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Could Edinburgh Become the ‘Space Data Capital’ of Europe?

Ross Kelly

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Edinburgh Space Sector
The space sector is estimated to be worth £4bn to Scotland by 2030 and could create up to 30,000 jobs.

A new animated video showcasing space sector innovation going on in Edinburgh launched this week as the city looks to spark greater interest.

The animation, created by communications agency Connect on behalf of the Data-Driven Innovation initiative, aims to illustrate the breadth of opportunities in Edinburgh and highlight the strength of the nation’s space sector, which is growing at an impressive rate.

According to Richie Somerville, Head of Strategy for the University of Edinburgh’s Data-Driven Innovation initiative, the animation forms part of an effort to raise increased awareness of the space sector and showcase Edinburgh’s potential to be the ‘space data capital’ of Europe.

“So many people still don’t know Scotland has a thriving space ecosystem – let alone the huge part Edinburgh plays in it,” he said.

Space and Satellites‘ is one of the ten core sectors earmarked by the Data-Driven Innovation initiative, which is supported through the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

“The range of activity across the capital and its region is just astonishing,” Somerville said. “From intercepting comets as they enter the solar system, to designing satellite components and robots to analysing big data from satellites to help save rainforests.”

Edinburgh, and indeed the broader Lothian region, is home to a number of dynamic companies specialising in space and satellite development. Among these is Skyrora, which has ambitions to become a leading rocket developer and is attracting global attention.

Meanwhile, Astrosat is another exciting local company operating in the space and satellite sector. The earth observation firm combines satellite data with ground data to track and monitor environmental changes.

The Musselburgh-based firm was recently confirmed as a finalist in a new £1.25m project aimed at exploring how emerging technologies can improve management of Scotland’s nature spots.

Edinburgh’s academic institutions are also playing a key role in supporting and developing the space sector in Edinburgh, according to Dr Murray Collins, Chancellor’s Fellow in Space and Satellites at the University of Edinburgh.

Collins, who serves as Chief Executive at Edinburgh-based firm, Space Intelligence, said it is an increasingly important sector which is estimated to be worth £4 billion to Scotland by 2030 and is predicted to create up to 30,000 jobs.

“The research is world-leading and the ecosystem is growing at an impressive rate,” he said.

“There is huge potential in Edinburgh and throughout Scotland in the space and satellite industry – you don’t need to be an astronaut, you can work in robotics, astronomy, physics or environmental sciences, to name just a few,” Collins added.


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The launch of the animation follows recent government announcements surrounding future rocket launches from British sites. Earlier this week, the UK Government revealed new legislation would be presented to MPs which aimed to accelerate launch schedules.

These new regulations mean that rocket launches could take place from as early as next summer – and sites in Sutherland and Orkney will likely benefit.

Reacting to the plans, Skyrora CEO Volodymyr Levykin told DIGIT the announcement underlines the UK’s intent to become a “global power in the space economy”.

“These regulations will help to unlock the huge economic opportunity and provide a number of options to get cutting-edge technology into orbit and create new commercial industries,” he said.

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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