The Harwell Space Cluster has launched a 10-year strategy with the aim of becoming the best place for businesses looking beyond planet Earth.

The cluster is Europe’s most concentrated group of space organisations and is located on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus near Didcot.

The 10-year strategy aims to build on the cluster’s success as a platform for UK space companies and international companies looking to get involved in the UK space market.

The new strategy involves increasing investment in the cluster, strengthening the existing skills, facilities, and business support pipeline, and increasing engagement globally to create even more opportunities for international collaboration and market access.

Harwell Space Cluster hopes that by continuing to deliver projects during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as the construction of the Government funded National Satellite Test Facility, will ensure that vital national infrastructure is in place to help companies as they emerge from the coronavirus lockdown.

Space organisations within the Harwell Space Cluster are working to make it a good place for new space businesses and support the new strategy.

Magali Vaissiere, head of European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT) said: “We are proud to support the Harwell Space Cluster’s 10-year strategy. As the world puts in place plans to make an economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, space has never been more important.

“Space has a proven track record of promoting innovation and competitiveness to create new services and products that generate new jobs and boost prosperity.”

Professor Chris Mutlow, director of Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), said: “At RAL Space we’ve watched the Harwell Space Cluster grow around us. We stand ready to support as it sets out to deliver this ambitious strategy.

“Our expanding facilities, expert workforce and ability to tackle complex challenges help make Harwell the perfect place for our global partners to work with the UK space sector, and for UK organisations to springboard out into the world.”

Colin Baldwin, head of Local Growth Strategy, UK Space Agency, said: “This strategy builds on Harwell’s global reputation, world-class facilities and diverse innovation environment to ensure the UK’s vibrant space sector acts as an engine of growth for the whole country.

“We are working closely with partners on the campus and across the UK as we develop a comprehensive national space strategy that will make the UK the best place to start, locate or grow a space business.”

Collaborations will continue to be nurtured as part of the 10-year strategy.

One collaboration is with Northumbria University and Astroscale, a company based at Harwell which focuses on developing technology and services to remove space debris and extending the orbital life of space technology.

Astroscale has entered a collaboration with Northumbria University to explore decommissioning practices in the oil and nuclear sectors to bring insights to the satellite industry and encourage responsible behaviour in space, and improving space environmental protection.

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The STFC managed European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre United Kingdom provides space expertise and laboratories for start-ups.

One company benefitting from funding and support is Lanterne which has developed an application that helps social distancing using space enabled data.