Scotland’s space sector

Thanks to our long history in advanced engineering (with a focus on R&D, design and manufacturing), Scotland has easily made the transition to the space sector. Our existing infrastructure, skills and facilities, paired with our ground-breaking space research centres and the availability of open airspace, means our space industry is thriving.

We're developing Europe's first orbital spaceport

Glasgow builds more satellites than anywhere else outside the United States

We aim to grow the industry's value to £4 billion by 2030

A top location in Europe for space companies

Scotland has an exciting and fast-growing space sectorIn 2017 it was worth £2.5 billion, and the industry aims to grow this to £4 billion by 2030. We have some of the highest space-related activity in Europe – in fact, Glasgow manufactures more satellites than any other city in Europe.  

We have strong roots in satellite manufacturing, rocket manufacturing, data and ground-breaking research. And with new developments like the UK’s first orbital spaceport just around the corner, now is a great time to join Scotland’s growing space industry. 

Our space industry ecosystem

The UK's first spaceport 

Scotland has been chosen as the home for the UK’s first vertical spaceport, with vertical rocket and satellite launches planned as soon as the early 2020s. The new spaceport in Sutherland, funded by the UK Space Agency and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, means Scotland will be able to offer full end-to-end capabilities in the small satellite supply chain. This means we can design, build, launch and operate satellites, plus downlink and utilise the data, all in Scotland.  

It's expected that the project will create 40 highly-skilled jobs in the northern highlands location, and a total of around 400 new jobs when accounting for wider supply chain developments. 

 

The right skills for space tech  

Scotland’s space industry is made up of over 130 companies, and it already employs over 7,500 people. Thanks to close relationships with universities and innovation centres, many of our specialists work in high-tech, high skill or research and development intensive areas 

2018 graduate stats for the space sector

Engineering and technology: 6,020

Including 3,725 undergraduates and 2,295 postgraduates

Physical sciences: 3,425

Including 2,200 undergraduates and 1,225 postgraduates

Mathematical sciences: 1,300

Including 890 undergraduates and 410 postgraduates

Why Spire choose Scotland

We helped California-based satellite data specialists, Spire, get set up in Scotland quickly and easily. Skilled talent, access to risk capital, and the support we offer to innovative companies, are among the top reasons Spire chose to set up here. 

Spire operates one of the largest constellations of private nanosatellites and ground station networks in the world. In September 2019, Spire secured £14.7 million investment from Scottish Enterprise which will help the firm generate over 260 jobs in Scotland’s space sector. 

“We selected countries based on three criteria – access to human capital, infrastructure capital and risk capital. We then selected Glasgow as our European headquarters. It was the flexibility and eagerness to support innovative companies that really stood out.”

Peter Platzer, CEO, Spire

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Funding for innovation and research 

If you’re looking to work on ground-breaking new ideas and tech, Scotland is a great place to be. As well as access to our highly skilled and specialised workforce, you’ll have access to European Space Agency funding programs, UK-wide funding projects (including the UK Space Agency), and R&D grant support from Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. 

Scotland’s R&D grant funding isn’t ring-fenced into specific areas of interest. This means we assess companies on an individual basis and can support growth based on their needs.   

Who have we already funded? 

  • £1.7 million funding from UK Space Agency for the first-ever Gravitational Wave Space Observatory 
  • £2.5 million from UK Space Agency and £9.8 million from Highlands and Islands Enterprise to support the UK’s first spaceport 
  • £14.7 million from Scottish Enterprise to support Spire’s growth 
  • Ongoing investment in our innovation centres – including CENSIS and Data Lab 

Find out more about financial and tax incentives in Scotland  

If you’re interested in setting up a space or space related company in Scotland, get in touch with our team of advisers to see how we can help.

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