Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Queen’s to play vital role in UK’s £9bn ‘space race’

You don’t need a degree in rocket science to take advantage of the billions of pounds worth of investment in the UK space race, a conference in Belfast has proved this week.

Top figures from UK and European space agencies — as well as representatives from a number of small businesses — were in the city for Northern Ireland’s first ‘Space’ Summit at Queen’s University’s Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT).

The university is set to play a key role in doubling the UK’s share of the global market for space products and services by 2030 — by then, a market which will be worth £400bn globally.

Currently, the UK’s space industry contributes £9.1bn annually to the economy, while the aerospace, defence, security and space sectors contribute over £1bn to the Northern Ireland economy.

Speakers at the event included Cyril Mangenot from the European Space Agency and Paul Febvre, director of Catapult, a new technology and innovation centre currently being established at Harwell in Oxfordshire.

A big market is satellite applications — the technologies which power mobile technology and broadband, which monitor weather features on earth and which guide GPS systems.

Stephen Wray, commercial director at ECIT said that the technology being developed in Belfast is helping attract international students.

“We have some of the biggest geeks in the world with brains to burn,” he said.