Funding has been secured to support the development of a space hub in the West Midlands which will help the economy to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
The new space hub will use Government funding to bring together local authorities, expertise and businesses to create a strategy for how the area can take maximum advantage of the commercial space race.
It will also ensure space is a priority for regional economic growth and attract commercial investment from space companies to the area.
Ministers want to replicate the success of Harwell in Oxfordshire which has – over the last 10 years – established itself as a space hub.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: “This is an immensely exciting avenue to explore, which could potentially create more jobs, improve skills, and boost the West Midlands’ economy.
“Exploration of the global space technology sector is especially welcome at this challenging time as we start plotting our region’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.”
The space hub will be led by a consortium of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), combined authorities, academic institutions, research groups and businesses, who will look at current strengths and set a strategy for how to grow the space sector in their area.
Tim Pile, chair of Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We welcome lift-off for the development of a space hub here in the West Midlands region.
“This is an exciting opportunity to come together to create a strategy to identify industries in our region working in the space sector and to explore new market opportunities. Our purpose at the GBSLEP is to create inclusive, economic growth in partnership with the public, private and academic sectors.
“We have a vast network of supply chains in the region and this first step towards a space hub will also enable us to examine how we can support businesses to contribute to the commercial space age.”
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Dr Chloe Billing from City-REDI, which will lead on establishing the hub, added: “With the increasing number of satellite-enabled applications there has been a marked trend towards greater dependence on space-based capabilities by governments, the public and commercial users.
“This growing dependence means an increased opportunity for new entrants in the global space sector market – including for firms in the West Midlands.”
The UK Space Agency will also support a Space Leadership Forum in the region, bringing together local government, business leaders and academia into a representative body that can drive forward this work and champion the sector.