UK announces space infrastructure fund

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The UK government is taking significant strides to bolster the country’s space sector with the launch of the Space Clusters and Infrastructure Fund (SCIF).

This initiative marks the first dedicated fund for UK space infrastructure and aims to accelerate the development of R&D facilities necessary for making space products mission-ready and commercially viable.

Investment in space R&D infrastructure is crucial for fostering the growth of the UK’s space and satellite capabilities, enabling the support of innovative missions that can have far-reaching benefits for individuals, businesses, and communities across the nation.

The SCIF will provide match funding opportunities to UK organisations, including both industry and academia. These entities will be able to undertake projects to procure, construct, or upgrade R&D facilities and equipment, ultimately paving the way for the successful commercialisation of high-potential, high-value space technologies.

Initially, the project aims to support approximately 5-10 projects with funding of up to £10 million each.

Space projects hold immense promise in terms of generating significant employment opportunities and attracting investments in regions of the UK that are most in need. By establishing critical anchor points at the local level, the SCIF initiatives will lay the foundation for the emergence of new businesses, enhanced research capabilities, and a vibrant space industry ecosystem.

Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said:

“The UK has a thriving space sector, which is well-established and globally respected. 

We are growing this exciting sector further, by catalysing investment, delivering missions and capabilities, and championing the power of space to improve lives.”

The establishment of the Space Clusters and Infrastructure Fund aligns with the goals outlined in the National Space Strategy. By nurturing a dynamic and attractive space economy, the UK aims to become one of the world’s most innovative players in the space industry, thereby fostering the development of new skills and generating employment opportunities.

A key focus of the SCIF is to promote regional development and ensure a balanced distribution of its budget outside of the Greater South-East of the UK. While proposals from all regions are welcome, the majority of the funding will be allocated to areas outside the traditional economic powerhouses.

Lizzie Kerr, Director of the space industry trade association UKspace, commented:

“R&D underpins so much of the UK space industry’s activities and continued innovation. 

UKspace, therefore, welcomes this funding commitment from the Government which has the potential to impact many of our members, by developing and renewing facilities, and bringing growth and employment across the UK.”

The UK government has previously demonstrated its commitment to space infrastructure through investments in projects like the National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF) and the National Space Propulsion Test Facility. These initiatives have provided cutting-edge facilities for satellite testing and space propulsion experiments, reducing the need for organisations to seek testing capabilities abroad.

In addition to the funding allocated for national projects like the SCIF, the UK Space Agency also secured £1.84 billion through the European Space Agency in November. This investment ensures that the UK will play a leading role in future international missions and innovative commercial programs within the space and commercial satellite sector.

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