Lancashire launches new Space Partnership

25 May 2023

A new collaborative partnership involving the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), leading academics, governmental and industry bodies has been launched with a mission to maximise Lancashire’s position as a dynamic hub of future flight, space and satellite innovation.

A line up of professors and partners involved in the space programme, in front of a large screen with the wording 'The Lancashire in Space Partnership'  with the associated partner logos.
UCLan’s Professor Robert Walsh, Lancaster University’s Sharon Lèmac-Vincere, Edge Hill University’s Michael Boyle, Lancashire Space Lead to North West Space Cluster’s Nathan Shoesmith, North West Aerospace Alliance’s Kyle Hatchard and Kerry Harrison, Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub.

The Lancashire in Space Partnership will play a vital role in driving forward the agendas on skills, diversification and innovation to grow the local space economy, while also directly supporting the work of the regional cluster and national space economy.

UCLan will take on a lead role and the new partnership was launched today, 25 May, during a special event at Sci-Tech Daresbury celebrating the one-year anniversary of the launch of the North West Space Cluster.

As a globally significant centre for advanced aerospace and defence engineering, Lancashire has a key role to play in elevating the UK as a global ‘Space Super-Power’.

Many of the county’s businesses and research institutes have capabilities and technologies that can be diversified into both the civil and defence space sectors, opening new markets for Lancastrian businesses. Furthermore, with the establishment of the National Cyber Force at Salmesbury, and in conjunction with its associated local research, commercial, and government partners, Lancashire has the opportunity to position itself as a global player in developing the digital technologies that will secure the ever-growing satellite infrastructure upon which so much of our modern lives depend.

Lancashire partners are already playing a key role in contributing to and growing the UK Space economy, which is nationally now worth £17.5 billion. The launch of the partnership builds on work by Lancashire’s local enterprise partnership over the last year including the launch of a Lancashire space sub-strategy linking into the North West Space Cluster Strategy and the National Space Strategy. This has so far seen work by partners in preparing the current and future workforce through developing skills bootcamps and resources for schools, as well as engaging industry, supporting academic R&D and contributing to the development of major regional initiatives – including around space-based nuclear energy.

Commenting on the launch of the partnership, Alan Cross, North West Space Cluster Development Manager for UKRI-STFC, said: “In the 21st century, space is no longer the exclusive domain of nation-states and mega-corporations. The UK space industry is worth £17.5 billion and employs almost 50,000 people… almost 3,000 of whom are right here in the North West.

“In short; Space means jobs. Space means security. Space means business.

“The communities of Lancashire have much to gain from the novel use of space in their everyday lives; from predictive flood monitoring and wildfire prevention, to improved traffic management and access to public services via universal digital connectivity. The innovative digital businesses of the county are perfectly placed to develop and deliver these critical space-enabled services, delivering economic and societal growth for all.

“Over the past few years, Lancashire has taken many important small steps towards securing its future in Space. Now, with the Lancashire in Space Partnership, it takes one giant leap.”

While working on their own specific space economy projects, partners will be coming together to help drive forward activities in the space economy where there can be wider economic and social benefits for Lancashire and beyond. The partners forming the partnership include UCLan, Lancaster University, Edge Hill University, the North West Aerospace Alliance and the Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub.

Representatives for the partnership engaged with regional and national stakeholders at the event, discussing the range of exciting Space opportunities in Lancashire.

Professor Robert Walsh, academic lead for UCLan’s activities in space, commented: “UCLan is delighted to be playing an important role in developing Lancashire’s engagement in space. Complementing the broad-based research we already undertake in the growing space sector, the University’s support for this partnership demonstrates a focus on tackling the real challenges facing our communities that space can address.”

Nathan Shoesmith, launching the partnership during a presentation to the North West Space Cluster on behalf of the consortium of partners, added: “The launch of the Lancashire in Space Partnership marks an important and exciting moment in Lancashire’s commitment to the Space economy.

“Partnership and collaboration will be crucial to inspiring and preparing the future workforce, engaging businesses and supporting industrial innovation, and successfully driving forward the already fast-growing space and satellite economy for the benefit of everyone.”

The consortium forming the partnership are all actively engaged in Lancashire and North West space economy initiatives and have recently been growing their own contributions to the sector. One of the partners, UCLan was recently named as the UK office for an important United Nations space programme, further demonstrating the growing focus and commitment to the space economy in Lancashire. The UN’s platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) was established in 2006 to ensure that all countries and international and regional organisations are able to access space-based information to support the full disaster management cycle.

The partnership will meet regularly to progress key initiatives, while more public-facing events are also set to take place to engage Lancastrians of all ages in the space economy.


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