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Building Resilient Communications from Northern England

The North of England is emerging as a pivotal hub for the UK space economy

  • The North of England hosts three major space clusters which have united under the brand Space North. 
  • Space North is prioritising the development of resilient communications, encompassing connectivity software, services, and components.  
  • The future of the space economy depends on collaboration with non-space industries, leveraging advancements in AI, quantum technologies, semiconductors, and other sectors.  

Developing Resilient Communications in the North of England 

There are currently sixteen clusters across the UK dedicated to growing the UK space economy. In the North of England, three space clusters cover entire regions: the North West Space Cluster, Space North East, and Space Hub Yorkshire. 

The North of England has a history of space applications and has become a key contact point for the UK-Australia space bridge, an example of international cooperation in space capability development. To enhance their capacity for international engagement, these clusters have united under the Space North brand, a collaboration aimed at strengthening their collective impact. 

Read about Space Hub Yorkshire and how companies can best leverage space clusters 

Resilient communications encompass the entire value chain, from connectivity software and services to optical communications materials and subsystems & components. 

Approximately 60% of companies in the North of England are part of international businesses. Of those, 40% are involved in manufacturing and component development, 30% in services, and 10% in cybersecurity and related capabilities. 

The North of England offers a cost-effective environment for developing innovative solutions for non-terrestrial communications. With a range of international companies and universities working together in the region, there is a fantastic potential to leverage the space clusters to build opportunities and new technologies for communications networks.  

Read about how UK companies can move beyond clusters and make the most of international collaboration  

Multi-sectoral collaboration for space activities 

Collaboration with non-space companies is crucial. Satellite companies are seeking suppliers and service providers from various industries, aiming to leverage advancements in AI, quantum technologies, semiconductors, and cloud computing to enhance connectivity in the UK and beyond.  

The future of the space economy and satellite services relies on agile and flexible organizations from all sectors to deliver orbital capabilities without adhering to a traditional space company structure. Investors are increasingly encouraging companies to develop technologies that address challenges in multiple markets, including the space industry. 

For upcoming services in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), cultural fit is essential to meet tight deadlines and achieve high performance. Additionally, companies must focus on cost-efficiency when developing their business propositions, whether to attract investment or customers. 

Hence, encouraging collaboration with academic institutions is crucial. For communications, academia can support companies in different segments of manufacturing, services, ground systems, connectivity technologies, and software. These partnerships will provide the basis for innovations and the development of resilient communications.  

Rethinking Competition 

The UK’s space sector will benefit from increased collaboration among companies to deliver services to international partners and governments. This collaboration is essential for growing the UK’s presence in space and enhancing connectivity across the country. 

Other parts of the UK ought to learn from the roadmap drafted by the northern regions to attract deep tech companies. Clusters will play a significant role in offering the support necessary to propel applications across markets. Meanwhile, academia, investors, international companies, and industry primes will offer the landscape for growth through collaborations and commercial relationships.  

Amid growing concerns about the geopolitical implications of the space industry, it is crucial for the UK to establish a commercially sustainable sector that meets both government and private demands. By empowering companies, academics, and investors to innovate and apply new technologies to space capabilities, we can foster the advancement of networks and secure communications, laying the groundwork for a thriving industry.

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