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Successful Scottish space industry could help Ireland’s sector take off

The success of Scotland’s space industry and how Ireland can emulate it brought together experts from both countries at a conference at University College Dublin (UCD).

The collaborative event, ‘Scotland-Ireland Space: Growing the Space Economy Together’, between UCD and the University of Strathclyde in partnership with the Scottish Government in Ireland, focused on learnings from the Scottish and Irish space sectors. The event also highlighted the importance of strong collaboration between academia, industry, and government and opportunities for the space sectors in the two countries linked to the net zero challenge.

The event brought together senior stakeholders from space enterprises, space sector organisations and leading researchers from across the two countries, as well as further afield, including the European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency.

More than 8,500 people work in the Scottish space industry which is expected to be worth £4 billion by 2030. The global space sector is expanding rapidly and is estimated to be worth $450 billion annually. 

Strong reputation

Under the National Space Strategy for Enterprise, the burgeoning Irish space sector is building a strong reputation in Europe’s space programme with industry and research groups collaborating successfully. The recent launch of Ireland’s first satellite, EIRSAT-1, which was designed and built by a UCD team, demonstrated the value of researchers in building Irish space sector capability including the development of a strong talent pipeline and the advancement of new technologies.

Malcolm Macdonald, the Director and founder of the Applied Space Technology Laboratory at the University of Strathclyde and who is also Visiting Professor at the Centre for Space Research at UCD, said: “A decade ago we supported Scotland’s first satellite, a collaboration between academia and industry, with support from government. Building on that collaborative approach, today Glasgow builds more satellites than anywhere else in Europe.”

Professor Macdonald, who is also Vice-Chair of the UK Space Agency’s Space Technology Advisory Committee, added:

At the University of Strathclyde we’re proud to have had such a central role in growing our dynamic Scottish space sector and honoured to have the opportunity to help UCD similarly shape Ireland’s sector. 

Triona McCormack, UCD’s Vice-President for Strategy and External Engagement said: “With the European and global space sector expanding rapidly, there is an opportunity for Ireland to capitalise on its superb space potential. The phenomenal progress in the Scottish space industry, in particular in the last ten years shows us what can be achieved here in Ireland.

“A crucial learning from the Scottish experience has been the vital role played by research and the strong interconnectedness between academia, industry and government. UCD is delighted to bring this valuable network together to gain greater insights into the space sector journeys of Ireland and Scotland to help understand the key building blocks for economic, environmental and societal benefits derived from the space sector.”

Driving innovation

Dr Hina Khan, Executive Director of Space Scotland, said: “Scotland is at the forefront of driving innovation and progress within the European space sector. We welcome the opportunity today to share learnings from Scotland’s space ecosystem and look forward to greater cooperation with Irish space enterprises, researchers and agencies to help harness the full potential of space exploration and technology to benefit citizens, space and the planet.”

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