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Findings from the latest ‘Size and Health of the UK Space Industry’ report reveal a growth in jobs and income

08:34 05 July in Advanced Engineering & Manufacturing, News

The UK space industry, despite the challenges of COVID-19, has seen modest growth, including a large increase in industry population, fuelled by new incorporations, which signifies a healthy ecosystem, and provides strong optimism for the next three years. With over £360 billion of UK economic activity now supported, the value of satellites to the wider economy continues to grow.

In a boost to the Government’s target of investing 2.4% of GDP in Research and Development by 2027, the survey shows the UK space sector investing increasing sums in new ideas and technologies. R&D spending is up 18% in real terms from £595 million in 2016/17 to £702 million in 2018/19. This is 5 times the national average as a proportion of Gross Value Added (GVA).

“The UK space industry is booming, and this strong growth is a key part of our plans to level up and build back better from the pandemic, creating thousands of high value space jobs in regions right across the UK. As we look to fulfil our bold ambitions for space, including the first satellite launches from UK soil next year, I look forward to seeing the sector growing further with more young people pursuing exciting careers in space, all while helping to cement the UK’s status as a global space superpower.”

Amanda Solloway, Science Minister


Key findings of the report include:

  • Total UK space industry income grew to £16.4 billion in 2018/19, a growth rate of 2.8% per annum since 2016/17. The forecasted estimate for 2019/20 is £16.6 billion (+0.8%)
  • The industry numbers 1,218 organisations, with 95 new incorporations in the last 2 years
  • With a stable GBP/USD exchange rate, the UK industry growth rate matched that of the global industry, so the UK’s share of the global space economy remained unchanged at 5.1% in 2018/19
  • Direct employment grew to 45,100 jobs in 2018/19 (from 41,900 in 2016/17), equivalent to 0.14% of the total UK workforce, supporting a total of 126,300 jobs across the supply chain
  • The industry directly contributed £6.6 billion of Gross Value-Added to UK economic output (0.30% of UK GDP, +5% per annum since 2016/17), and a total of £15.8 billion (including indirect and induced supply chain effects) in 2018/19


The South East has also become a hub for the space industry with the highest concentration of space-related activity sites (460) in the UK, with a large number of space organisations choosing to locate to the region. Additionally, the South East accounts for the 2nd largest total UK space industry income, valued at £2.9 billion, with an income share increase of 16% since 2016/17.

Thames Valley is home to The UK Space Agency, Westcott Venture Park – which recently opened a new National Rocket Test Facility, Westcott Innovation Centre and Harwell Space Cluster, the gateway to the UK space sector, comprised of 105 organisations and representing over 950 people. The prominence of space organisations presence in the Thames Valley demonstrates the excellent network for organisations in the space sector to grow.

“The UK is already a world leader in small satellite technology and applications, telecommunications, robotics and Earth observation, while British universities are some of the best in the world for space science. It is fantastic to see our innovative space sector investing in the future through increased commitment to research and development – and to see more and more jobs being created in this exciting industry.”

Dr Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency


To read more, click HERE.

To read the full report, click HERE.

To find out more about the Thames Valley’s Space Sector, click HERE.