Scotland’s space sector

From design, manufacturing and testing, to launch and operation, Scotland is in a unique position to service all your space tech needs. We can also help you bring value back down to Earth by capitalising on the demand for satellite space data.

Design, build and launch

Scotland's pioneering research, innovation, manufacturing facilities and launch sites means we have end-to-end capability in the small satellite value chain that is unique in Europe.

Upstream capabilities

Scotland is developing Europe's first orbital spaceport alongside flexible sites for vertical and horizontal launch.

Downstream data expertise

With its growing talent pool of data science skills, Scotland is your gateway to satellite-driven intelligence to commercialise real time data applications across the globe.

Manufacturing excellence

Glasgow builds more satellites than anywhere else outside of California.

A top location in Europe for space companies

Scotland's space sector is rising faster than anywhere else in the UK, aiming to grow in value 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. 

Watch our video to hear from Daniel Smith, founder of AstroAgency and Dr Murray Collins, space lead at the Bayes Centre in Edinburgh.

Scotland's upstream launch capabilities

The unique geography of the Scottish Highlands & Islands offer a strategic location to easily reach low earth orbits using vertical launch. The rugged landscape also benefits from a sparsely populated area and its proximity to the coast, reducing risk from launch vehicles. Scotland's northerly position is in close proximity to poles, enabling superior direct access to polar and sun-synchronous orbits. Shorter trajectories also mean reduced risk, enabling your satellites to reach their destination more quickly.

Benefit from:

  • Cost-effective means for small satellite launch without ride sharing
  • A low risk environment
  • Proximity to customers and new spaceports
  • Access to a vibrant engineering community for R&D expertise 
  • A supportive government

Both indigenous companies and multinationals alike can benefit from the planned spaceport development.

The UK's first spaceports

Scotland has been chosen as the home for the UK’s first vertical spaceports, with vertical rocket and satellite launches planned as soon as 2022. It will allow Scotland 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.

British launch company Orbex and US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin have been awarded a total of £29 million in funding to develop launch operations from Scotland. Orbex is working with Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop launch capabilities from Space Hub Sutherland and has set up a rocket manufacturing facility in Forres, whilst Lockheed Martin is developing launch operations from Shetland Space Centre. The development of both of these vertical spaceports evidences the attractiveness of a move to Scotland for companies in this space.

Our launch sites can provide plentiful benefits for other launchers too, including a European base, research and development activities and ample supply chain opportunities for components and other elements.

Our space industry ecosystem

Scotland's downstream data expertise

Now is an exciting time for the data industry in Scotland. Satellite data and its associated applications are accelerating, and the possibilities for data analysis endless. From agriculture and marine to construction and humanitarian efforts, Scottish companies are using satellite-driven intelligence to commercialise real time applications across the globe.

Get easy access to:

  • Talent now and in the future
  • A thriving data science community
  • World-class universities
  • Reduced costs thanks to innovation
  • A strong base to tap into global opportunities
  • Explore the art of the possible 

As part of the £661 million decade-long Data Driven Innovation initiative, the University of Edinburgh and its partners are training 100,000 people in the application of data across major sectors, ensuring Scotland has a future-proof workforce who are ready to face any challenge.

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.  

As well as a strong workforce, we create more than 21,000 graduates every year, across subjects in engineering, information technology, mathematical and physical sciences alone. 

Space tech manufacturing in Scotland

From ship building to rocket ships, we’ve come a long way – Scotland now builds more satellites than anywhere else outside of California. Homegrown manufacturers like AAC Clyde Space have led the way in this space, showing the world that Scotland is the place to be for small satellite production. And with industry pioneers like US inward investor Spire now designing, building and testing their own satellites entirely in Scotland, you’ll be in great company.

Benefit from Scotland's:

  • Strong engineering heritage
  • Innovation centres working to lower costs
  • Low cost base
  • Agile and growing community
  • Small satellite manufacturing expertise
  • Connected supply chain with end-to-end capability
  • Passion for innovation, striving to do better

Underpinning this unique environment which investors find so attractive are our innovation and R&D centres - continually working hard to make manufacturing faster, cheaper and smarter. A key asset is the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), an industry led innovation centre hosted by the University of Strathclyde, bringing together the private and public sectors to transform skills, productivity and innovation.

A key component of the NMIS is the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre (LMC), with a focus on manufacturing lightweight components for space and other industries where lighter weight materials offer significant cost-savings and efficiency benefits.

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

Supportive business environment

The Scottish Space Leadership Council (SSLC)

SSLC aims to bring together businesses in commercial space to increase opportunities, efficiencies and growth through collaboration, partnering and mutual support.

The SSLC aspires to raise the profile of Scotland as home of an agile space ecosystem, positioning the country as a leading global destination for access to space and space services, in an environment conducive to growth and success.

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  

Get regular updates from us about the companies who choose to do business here.

Interviews with space experts

Edinburgh: Space Data Capital

PODCAST SERIES 1: From satellite data to space robots, experts from across Scotland reveal why Edinburgh is on course to become the space data capital of Europe.

Scotland's secret space race

PODCAST SERIES 2: Interviews with politicians, astronauts, space scientists and satellite experts to unveil the incredible innovation going on in Scotland.

Scotland in Space guide (PDF, 2MB)

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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