Today marks the first anniversary of the Space Bridge between UK and Australia - a partnership focused on facilitating collaboration between the two countries space sectors.
Image courtesy UK Space Agency (UKSA)
A world first, the Space Bridge has unlocked improved access to trade, investment and academic research opportunities, better advice to businesses and innovative bilateral collaborations.
The arrangement enhances cooperation between the UK and Australian space sector to work on space-related activities, from sharing Earth Observation data to collaborating on robotic and artificial intelligence.
Several exciting initiatives have taken place since the signing last year, including the Department for International Trade-led UK Space Export Academy collaboration, which facilitated workshops for UK SMEs on trade policy, export regulations, finance and tax, insight into the Australian space landscape and practical advice on business pitching. The graduation event in September 2021 enabled 23 individual engagements between UK companies and Australian industry, academia and government.
With a global audience of up to 1,000 attendees, the virtual UK and Australia roadshows showcasing key strategies, strengths and capabilities of the space sector last year were instrumental in facilitating engagement between UK and Australian investors and collaborators across industry and academia.
The first funding call launched under the UK-Australia Space Bridge has also been hugely successful, with five collaborative research projects receiving a total of £250,000 from SmartSat CRC and the Satellite Applications Catapult, with the support of the UK Science and Innovation Network. Digital Content Analysis Technology Ltd, OneWeb and Spire Global UK were among those to benefit from the funding and are currently working on the projects due to be completed by the end of June 2022.
Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: "Although separated by many seas, the Space Bridge has connected the UK and Australia in whole new ways. It is unlocking greater innovation, promoting the exchange of knowledge and forging new partnerships to maximise the vast potential of our growing space sectors.
"The Space Bridge is a prime example of how we can join forces with our partners to catalyse investment and help meet the UK’s increased ambitions in space. International collaboration is a key pillar of the UK National Space Strategy and we are proud to be working with our Australian colleagues to leverage resources and opportunities from across Government, industry, academia, and private investors – driving forward this exciting initiative."
Sam Adlen, Chief Strategy Officer at the Satellite Applications Catapult said: "As the Space Bridge reaches its first anniversary, it is clear that strong foundations have been laid. It has been great to work with impressive Australian colleagues, and to see the partnerships developing and the potential future impact that will be delivered. The opportunity for space enabled growth is only growing, and the strong ties between the UK and Australia will enable the capacity and utility of the space bridge to grow significantly for the benefit of both countries and citizens globally."
The UK-Australia partnership is a priority for the UK space sector, bolstered further by the UK’s recent £1m commitment for Earth Observation in Agroclimate to help farmers deal with climate change.