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Lift Off for the UK’s National Space Strategy

3 min read

By John Catchpole, Emma Harris

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On Monday 27th September the government unveiled their National Space Strategy. This long-awaited strategy sets out the government's ambition to boost investment into the space industry and level up nationally, as well as its hope for the UK to achieve the first small satellite launch from Europe in 2022.

Key goals set out in the strategy include defending national interests in space, ensuring that critical national infrastructure and position, navigation, timing (PNT) services remain resilient whilst creating new commercial ventures and employment opportunities in the space sector. 

In this article, we have picked out the key themes running through the strategy and how Foot Anstey is well placed to assist the upstream and downstream space businesses and organisations who will be looking to benefit from the government's support of UK space sector and achieve sustainable growth.

Access to Finance

All businesses need funding and investment to grow and the government is keen to support the growth of the space sector through the establishment of space-focussed private finance funds. This will particularly benefit SME space businesses who may otherwise struggle to source funding from mainstream banks.. These include capital venture funds, such as the Seraphim Space Investment Trust, supported by the British Business Bank.

Start-up space businesses often require significant early stage capital expenditure and it may be that this capital is tied up for long periods of time before a return on that investment is seen. This, coupled with a lack of tangible capital to be offered as collateral, may deter investors from providing initial funding unless additional investment is provided.

To counter – this, the British Business Bank will invest £375 million into companies as part of the Future Fund: Breakthrough programme. This is a UK-wide scheme which aims to encourage private investors to co-invest with government in high-growth, innovative firms.

Sustainability

The strategy recognises how space technology and enhanced observation of our earth can help in the fight against biodiversity loss and climate change. The UK has partnered with the EU's Copernicus programme and the European Space Agency's TRUTHS mission to improve the accuracy of earth observation and monitoring, with solar energy being harnessed to power these satellites. This will help the UK to meet our target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and was an important development ahead of COP-26 to demonstrate the UK's commitment to its sustainability targets. The UK is taking a leading role in the important issue of the safe removal of long-lasting in-orbit debris, as space becomes ever more populated. 

Education

Recruiting and training a skilled workforce is crucial to realising the government's plans in space. Alongside the home-grown talent at UK universities, the UK's new immigration system will work to prioritise the best global talent through Innovator and fast-track Global Talent Visas. In addition, the Space Skills Advisory Panel are taking measures to upskill the existing workforce and ensure practices adapt and engage with the latest technical innovations. These will be supplemented by working alongside businesses and schools to deliver apprenticeships and work placements in the industry.

What we can do to help

Foot Anstey is one of the only law firms outside London which provides specialist legal support to businesses and organisations in the space sector, both upstream and downstream. In the upstream, we have been supporting the world renowned Goonhilly Earth Station with a range of commercial legal services and advice. We also provide legal and business advice to two of the UK's proposed spaceports; supporting Spaceport Cornwall by advising on the legal and regulatory framework for launch under the Space Industry Act 2018, covering areas such as state aid, planning and environmental, property and infrastructure, and health & safety. In the downstream we collaborate with Aerospace Cornwall to deliver Intellectual Property and commercial legal advice to dozens of downstream space sector businesses, ranging from start-ups to SMEs.

Find out more about how Foot Anstey can launch your space project with our expertise in the space sector.