In Innovation

The North East has been selected as one of the UK’s leading centres in satellite technology, allowing companies to tap into a market which is expected to exceed £40bn by 2030.

The region has been designated one of the first three centres of excellence in the country by the Satellite Applications Catapult, part of the UK’s network of technology and innovation companies, to drive economic growth in key sectors.

The North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence is a regional consortium led by Business Durham the economic development company for County Durham and including Business and Enterprise Group, Smart Specialisation Ltd, the region’s five universities and both Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and will work with businesses wanting help and advice to break into the satellite applications industry or get more support for current work.

Satellite applications, data and technology is a rapidly developing sector with the market growing by an average of 7% each year since 2008. Latest developments include satellite systems using earth observation tools to monitor and track building control and satellite based radar to track ground and building movements in areas prone to landslides or subsidence.

Stuart Martin, CEO of the Catapult, said: “The North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence offers an impressive partnership looking at opportunities to unlock a range of high value market opportunities within the region. The new centre will ensure the successful commercialisation of new technology and innovation, cementing the UK’s position in key technology sectors.”

The Centre will provide North East businesses with access to the tools and support to tap into a market that is continually growing. One of the key objectives of the Centre is to engage regional companies in solving industrial problems using satellite data and technology. These solutions are typically high value with the opportunity to export into global markets.

John Hildreth, North East Satellite Applications Catapult Centre of Excellence Manager, said: “This is a hugely exciting and developing sector and we are delighted to be working with our partners to provide a Centre of Excellence for the North East. The bid that we prepared covered regional issues and looked at the application of satellite data in sectors such as the offshore oil, gas and renewable as well as the transport and logistics allowing companies in the North East to gain a competitive advantage. Securing Centre of Excellence status also adds to the regions ever-growing reputation as a leader in scientific innovation”.

Graeme Gordon, Global Commercial Director of Satcom Global Limited said: “As a provider of global satellite communication solutions based in North East, we are delighted to hear that the Satellite Applications Catapult will be launching a Centre for Excellence here in the region. This initiative will provide us and other like-minded technology companies with access to a much needed forum for the sharing of industry expertise, and identifying opportunities for collaboration.

Satcom Global is committed to driving satellite solutions innovation in the remote-land, maritime and aviation sectors, offering a global commercial outlet for solutions developed and championed here in the North East of England. We are very excited about working with the North East Centre for Excellence, sharing our knowledge and strong industry links, bringing mutual benefit to the region.”

Professor Roy Sandbach, Innovation Champion for the North East Local Enterprise Partnership commented: “Winning the competition to host this Centre is a vote of confidence in North East business and in the consortium of development agencies and Universities who brought forward this proposal, led by Business Durham.

The North East Strategic Economic Plan sets out a clear strategy for the future of the North East economy – at the heart of which is the creation of business growth, investment and good quality jobs through innovation, with a focus on our key industries. Many of these, including sub-sea manufacturing, automotive, digital and health sciences might benefit from engagement with satellite application technologies and the people who develop them. In addition, there may be significant opportunities for applications in our public services. Having this Centre here creates a hub for innovation dialogue and inward innovation investment. Exactly what we need.

Overall, our aim is for the North East to be recognised as a unique environment for new technology application. It’s great that the Satellite Catapult has recognised this regional goal”.

Stephen Catchpole, Managing Director of Tees Valley Unlimited, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Tees Valley, added: “Being awarded Centre of Excellence status is important as it will contribute to the expansion and diversification of the local economy.

“It also will help give companies a competitive edge, placing them at the forefront of high value new technologies and innovation and enable them to tap into new business opportunities both at home and abroad.”

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