Glasgow’s space sector blasts off

The funding from the UK Space Agency will be used by Glasgow City Council and the University of Strathclyde’s Scottish Centre for Satellite Applications (SoXSA) to bring young companies – and those looking to scale-up – to The Tontine, an innovation hub in Glasgow’s Merchant City.

The partnership will give Scotland an even greater share of the UK space industry, which generates a total annual turnover of more than £11 billion. Around 18% of the UK’s space sector employment – the equivalent of around 7,000 jobs – is now based in Scotland, with successful space companies from around the world choosing to base themselves in Glasgow.

The news is also a welcome boost for Scotland’s first Innovation District, in the heart of the city.

Councillor Frank McAveety, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “I am thrilled by this news: it is another coup for The Tontine, which will provide a perfect environment for young and growing companies in the space sector.  Attracting such companies is great for the innovation clusters developing in Glasgow, underlining our growing status as a home for advanced industries and technologies, so critical to our long-term success.  This is a fantastic day for the city and our economy, and the result of the hard work of the council and our partners.”

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde, which is leading the partnership, said: “This investment from the UK Space Agency underlines the city of Glasgow’s international reputation as a thriving hub for businesses in the space sector, which play a vital role in the growth and advancement of the industry globally.  As an entrepreneurial university and home to one of Europe’s largest space engineering research groups, it’s fitting that we work with Glasgow City Council to attract more innovative companies to the heart of our city – and to Scotland’s first Innovation District.  The strong links between the University, the space sector and government have fostered an environment where disruptive space technologies and satellite applications are being created – benefiting a wide range of sectors, companies and the economy as a whole.”

Helen Roberts, Regional Growth Manager at the UK Space Agency, said: “We are delighted to extend the network of incubators supporting space sector start-ups to cover even more of the UK. These new business incubators add to the existing network of SETsquared, Leicester Dock, UNIP in Nottingham, Loughborough University, Business Durham, Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) at its Daresbury Laboratory site, Glyndwr Innovations in St Asaph, North Wales and the European Space Agency’s business incubator at Harwell. We look forward to working with them and seeing them help exciting new businesses to develop and flourish.”

The funding was awarded after Glasgow City Council and the University of Strathclyde approached the UK Space Agency for £50,000 of incubation funding to bring innovative companies to the city centre. Six companies will be located at The Tontine, and will receive business support specific to the space sector, accommodation and administration costs covered for two years, and dedicated workshops and expertise.

The Tontine was the first project to be funded through the £1.13 billion Glasgow City Region City Deal, and is expected to inject £53.6 million in to the economy of the region. It will support and sustain the development of high-growth companies in the enabling technologies, advanced design and manufacturing, and creative economy sectors.

Together with the University of Strathclyde’s £89 million Technology and Innovation Centre, and Scottish Enterprise’s Innovo building, it forms part of the Innovation District in Glasgow’s Merchant City. The District will provide a strong foundation for the creation and expansion of innovative firms and jobs by helping companies, entrepreneurs, universities, researchers and investors – across sectors and disciplines – develop new technologies and discoveries for the market.

The space hub at the Tontine will join a UK-wide network of space incubators, which will support the UK’s ambitious plans to achieve 10% of the global space market by 2030.