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Space Park Leicester named as a UK ‘centre for excellence’ for future growth

A new report by the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) has identified Space Park Leicester, the landmark national initiative being developed by the University of Leicester in collaboration with local, national and international partners, as the UK centre of excellence for space research, and the most prominent research and development initiative in the East Midlands.

In its new report The Power of Place, CaSE recommended that external investment should be “focussed on R&D excellence that already exists” and that each region should “clarify their distinctive strengths” – two criteria which Space Park Leicester, a development led by the University of Leicester in collaboration with local, national and international partners, was deemed to fulfil.

The report also praised the success of University-business collaborations, which are “on the rise” and are producing successful outputs when promoting a particular region.

Professor Paul Monks, Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Earth Observation Science and Head of the College of Science and Engineering, said:

“Space Park Leicester builds upon our rich heritage as leaders in pioneering space research for the past 60 years, whilst creating a vision for the future through the provision of state-of-the-art, high-tech facilities for satellite research, development and manufacturing.

“This extraordinary project will open a wealth of invaluable opportunities in the key space data and technology sector. We are working to create a brand that is synonymous with the East Midlands which everyone will recognise. It is a real step into the future and will secure the University of Leicester’s spot as a world-leading centre for space research and development.

“Research and Development, working with industry, national and local partners will be fundamental as we begin to exit the lockdown period – our next steps will be crucial and Space Park Leicester will play an integral part.”

Space Park Leicester, is a world-leading cluster for innovative research, enterprise and education in space and Earth observation, is a landmark national initiative being developed by the University of Leicester in collaboration with partners including Leicester City Council and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership.

The £100 million Space Park Leicester project will create an exciting new regional cluster in the UK, integrating industry with academia; downstream space data and its applications with upstream engineering and integrating research with manufacturing.

A commercial Low Cost Access to Space (LoCAS) satellite manufacturing facility for the manufacture of mid-range satellite will address the UK’s need for capacity to build satellite constellations. It will provide a pipeline for burgeoning UK launch services, lower the barriers to new entrants in the market and support the development of new business models for downstream services.

The pioneering work undertaken at Space Park Leicester will be driven by partnerships. A recent example is the Space Technology Applications from Research (STAR) Accelerator which was awarded a grant of just over £2.3 million from the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership’s (LLEP) European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to match the University’s investment of just over £2.3m to establish the Space Technology Applications from Research (STAR) Accelerator.

Staff in STAR will engage with SME businesses across all sectors to provide help, support and expertise in designing and developing products to meet the short timescales demanded in modern production. It will also assist industry in assessing modern manufacturing technologies and their applicability to those businesses.

In addition, the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology and Earth Observation Research Centre (METEOR), which will be a key part of Space Park Leicester, received nearly £14 million in funding through Round 6 of Research England’s flagship capital investment scheme, the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF). This funding will leverage a further £50 million of investments in space and Earth observation (EO) research in Leicester.