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The contribution of Space and Satellite industry to the UK economy

UK space industry continues to grow at an impressive pace, vying for an increase in the global market.

UK has a thriving space and satellite community that many countries are envious about. While the big players like Airbus, BAE and Inmarsat are well known, 7 out of 10 organisations in the sector are SMEs, each with their own niche, making them successful and being able to thrive in a very competitive market.

Back in 2010, the UK government in conjunction with the UK space industry launched the Space Innovation and Growth Strategy (IGS). IGS defined a 20-year vision and strategy for the future growth of the UK space industry. The intention of the IGS is for the UK space and satellite industry to have a 10 per cent market share of the global space market (£40 billion) by 2030, up from current 7.7 per cent (£11.8 billion).


recent update of the IGS roadmap to review the progress has identified that the UK space industry is on target to achieve £40 billion turnover by 2030. The update was published in conjunction with an independent study by London Economics titled "The Case for Space 2015"

The 140 page long report identified many important points, the chief among them being:

  • The UK captures 6.3% to 7.7% of the global space economy turnover growing on average 8.8% per annum since 1999/00 and 8.6% since 2008/09 to reach a turnover of £11.8bn in 2012/13.
  • The UK space economy directly contributed £5.1 billion to UK GDP in 2012/13, exhibiting a high value‐added share of 43.4% of turnover.
  • Space directly supports an estimated 37,000 jobs, distributed across the UK. The total employment supported including indirect and induced effects is more than 115,000 jobs.
  • Space economy employees are highly skilled (3 in 4 hold a higher education qualification) and highly productive (labour productivity of £140,000 – over 3‐times the UK average of £46,000).
  • Even though most of the space manufacturing is concentrated in the East of England and downstream segments (operations and applications) are concentrated in London, the space economy benefits all regions of the UK.
  • 7 in 10 organisations analysed are SMEs, exhibiting more specialisation than larger enterprises.
  • UK space exports in 2012/13 were estimated at £3.6bn – an export share of 31% of turnover, more than double that of the UK economy as a whole (15%).
  • The UK space industry is R&D intensive, with higher R&D expenditure than many high‐technology sectors.


The report also highlights that space plays an enabling, enhancing or alternative role in each of the UK's nine critical national infrastructures. If satellite services were to be lost, all of the critical infrastructures that underpin UK society would be disrupted, as can be seen above.

Julian David, CEO of techUK, said: "The UK space industry is in many ways an excellent example of what other UK industries should emulate. It demonstrates consistent year on year growth; it proactively seeks out a global market; it is highly productive - at three times the national average; it inspires young people to take an interest in science and technology, and then provides high value careers for them. With our diverse range of member companies providing technology solutions from healthcare and transport to digital entertainment, techUK is well placed to help the sector achieve its ambitious market plans."

techUK's 'Satellites Applications & Services conference' will be held on the 2nd October aimed at signposting the innovations in satellite technologies and services and their applications in the traditional and an ever expanding range of new markets. Working in conjunction with techUK's Electronics Network the conference will also incorporate a 'Space Electronics' strand at the same time, allowing interactions across the entire value chain.


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