space Agency and the ISIC hub at Harwell to realise this vision.”

Projects earmarked for development include developing the ability to monitor the quality of air from space, climate change research and coastal environmental monitoring.

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