At the heart of the Thames Valley is Harwell, the gateway to the UK space sector. Having grown 19% in the 12-month period from December 2017 to December 2018, Harwell Space Cluster comprises of a group of 89 commercial, public and academic organisations that collectively employ over 950 people.
As the UK’s most concentrated space cluster, Harwell Campus is a focus for the country’s space sector, aiming to maximise the nation’s success in a rapidly expanding and highly competitive world market. The UK has a strategy to quadruple its performance in this sector by 2030, and the evolving development of the Space Cluster at Harwell Campus is central to these efforts.
Organisations in the Cluster include STFC’s RAL Space Centre, the Satellite Applications Catapult, the European Space Agency (ESA), the ESA’s European Centre for Satellite Applications & Telecoms (ECSAT), and the ESA Business Incubation Centre.
The European Space Agency, an international organisation with 22-member states, is based at Harwell.
Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, it can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.
ESA programmes are designed to find out more about Earth and its immediate space environment, the Solar System and the Universe, as well as to develop satellite-based technologies and promote European industries. Discover what ESA has planned for 2019 here.
The ESA’s Europe-wide Technology Transfer Network is led from Harwell Campus.
Kayser Italia is a privately-owned, independent aerospace systems engineering company, who initially established operations in 1986. Since its launch, the company has participated in more than 50 space missions and 80 payloads – all of which have been completed with full scientific, technical, economic and programmatic success.
The opportunity to work with the European Space Agency, the strong cluster of space-related companies, and the chance to exploit sector know-how to build growth ensured that Harwell was the preferred site for its new offices.
Fully supported by the Department for International Trade (DIT) team, alongside the Oxfordshire LEP and service partners at Harwell, Kayser were given extensive information to make an informed decision considering sector-based intelligence, information on technical skills, introductions to commercial services, business networks and property viewings.
“The support and services we received from the DIT, LEP and the service partners at Harwell, at a crucial time in our investment journey, were great. They not only saved us time and money, but also helped direct our thinking. Our mission is to develop integrated applications in space building on the expertise acquired over the years by Kayser Italia within its life sciences space systems. The unique cluster and dynamic brings cross-cutting sectors together and we believe that Harwell is the best location for us to do this and be successful.”
David Zolesi, Managing Director of Kayser Space
Kayser Space (UK) Limited, set-up at the end of 2015, has since signed two major projects with ESA. In addition, the company has established agreements with major universities and is in the process of developing joint projects.
The UK Space Agency seeks to provide a single voice for UK space ambitions and work with industry to capture 10% of the global market for space by 2030, as set out in the Space Innovation and Growth Strategy. Prosperity from Space is another industry-led sector strategy, created in partnership with the UK Space Agency, for enhanced growth in the UK space sector over the next decade. More information on the strategy can be found here.
The UK Space Agency has its headquarters in Swindon, in close proximity to Harwell. Since the Agency works closely with national and international academic, education and community partners, this gives Oxfordshire-based organisations the opportunity to shape the UK space sector.
Thales Alenia Space established its British subsidiary at Harwell in 2014. The UK business is an integral part of the Neosat project, contributing to the design and production of the propulsion system for this new platform.
“Our decision to come to the UK is a direct result of the UK Government’s work to create a space-friendly R&D environment, new access to funding and an effective business support network.”
Martin Gee, CEO of Thales Alenia Space UK
Over 70 successful businesses in space propulsion and satellite technology are situated in Westcott Venture Park, a secure 650-acre strategic employment site which includes designated Enterprise Zone status. The site is highly suitable for manufacturing companies who require high-level security.
Providing fast access to the UK Motorway network by being positioned on the A41 between Aylesbury and Bicester, Westcott Venture Park is an excellent location for high-growth companies. Units are built on a pre-let basis.
Westcott has a rich history that dates back decades. Since 1946, the Park has been involved in testing rocket projects, which as this video shows, has moved a long way forward over the years. In 2016, the UK Space Agency selected Westcott as the UK’s National Space Propulsion Test Facility. A year later, Reaction Engines began constructing a new facility at Westcott for SABRE testing, a crucial step towards a SABRE-powered flight-test vehicle.