A thriving space sector is good news for us all

This week’s announcement that the Government will contribute £99 million-worth of funding to the Harwell campus is clearly great news for Oxfordshire, the wider Oxfordshire economy and one of our county’s leading industries.

In Oxfordshire – around 12,000 people are employed in the space sector and space-related technologies, many of whom are based at Harwell.

This further investment – which is specifically being put towards a National Satellite Testing Facility (artist's impression above) – is likely to encourage many more professionals in the sector to consider Oxfordshire as their place of work.

It’s this kind of investment that also supports a strong Oxfordshire economy and – as a county – gives us the ability to make substantial progress in meeting a 2031 target of 85,600 new jobs.

Already – Oxfordshire has seen the creation of 45,000 new jobs over the last five years.

This investment also means Harwell’s position as a leading science, innovation, technology and business campus is further underlined.

This financial backing sits alongside other major Oxfordshire investment in the space sector, such as the £100 million Rosalind Franklin Institute – also at Harwell – and major initiatives at Culham Science Centre, like the Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE) facility.

It means our county will continue to appeal to ambitious professionals – both nationally and even internationally – encouraging them to work in Oxfordshire, contributing to a thriving sector and, in turn, to our county’s economy.

Being in a position to attract to Oxfordshire the world’s best space and space technology experts is impressive, but equally – having stand-out locations on our doorstep that inspires young people into the field of science – is really important too.

Since OxLEP’s inception in 2011, we have secured – in total – £8.5 million-worth of funding, specifically supporting the development of the Advanced Engineering and Technology Skills Centre at Abingdon and Witney College, as well as the Oxfordshire Centre for Technology and Innovation at City of Oxford College.

Of course, not everyone will necessarily go on to work at Harwell or Culham – however, these exciting developments not only demonstrate what a key player Oxfordshire is within the UK space sector, but also the positive influence this thriving area of work has on our economy as a whole.

Nigel Tipple
Chief Executive – OxLEP