Leeds City Region Space Cluster

The LEP and the University of Leeds are leading on the development of a Space Cluster, through a new programme funded by the Government and backed by the UK Space Agency.

The LEP and the University of Leeds are leading on the development of a Space Cluster, through a new programme funded by the Government and backed by the UK Space Agency (UKSA).

What is it?

Seven locations across the UK have been awarded up to £80,000 from UKSA to develop a Space Growth Strategy to ensure space is prioritised and supported across regions which have existing significant strengths and capability.  

In the last decade, space has transformed into one of the UK’s fastest growing sectors. The UK space industry now employs close to 42,000 people nationally and generates an income of nearly £15 billion every year. The space sector is nearly 3x as productive as other sectors and spends 6x more on Research and Development (R&D).

Our aim

The project will bring together local and regional Government, academic expertise and businesses to develop a LCR Local Space Cluster.

The partnership will identify existing industry strengths while unearthing challenges and knowledge gaps to support the development of a strong and sustainable space hub in the region over the next five to ten years.

Leeds City Region and space

In terms of scale, Leeds City Region:1

  • Has more manufacturing jobs than anywhere else in the country
  • Is the country’s leading regional financial centre outside London
  • Is home to the UK’s fastest growing digital sector, with employment up 49% since 2015

And distinctive and relevant specialisms in:

  • The manufacture of machinery and equipment - 11,500 jobs in Leeds City Region; employment 70% higher than national average, most notably in Calderdale, Bradford and Kirklees
  • Manufacture of electrical equipment - 4,750 jobs; 44% higher than national average, with a particular strength in Wakefield
  • Computer programming & consultancy - 28,000 jobs; employment 8% above the national average, specifically concentrated in Leeds (19,000 jobs, 69% above national average)

Across the City Region we have an unparalleled concentration in Higher Education Institute (HEI) expertise, which will be capitalised on as part of this initiative.

Universities in the region, particularly University of Leeds and University of York have nationally recognised research strengths in relevant disciplines2.

Regional expertise

University of Leeds

  • 86% of research in computer science and informatics is world leading (32%) or internationally excellent (54%)
  • In mathematical science research, 36% is world leading and 49% internationally excellent
  • Co-hosts the SENSE – Centre for Satellite Data in Environmental Science, Earth Observation Centre for Doctoral Training, a new £5.6m investment in 50 PhD studentships from the National Environment Research Council (NERC), the UK Space Agency, University of Leeds and University of Edinburgh

University of York

  • 90% of research in computer science and informatics is world leading (44%) or internationally excellent (26%)
  • In mathematical science research, 17% is world leading and 63% internationally excellent

Why space?

Space matters. Every time we go to work, turn on the television, make a mobile phone call, or engage the Sat Nav system in our car or smart phone, space technology enables our modern life. Space also connects our Armed Forces and our humanitarian agencies around the world and delivers essential intelligence. Earth observation satellites are also essential to monitoring and understanding the climate crisis.

If harnessed as part of a Local Space Hub, these businesses have the potential to set the Leeds City Region apart from other areas both in the UK and globally.

Mandy Ridyard, board member of the LEP and CEO of Bradford-based aerospace engineering company Produmax, said: “This dynamic initiative aims to develop a world-leading regional space hub.

“Accelerating economic growth through technology and innovation is a priority for the Leeds City Region LEP, and this exciting work will create new opportunities by harnessing the world-class expertise and talent already in our region.”

Professor Nick Plant, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation at the University of Leeds, said: “Challenge-led innovation sits at the heart of national and international research networks.

“The UK has world-leading expertise in the space sector, and the University of Leeds is proud to be supporting entrepreneurship in the North, through the development of a regional space hub here in the Leeds City Region.”

The full release can be found on Gov.uk.

1 Business Register & Employment Survey, Office for National Statistics, 2018

2 Research Excellence Framework 2014

Image credit: NASA

Watch this space

As the work progresses this page will be updated regularly. If you would like to find out more or get involved, please get in touch.