Mission for region to become supply chain leader for global space sector

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Moves to promote Norfolk & Suffolk as a supply chain leader for the global space sector have been explored at an event co-hosted by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Leaders from the industry and academia were among those who took part in the roundtable discussion on Friday 8 July which was hosted by the LEP and Hethel Innovation at Scottow Enterprise Park, part of the LEP’s Space To Innovate Enterprise Zone.

Plans for Norfolk to develop its own spaceport were meanwhile unveiled at an Open Day held by Space-tech startup Gravitilab. The Scottow-based company is developing technologies and services to provide accessible and affordable Research and Testing services that will enable innovation while also reducing the build-up of space debris.

The LEP is leading and coordinating the work around the region’s space industry, and it has set up a steering committee bringing together people to oversee the development of a new regional plan and engage with the UK Space Agency, the European Space Agency and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s Space Directorate.

How the space economy in Norfolk & Suffolk can grow and its importance in relation to agri-food, energy, logistics and transport, marine science and other sectors were among the issues discussed at the roundtable. Paul Febvre, Chief Technology Officer of the Satellite Applications Catapult, and Daniel Smith, CEO of AstroAgency, were among those to take part.

Julian Munson, Head of Enterprise Zones & Innovation at the LEP, said: “The UK’s growing space sector presents exciting opportunities for Norfolk & Suffolk where businesses, education and research institutions are already engaged with the sector. However, there are a range of exciting uses of space technologies that can be promoted far more extensively for the benefit and growth of the whole region, and we need a stronger voice to make that happen.

“New Anglia LEP is leading this work, along with regional partners, producing a draft space sector plan and also forming a space cluster group and identity. We are building strong relationships with the European Space Agency, UK Space Agency and Satellite Applications Catapult to help progress new opportunities in line with the National Space Strategy, launched by the Government in 2021. This will help to identify applications of space and satellite technologies to boost jobs and support diverse sectors such as food and agriculture, offshore wind, coastal and marine science, transport and logistics.

“Meanwhile, our existing technology strengths and innovation assets such as Adastral Park, Norwich Research Park, Hethel Innovation, OrbisEnergy, CEFAS, UEA, University of Suffolk and others, present exciting opportunities for Norfolk & Suffolk to become a UK leader in the supply chain for the global space sector.”

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