The UK space sector is not just about rockets and astronauts but about how it impacts our daily lives. The role of the Technology Strategy Board is two-fold in the space sector.
The first is to broker the relationships between non-space and space sectors to understand both the capabilities and limitations of using data or technology from the space sector.
We are often unaware of our dependence on satellites and so our innovators are often unaware of the breadth and richness of data that could be achieved by using satellite-derived data or services.
The second challenge is about how to unlock and grow the commercial space industry within the UK. By their very nature satellites are global in their coverage, reach and impact so we must always work toward international opportunities.
It is the very global nature of satellite data that is both a barrier and an opportunity. If you can solve a challenge with satellite data in the UK you can probably use the same infrastructure anywhere in the world. This negates the cost barrier to commercial exploitation once a service is successful, but provides an obstacle for demonstration or start-up purposes.
This high cost barrier also triggers other barrier effects, such as being able to demonstrate that a technology works in a space environment. Customers expect "flight heritage" for component parts of satellites so being able to demonstrate that hardware is fit for purpose is very important.
As the UK's innovation agency the Technology Strategy Board recognises that innovation in the space sector through the advancement of space technologies and capabilities has wider commercial benefits for many other businesses and sectors. In the past decade the UK's space sector has grown by nearly 10% each year and according to the National Space Technology Steering Group revenues in this sector could reach £40bn per year by 2030.
In terms of the national programmes in support of these goals we offer a range of application and technology transfer opportunities, often in partnership with other government bodies.
We also provide a demonstration capability in the form of our TechDemoSat programme
, run in collaboration with the UK Space Agency and the Satellite Applications Catapult centre
. We can provide an in orbit demonstration platform to fly new technologies, instruments and to demonstrate the next generation of services derived from satellite data.
Alongside the financial aspect of our support within the space technology industry, through CRD competitions, is the equally important element of the networking opportunities we provide. In focusing our support on the impact that space technology has on everyday life we are working with a diverse range of businesses and organisations that see space technology as a facilitator or foundation to help grow or develop their business.
As such we deal with many cross functional consortia and groups that have come together with the common purpose of exploiting space technology for commercial gain.
Through this vast network of connections we are able to bring companies together and expose them to new opportunities and potential partnerships that might not otherwise have occurred.
This network has also positioned the Technology Strategy Board to appoint a cross cutting or Special Interest KTN group
for the space sector. This forum has facilitated the development of a "National Space Technology Strategy" and supporting roadmaps, which have been endorsed by the Space Leadership Council, a body providing cross government and sector guidance in the space sector.
This strategy not only provides focus to the Technology Strategy Board but is a National Strategy used by the UK Space Agency and as a reference by external bodies such as the ESA and the EC.
The Technology Strategy Board also provides the National Contact Point (NCP) for the space sector with the European Commission for Framework 7 and Horizon2020 work.
One of our main aims is to promote UK businesses operating in growing commercial sectors. In this arena we work closely with the UK Space Agency
to enable the development, commercialisation and exploitation of space technologies. We support businesses that have the potential to be world leaders and where economic growth and continued success can contribute to the sustainable long term economy of the UK.
Currently the space sector contributes £7.5bn a year to the UK economy, directly employs 24,900 people and supports a further 60,000 jobs across a variety of industries.
As part of our service level agreement
with the UK Space Agency the Technology Strategy Board will be the main delivery partner for telecommunications and navigation programmes, including those run by ESA (European Space Agency). This includes sending national delegates to the steering boards of both these programmes. In addition we:
Promote business opportunities for the UK Space industry across other growth sectors
Provide Technology Demonstration opportunities
Use and promote knowledge transfer to drive growth
Encourage and facilitate open Innovation to accelerate commercialisation
In addition we use other business support mechanisms which are designed to increase collaboration and knowledge sharing within and between the space sector:
We work alongside the European Space Agency
(ESA), promoting UK business within a wider platform in the areas of telecommunications and satellite navigations systems.
The ESA exists to shape the development of Europe's space capability and ensure that investment in space technology continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, we can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.
The UK is a major contributor to the ESA ARTES telecommunication programme and the EGEP Navigation programme
which plays a key role in the development of satellite technologies in the UK and Europe as a whole.
For UK businesses, ESA offers a double advantage – it not only enables them to join forces with European counterparts on an international scale against bigger industrial single nations such as China or the USA but secondly ESA acts as a valuable source of expertise and knowledge.
Space applications action plan 2013-14