With the UK well positioned to take advantage of the growing space industry, Space Hub Yorkshire, is working to bring together the public and private sector and academic organisations to attract Space technology opportunities to the region in order to boost investment and job creation.
Law firm Clarion, which is well versed in market disruption and change dynamics, recently hosted a roundtable event at its offices in Leeds at which Space Hub Yorkshire (SHY) launched its strategy. Leading regional stakeholders heard about the developments in this emerging sector and Mandy Ridyard, chair of SHY, shared the body’s strategy for the region.
Mandy, who is also finance director of West Yorkshire-based precision engineering business Produmax, explained how SHY, supported by the UK Space Agency, was working with businesses, regional Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPS), Yorkshire Universities and research and educational institutions to capitalise on the region’s strengths and assets in the Space sector.
By 2030, the UK space sector is forecast to be worth £40 billion – as well as driving significant investment and job opportunities, Space technology is also expected to bring digital transformation for businesses across many sectors.
Mandy explained: “Although not well known, Yorkshire has a Space heritage – from its history of world-class manufacturing and engineering to the first British female astronaut, Helen Sharman, having hailed from Sheffield. After carrying out an extensive Space cluster mapping exercise across the region, we believe SHY can help to accelerate the development of a thriving, resilient and well-connected ecosystem to ensure Yorkshire can capitalise on the opportunities Space can bring.
“With four LEPs in Yorkshire, 6% of all UK companies and 200k university students, the region is in a strong position to build our capabilities in British Space development. Already, there are over 350 Yorkshire businesses that have been identified as being relevant to the Space industry and there is huge potential for growth. We believe Space technology will act as a catalyst for innovation in business too – our vision is to leverage the region’s space assets and unlock Space for the people and businesses of Yorkshire.”
Other speakers at the event included Colin Baldwin, Head of Local Growth Strategy at UK Space Agency, who discussed how the organisation plans to deliver the Government’s vision to build one of the most innovative and attractive Space economies in the world and its commitment to developing clusters of regional excellence.
Glenn McCauley and Ruth Amey from the University of Leeds highlighted the initiatives that SHY were implementing as part of the development of a virtual Space Campus to improve collaboration between academia, FE Colleges, and the private sector in relation to the innovation and skills agenda.
Finally, Angela Stalker, HR director and colleague Brett Sturrock, Recruitment Manager for Teledyne Technologies, the Shipley-based defence and space business, explained some of the challenges facing the sector, particularly in recruiting specialist engineers. Angela said that working with the region’s universities to develop relevant skillsets, and increasing diversity in the sector, would play a key role going forward.
Clarion director Steve Crow, who chaired the roundtable, commented: “There’s no doubt that the growth of the Space sector represents a huge opportunity for the region. We have a wealth of talent here across our universities, businesses and support bodies and it’s fantastic that an organisation like SHY is leading the charge. By joining forces and collaborating, we will be better placed to take advantage of investment opportunities in areas such as manufacturing, earth observation, internet connectivity, data services, robotics and low-cost access to space.
“A thriving economy needs innovation and we believe that the focus on developing space technology can really help to drive this. SHY will be able to play a vital role in helping businesses navigate their way through and identify both opportunities to support the space initiative, and also ways in which some of these innovations can benefit their own operation.”