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Region’s businesses, local authorities, universities and public agencies meet with national government agencies to discuss county’s dynamic space sector offer.

The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is calling on the county’s businesses, local authorities, universities and skills providers to back its vision of Lancashire as a leader in the fast-growing space and satellite industry.

It follows a special LEP event hosted yesterday (Thursday June 23rd) which brought together senior figures from the county’s private and public sectors, and national government bodies, to highlight Lancashire’s immense space sector strengths. These include not only the county’s rich pedigree in the aerospace sector, but also several other key industries – including energy, chemicals, telecoms, electech and cybersecurity – which are all set to play a key role in the space economy.

Lancashire’s university-led R&D capabilities, such as the UCLan’s advanced engineering expertise and Lancaster’s cybersecurity specialisms, combined with assets such as the AMRC North West at Samlesbury, are also seen as having a major role to play as the space sector evolves.

Lancashire-based businesses present included Victrex, BAE Systems, Milliamp, Quantum Base and Adriani. These were joined by representatives of the North West Aerospace Alliance, both East and West Lancashire Chambers of Commerce, the Boost business support service, Lancashire County Council, and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.

Staff from the region’s universities – including leading academics from UCLan, Edge Hill and Lancaster University – were in attendance, as were members of UKSEDs, the national space society for UK students.

National government departments and agencies – such as The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Innovate UK, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), were also there.

The evening event, which was held at the Fraser House co-working hub in Lancaster and facilitated by the LEP’s Nathan Shoesmith, saw a wide range of expert speakers presenting the many commercial opportunities which the space and satellite market offered Lancashire, and the challenges which lay ahead.

Spokespeople included Alan Cross, the European Space Agency’s North West Ambassador; Alun Williams, BEIS’ Engagement Lead for Space Investment Policy; Drs Matthew Dickinson and Joanne Pledger from UCLan (academic leads for Mechatronics and Astrophysics respectively); and Andrew Schofield, Technology Delivery Director, BAE Systems.

In addition there were presentations and contributions from Matt Wright, Innovation Lead for the Lancashire LEP; Paula Gill, CEO of the North West Aerospace Alliance; Isaac Caletrio from UKSEDS; Nicola Mortimer, Operations Director, Milliamp; and Professor Rob Young, CTO, from quantum security specialists, Quantum Base.

Speakers discussed topics as far ranging as what more needs to be done to make the space sector more accessible and appealing to young people in Lancashire; what are the challenges and opportunities with regard to maximising Lancashire’s potential within the space and satellite market; what are the advantages of the county and North West region working together as a space industry cluster; and what can local businesses do to get more involved in the regional, national and global space sector.

The event also reflected on the recent official launch of the North West Space Cluster. Hosted at Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) headquarters at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire, this high profile industry gathering attracted hundreds of business leaders, academics and policy leaders drawn from across the county. It’s purpose was to showcase the North West region’s collective space and satellite strengths, and to set out the government’s North West Space Cluster Strategy for the region.

The North West Space Cluster Strategy – which is being led by the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s offices at Sci-Tech Daresbury – aims to drive collaboration and competition; enable the promotion of the region’s space capabilities; export the north west’s business and space strengths nationally and internationally; evolve the regional space economy to drive productivity and increased investment; and embed the opportunities presented by space within local communities.

Lancashire played a key role in the launch of the North West Space Cluster, with Greg Goodall from Kirkham’s AWOL Video, Rich Grant from Milliamp, and Chris Mayne from Forsberg Services – together with UCLan’s Professor of Solar Physics, Robert Walsh – all making presentations on the day. Businesses, universities and other stakeholders from across Lancashire were also widely consulted on the North West Space Cluster Strategy prior to publication.

Debbie Francis OBE, Chair of the LEP, said: “For areas like Lancashire to maximise the opportunities offered by the emerging space market, and to fully utilise the county’s strengths in sectors like aerospace, engineering, cybersecurity, chemicals, telecoms and energy, we need to collaborate.

“This special LEP event, and the ambitions of the wider North West Space Cluster and growth strategy, is a great example of this partnership approach in action, and we are looking forward to the county playing a key role in the UK’s dynamic and fast-growing space and satellite economy.

“What was also clear from the meeting is that we are still at the early stages of what is set to be a very exciting journey for Lancashire.”

To read the full North West Space Cluster Strategy, click here.

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