The UK Space Agency has launched a new “space for business” programme designed to make it easier for British companies to access satellite data. The 18-month project will focus on providing information for the transport, logistics and financial services sectors.
Much of what will be offered to companies will come from satellite imagery that could be used to verify insurance claims after extreme weather events, satellite navigation to support location tracking and connectivity to help passengers contact family while at sea.
The UK space sector grew 5.1% to £17.5bn between 2020 and 2021, outpacing the global space industry and the wider UK industry. The global space economy is valued at between £155bn and £190bn, with an estimated £400bn value by 2030. The UK Space Agency says this activity contributes £370bn to the UK economy through data.
The UK government hopes to capitalise on this economic growth, making it easier for British companies to utilise the wealth of data from orbital devices monitoring the Earth. The cost of putting satellites into space is falling, in part due to companies like SpaceX reusing rockets, and satellites themselves getting smaller and able to carry more equipment.
‘Unlocking Space for Business’ includes a series of workshops, networking events, learning and development sessions and online resources to support companies in understanding what satellite data is available and how to use it. Up to £6m funding from the UK Space Agency is also being made available for pilot projects and data procurement.
Dr Paul Bate, CEO of the UK Space Agency, said the programme will champion the use of space and help tackle barriers facing organisations that have not traditionally used satellite data or services. He said it would “help catalyse further investment into our growing space sector and deliver greater benefits for businesses, people, and the environment.”
It is part of the wider National Space Strategy launched last year aimed at growing the UK space sector, including launching rockets from Scotland and building on the existing small satellite manufacturing base. “Satellite data and services have the ability to unlock and deliver new revenue growth opportunities, operational efficiencies, improved customer experiences and ESG benefits for organisations,” Bate said.
As part of the programme, the space agency will help enterprise organisations connect with leading data suppliers, technology integrators and insight providers. Lucy Edge, acting CEO at the Satellite Applications Catapult, said key players across the industry will be linked to end users to make it easier to access business-critical data.
“Satellite services drive innovation in all businesses and will boost the bottom line. By building up these partnerships and support systems, we aim to accelerate the adoption of satellite solutions across the private sector,” she said.