A group of Scottish start-ups and technology companies, including Earth Blox, Krucial, Terrabotics, and Trade in Space, recently presented to a receptive audience of Swiss and international sustainability experts, companies, and investors. This event, supported by Space Scotland, Scottish Development International, the University of Edinburgh, and the British Embassy in Berne, focused on the theme of “Space Data, Earth Observation, and Environmental, Social, and Governance.”
The Scottish Government launched the Scottish Space Strategy in October 2021, aiming to establish Scotland as a global leader in commercial space development and create 20,000 jobs by 2030. A key aspect of the strategy is the development of a world-leading environmental strategy for Scotland’s space industry, focusing on reducing emissions and utilizing satellite data for environmental monitoring.
Scotland’s space industry has seen significant growth and is now Europe’s leading manufacturing location for small satellites. The commercial space market contributes around £4 billion annually to the Scottish economy. The country’s rich space industry encompasses various aspects, including building, launching, and data analysis. Scotland benefits from a highly educated workforce and world-class institutions like the University of Strathclyde. The expertise gained from early space start-ups, such as Clyde Space, has resulted in the emergence of innovative companies, making Scotland’s space economy truly world-class.
The introduction of sustainability elements into Scotland’s space strategy has positioned Scottish space businesses to take advantage of applications for space science. Satellite manufacturers in Scotland are working on applications like detecting and monitoring wildfires, supporting disaster relief, and detecting illegal fishing. Earth observation companies are harnessing space data to provide actionable insights for various sectors, including agriculture and forestry.
Satellite sensing enables real-time tracking of environmental and social impacts, making it an ideal tool for monitoring compliance with environmental regulations and voluntary agreements. Scotland is building infrastructure to support entrepreneurship in space science, with clusters established across the country. Innovation centers like Censis and the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre offer support to those building businesses and advancing ideas.
However, the full potential of Scotland’s space industry and its benefits to different sectors and environmental causes need to be shared with the wider public. As Scotland moves closer to realizing its full value chain capability, it is important to highlight the opportunities that intelligence from satellites, many of which are built in Scotland, can bring.
Scotland’s growing space industry, supported by governmental and organizational initiatives, coupled with its sustainability focus, positions it as a frontrunner in commercial space development and environmental monitoring.