Moving into space

The UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills has launched a group to address the challenges and opportunities facing the space industry.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has launched a group to address the challenges and opportunities facing the space industry.

The Innovation and Growth Team (IGT) has been set up to develop a 20-year strategy to improve UK competitiveness in space. The group will be chaired by Andy Green, Logica chief executive.

Currently, the space sector is worth approximately £7bn per year to the UK economy and supports 70,000 jobs. The IGT expects to increase this figure by outlining plans that will benefit corresponding industries such as telecoms, climate change and satellite navigation markets.

The group will also attempt to create a ‘space aware’ culture in the UK with a more structured career path for students who wish to enter the industry. The government hopes that this will improve manufacturing and skills in the country – a strategy outlined in its New Industry New Jobs report.

Green said: ‘Space is one of the few sectors in the UK economy that is enjoying almost double-digit growth and has the potential to do so for decades to come. We will set out ways to help the sector on its upwards trajectory, by ensuring that Britain has the necessary skills and policy framework, and a climate that fosters innovation.’

Ian Gooden, chief executive at the Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC), said: ‘We warmly welcome the establishment of the Space IGT and the recognition by the government of the importance of the space industry in Britain, which is a hidden success story for the UK.

‘We are a world-leading equipment and service provider for the space industry in a highly competitive global marketplace. However, this sector is due to grow tremendously over the coming years and if we are not to be left behind then we need to prepare for our future today.’

The IGT is expected to announce initial findings at the end of the year, with the full report to be published in 2010.