ESA Launch New UK Space Research Center


Leading industrialists and academics from across the world have witnessed the launch of the European Space Agency (ESA)’s first ever UK base at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus (HSIC). As part of a two day event (22nd and 23rd July), ESA saw for themselves the world-leading research and technology facilities already at the campus and at its sister Science and Innovation Campus in Daresbury.

Lord Drayson, the UK’s Minister for Science and Innovation, attended the launch event in London on 22nd July where representatives from industry, academia and other government departments heard how the ESA facility will focus upon three key areas: combining data and images from space to create new applications for everyday life; climate change modelling; and the development of novel power sources and innovative robotic technologies to explore space.

The establishment of the new ESA facility will capitalise on the UK’s world-leading expertise in space science, earth observation and related technologies. The ESA facility is expected to be a key element of a much wider vision for the future of the UK’s fast-growing space economy, through the creation of an International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC) at Harwell.

During a visit to HSIC on the 23rd July representatives from US and European aerospace companies were shown the opportunities available through co-location onto the campus. On the same day, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) hosted a visit from ESA officials to the Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus, Harwell’s twin centre in Cheshire. The aim of the Daresbury visit was to show how the campus’s successful collaborative and interdisciplinary approach is working in practice and to inform the future development of the ESA facility in the UK and the wider proposed ISIC project.

Professor Keith Mason, Chief Executive of the STFC said: ‘’Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus is a world-class centre of innovative and leading-edge research and technology. It provides a critical mass of high technology and cutting edge research that stimulates the development and commercialisation of new technologies and products. Since its opening in 2005 nearly 100 high-tech businesses have made Daresbury SIC their home as a direct result of the way it successfully integrates and exploits science and technology programmes leading to new applications across a wide range of disciplines and commercial sectors. Daresbury and Harwell Science and Innovation Campuses are leading the way in finding solutions to the global challenges we face in healthcare, environment, energy and security by bringing together and promoting innovation, knowledge sharing, collaboration and networking between scientists, academics and industrialists”.

Martin Ditter, Project Manager of the ESA facility added: “This is a very exciting time for ESA and I was delighted to be able to visit the national Science and Innovation Campus at Daresbury to see first-hand how the research community and businesses are working collaboratively to increase the impact of UK science. I am looking forward to working with STFC and its partners at both Science and Innovation Campuses to develop a similar model at a European level for the ESA facility based at Harwell”.

Dr. Sally Ann Forsyth, Director of Science Parks at Goodman, the development partner for Harwell said: “Harwell is a world class location for science and innovation, and the arrival of the European Space Agency underlines these credentials. Working alongside our joint venture partners we are building on Harwell’s rich history as a place that fosters open innovation and collaboration between businesses, research organisations, and academia. As a result, we are confident that Harwell will continue to attract major interest from other companies.”