A space sector networking event has been announced to take place in Northern Ireland on June 24th, featuring updates from a variety of organisations supporting one of the UK’s fastest growing industries.

The event has been organised by the Space Research and Innovation Network for Technology (known as ‘SPRINT’), which provides unprecedented access to the expertise and facilities at top UK space universities to help businesses accelerate the development of their products and services through the commercial exploitation of space data and technologies. Delivery partners for the event include the UK Space Agency and strategic space marketing firm AstroAgency, while the Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) research group at Queen’s University Belfast is hosting the event.

The UK’s space industry is targeting significant growth within the next decade, with the publishing of the National Space Strategy last year specifying an objective to level up the country’s space economy through supporting regional activity across the United Kingdom. SPRINT’s event seeks to strengthen connections between space value chain companies and those interested in the sector’s opportunities in Northern Ireland, as well as facilitating new collaborations for those businesses across the wider UK.

The ‘SPRINT Space Sector Update and Speed Networking Event’ is free to attend and has been shaped to ensure participants leave with knowledge on the latest market updates and a broad understanding of recently launched or upcoming initiatives, including funding support, from several speakers throughout the morning and early afternoon. After lunch, a tour of the on-site facilities will then be followed by a speed networking session, organised by strategic space guidance firm AstroAgency, allowing participants to maximise their time at the event through quick-fire introductions, ensuring direct collaboration opportunities are presented and new connections forged.

National SPRINT Head of Programme, Dr Rain Irshad, stated, “We’re excited about running this event and providing businesses in Northern Ireland with key updates on the sector’s progress, as well as enabling new commercial partnerships to be formed with companies from the rest of the UK in order to support the sector’s growth. As the UK moves quickly to achieve its ambitions in becoming a leading space nation, there is a huge role for businesses across the entire country to play that aligns well with the levelling up agenda”.

While the global space economy is projected to grow from an estimated £270 billion in 2019 to £490 billion by 2030, the recently published Size and Health of the UK Space Industry 2021 report highlighted that UK space-related organisations produced £16.5 billion in income in 2019/20. In terms of employment, space activities supported a total of approximately 190,000 jobs across the value chain, growing 6.7% from 2018/19 and demonstrating the exciting potential of a sector that covers satellite manufacture, launch vehicle and spaceport developments, cutting-edge scientific research and the analysis of data from space to support environmental protection, the economy and society at large.

With further growth projected as more companies move to capture their share in the market via supply chain opportunities and collaborations with universities, the UK space sector represents a huge opportunity for businesses to secure additional revenue streams and new insights to enhance the competitiveness of their commercial offering from a unique, ‘out of this world’ viewpoint.

Chris McQuire, Head of Local Growth at the UK Space Agency, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to forge valuable partnerships in the fast-growing space sector. Strengthening connections across the space value chain is a vital part of our mission to catalyse investment, and this event will promote new and exciting opportunities for regional collaboration within Northern Ireland, while extending links between Northern Irish businesses and those in the rest of the UK.”

The SPRINT Space Sector Update and Speed Networking Event will also offer a ‘hybrid’ format, allowing those who cannot join in person to log-in remotely and engage online with participants and speakers from the likes of the Satellite Applications Catapult and industry group ADS. Registration is free and places at the session can be secured at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sprint-space-sector-update-and-speed-networking-event-tickets-266675512637