Scottish centre to bring space technologies down to earth


A new centre that will enable businesses to tap in to the UK’s multi-billion pound space sector is to be launched at the University of Strathclyde.

The Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications is one of three hubs being developed by the Satellite Applications Catapult, part of the UK’s network of technology and innovation companies, to drive economic growth in key sectors.

The centre will consolidate links between the science knowledge base and the business community, enabling companies to use satellite data in new ways, from supporting the energy industry to planning future cities.

The University was chosen to host the centre after an open selection process attracted more than a dozen proposals.

Sir Jim Mcdonald
Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde


Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde, said: 

“Scotland’s space sector is already driving the development of new technologies through leading-edge research and technology-driven companies. The challenge now is to bring universities, businesses and space agencies together to enable the sector to reach its full potential.

“The new Centre of Excellence will play an important role in helping companies to identify where satellite data can assist them in new and exciting ways, from measuring wind speeds from space to determine optimum locations for offshore wind farms, to using satellite navigation for integrated transport systems in future ‘smart cities’.

“This announcement reflects the world-leading space research that exists in Strathclyde, our partner universities and technology companies.”

The space industries in the UK have a 40% share of the global small satellite market, and currently contribute around £8.2 billion to the economy – a rise of 16% since 2009.

The University of Strathclyde-based centre will work alongside Centres of Excellence hosted by Business Durham and the University of Leicester, and will bring together expertise from other Scottish institutions including the UK Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh, the Universities of Edinburgh and Dundee and companies such as Clyde Space Ltd, along with Scottish Enterprise.

Stuart Martin, CEO of the Catapult, said:

“These Centres of Excellence are an essential part of our national engagement strategy and will help us deliver our core objective: to help foster growth across the UK economy through the exploitation of space.

“Our central location in Harwell, with its unique concentration of space and other high-tech organisations, provides access to a wealth of expertise and facilities. Now, these Centres of Excellence will extend our reach throughout the UK, helping us support the national objective to capture a 10% share of the global space market by 2030.”

The University of Strathclyde – named Entrepreneurial University of the Year 2012/13 by the Times Higher Education – is already involved in three of the UK’s Catapult Centres, in Offshore Renewable Energy, High Value Manufacturing, and FutureCities. A recent independent report found the University’s partnerships with business and industry will offer a £1.4 billion boost to the Scottish and global economy over the next 10 years.

The new Centre of Excellence will commence activities from April 2014 with an agreed plan of actions, activities and events. It will work side-by-side with the University’s existing space centres, which together form the Strathclyde Space Institute, including:

  • The Advanced Space Concepts Laboratory, an award-winning research group undertaking frontier research on visionary space systems
  • The Centre for Future Air-Space Transportation Technology, which is investigating the technology required for future high-speed air travel and access-to-space systems to become a reality
  • The Space Mechatronic Systems Technology Laboratory, which advances research in space-related robotics technology and systems development
  • The Centre for Space Science and Applications, which works on a broad range of space physics problems
  • The Scottish Space School, which aims to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers by highlighting the career opportunities available to young people.

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