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Space South Central going beyond for business

December 13, 2023

Space South Central is the UK’s largest regional space cluster, and their base is here in Portsmouth. Dr Louise Butt, Director of Space South Central Enterprise Network, explains how businesses can benefit from their work.

Based in Portsmouth since 2016, Space South Central is a UK Space Agency-funded initiative to support and champion the space sector across Hampshire, Surrey and the Isle of Wight. With the University of Portsmouth as one of its founding partners, Space South Central brings businesses and academia together, boosting innovation and growth and helping organisations in other sectors such as finance, defence and marine maritime – areas which are considered particularly important for Portsmouth – explore how they can benefit from space data and technology.

Dr Louise Butt says: “We really try to build awareness and help organisations large and small understand how to integrate space data and technologies to improve efficiencies within their business.”

Dr Butt explains that there are broad ways in which space impacts our lives. From navigation systems to satellite communications and even financial transactions, space technologies play a large role in the technology we use every day.

Space South Central works with businesses of all sizes, from student entrepreneurs and start-ups to larger companies such as Airbus and Spur Electron, a local company in Havant with over 40 years of experience in the space industry. Dr Butt urges businesses within Portsmouth to network with Space South Central as their expertise in space data can improve their work.

The cluster has found success through a range of activities, such as Orbit South Central, a free monthly networking event that attracts national speakers and helping companies access funding, facilities and expertise to develop new projects  With partners in Singapore, the cluster has been awarded funding to conduct a large-scale project to tackle climate change.

Portsmouth became the cluster’s ideal base because of the city’s long history in the defence industry and its coastal location for activities such as manufacturing. Dr Butt describes Portsmouth as having “almost a perfect ecosystem around it.” Looking into the future, Space South Central is exploring further opportunities within the defence sector.

“From a local and international picture, defence takes up a lot of space services, so it’s about looking at how we can bring that community together.”

Reaching for the stars, Space Central South intends to continue educating more people on the benefits of space and growing the sector, with a particular emphasis on skills. She says:

“We want to encourage the next generation to look at space as a legitimate career. It’s not just astronauts and rocket scientists: the space sector needs accountants, communications experts, business development people, as well as adult learners.  To continue to thrive and grow, the region’s space sector needs lots of experienced people and many different skills, so this is a key priority.”

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