Business Secretary Lord Mandelson and Science Minister Lord Drayson announced the creation of the International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC) in London. The ISIC is supported by £12m from BIS’ Strategic Investment Fund. It will be sited with the European Space Agency facility opened last July at Harwell, Oxfordshire.
The ISIC will establish centres of excellence in the UK to:
- exploit the data generated by Earth Observation satellites
- use space data to understand and counter climate change
- ensure the security and resilience of space systems and services
The space and satellite industry is one of the UK’s unsung success stories. It supports 68,000 jobs in the UK directly and indirectly and contributes £6bn to the economy. This hi-tech, high-skilled sector underpins high speed broadband, high definition television, GPS and weather forecasting that the modern world relies on.
Further measures to support the British space industry include commitments to:
- launch the UK Space Agency on 1 April bringing together all UK civil space activities under one single management;
- develop a National Space Technology Strategy to make sure the space sector delivers its potential, overseen by an industry-led steering group;
- ensure the observations needed for climate monitoring to enable the UK to strengthen its leadership role in climate change policy and science;
- establish a senior-level expert panel to take a view of emerging space capabilities to reflect these in future national security and defence planning; and
- work with industry to set out how space-enabled services can help deliver next generation broadband.
A new Space Leadership Council will also be established to provide advice on the implementation of the government response to the IGT in the first instance. The Council will include representatives from industry, academia and Government.
UK Space Agency
The UK Space Agency will take over responsibility for BIS policy and key Government budgets for space. This will start with the ESA subscriptions currently funded by NERC, STFC and TSB and subsequently managing
UK interests in EU projects including the space component of GMES, and Galileo. These are currently the responsibility of Defra and DFT respectively. It has also been agreed in principle that the Agency will manage the UK’s financial interest in the EU Satellite Centre, which is currently the responsibility of the MOD. The Agency will also begin to take responsibility for space funding for technology and instruments currently carried out by the Research Councils and TSB. Crucially the Agency will negotiate on the UK’s behalf on international bodies.