Five Pioneers of the Scottish Space Industry

5 Scottish Space Companies to keep an eye on

Scotland welcomed for the first time the National Student Space Conference (NSSC) in March 2019. The timing is no coincidence – the space sector in Scotland is continuing to rocket to greater and greater heights and shows no sign of slowing down. More small satellites are being built in Glasgow than any other place in Europe; nearly a fifth of all UK space jobs are based in Scotland. Research from the Size and Health of the UK Space Industry 2018 Report shows a 27% increase in the number of space organisations in Scotland.

Historically, Scotland punches well above its weight in an array of markets – the space sector is no exception. Many companies are choosing to consolidate their strengths and built towards a successful future here. There are now more than 130 space organisations in Scotland – including the headquarters of 83 UK space industry firms – and these organisations generate a combined income of £140 million.

Innovation Minister Ivan McKee says:

“Our ambitious plans for the space sector need strong leadership to succeed, and we are working with the Scottish Space Leadership Council, which has representatives from all parts of the sector including potential launch sites, satellite manufacturers and data analysis businesses.

“Together I’m confident we will deliver the aspiration for Scotland to become a £4 billion industry by 2030 and be Europe’s leading space nation.”

To achieve this, the industry needs to attract highly skilled candidates that can bring diverse skill sets to further advance to capabilities of the organisation operating within the Scottish space sector.

Skyrora (https://www.skyrora.com/ )

Headquartered on Princess Street in Edinburgh and having a manufacturing operation on the outskirts of the capital, Skyrora specialises in the development of launch vehicle technology which aims to reduce the financial and resource costs of space launches. It recently won the Scottish SME Business Award 2019 and the firm aims to further expand its operations down south and utilise the increasing amount of UK Government funding being provided across the UK space market.

Skyrora was also the key contributor in seeing the return of the Black Arrow; the UK’s first and only rocket to reach orbit rocket from a landing site in Australia. Daniel Smith (CEO Skyrora) said “it is quite feasibly the most important artefact linked to the UK’s space history”.

Looking to the future, the company’s next rockets – Skylark Micro and SkyHy – will afford its team more launch experience. The latter will be capable of reaching the edge of space – an achievement no private company launching from the UK has achieved.

Alba Orbital (http://www.albaorbital.com/ )

Based out of Glasgow, Alba Orbital, founded by CEO Tom Walkinshaw, focuses on helping people to build and launch their own satellites.

It has no direct competitors due to their unique market position and it is the largest company in the PocketCube world. The main application for these PocketCube satellites is in space research, providing vital data to a variety of organisations.

One of these lightweight miniaturised satellites, ‘The Unicorn-I series’, is advertised for launch at a price of just €250,000, which Walkinshaw says is “the cheapest launch in the world by probably half”.

The saving comes from the size of the device. He said: “We are years ahead of other people with the PocketQube stuff. It has taken a lot of hard work over a long period of time.”

Clyde Space (https://www.clyde.space/)

Clyde Space is an award-winning supplier of small and micro spacecraft systems. It develops high performance power subsystems, DC-DC Converters, lithium polymer batteries and high-efficiency solar panels, typically for small satellite missions.

Founded by Craig Clark in 2005, the firm has gone on to supply more than 1,000 subsystems for missions across the world and launched Scotland’s first ever satellite, UKube-1, in 2014.

Glasgow is well known for its ship building capabilities, but Clyde Space is redefining that identity and was pivotal in Glasgow achieving the title of the largest producer of satellites in Europe.

Clyde Space has an extensive customer base with 95% based outside the UK.

Spire (https://spire.com/en )

Spire is a nanosatellite and data analysis company. Although based out of San Francisco, the firm’s global expansion saw the opening of a key manufacturing facility in Glasgow.

Spire Global has expanded its Glasgow operations with a new nanosatellite manufacturing and test facility, taking up an additional 5,284 sq. ft. of space in Glasgow’s Skypark 5. The new space allows Spire to design, build, test, and integrate satellites entirely within one building and is the most comprehensive facility of its kind in the world.

This new facility is set to bring about new opportunities to work in one of the world’s most state of art space technology sites.

R3-IOT (https://r3-iot.com/)

Fresh from taking the top prize of £100,000 investment at Scottish Edge, this exciting new start-up founded by Allan Cannon and Kevin Quillien is one to keep an eye on.

R3 IoT delivers remote Internet of Things (IoT) services using satellites. It is developing a product set aimed at remote industries in locations not adequately served by existing infrastructure. It aims to tackle cost and security fears without compromising ease of implementation and customer experience.

With both founders possessing a wealth of knowledge about how the space industry operated, it is well-placed to produce exciting results over the coming years.

If you’re interested in a career in the space industry, or if you’re looking for your next hire, get in touch today and we’ll help you reach the next level of your journey.

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