Press Release

Multi-Million Pound Funding Package Pledged for UK Space Centre of Excellence in Ayrshire, Scotland

By SpaceRef Editor
November 23, 2020
Filed under , ,

A commitment to invest over £80m in a UK Space Centre of Excellence in Ayrshire, was made by both UK and Scottish Governments, in partnership with South Ayrshire Council, as part of the Ayrshire Growth Deal signing yesterday.

The funding package will develop and support a wide range of new, cutting-edge aerospace and space activities around Glasgow Prestwick Airport, including a satellite launch site and a range of other advanced technology initiatives beyond space launch.

This significant investment forms part of an even larger £250m package that was announced via the Ayrshire Growth Deal Head of Terms agreement 18 months ago.  This saw the Scotland Office pledge to invest £103 million in the region over the next 15 years, alongside £103 million from the Scottish Government over 10 years, augmented with further investment from the three local authority areas of East, North and South Ayrshire. This will help drive economic development across the region, create new employment opportunities and encourage further inward investment.

Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, referred to the announcement as, “a landmark moment for Ayrshire”, adding that the Deal would have a “profound positive impact on the region for generations to come”.

The signing of a deal of this size reinforces Ayrshire’s position as a leading UK aerospace hub. The region already employs over 3,500 people in global companies such as Spirit AeroSystems; BAE Systems; GE Aviation; Collins Aerospace; Woodward and National Air Traffic Services (NATS), accounting for more than half of the aerospace industry’s workforce in Scotland. The financial boost aims to add another 4,000 jobs by 2035, helping Ayrshire capitalise on the exciting opportunities offered by the fast-growing commercial space sector.

Ian Annett, Deputy CEO, UK Space Agency said, “The deal will deliver another boost to the UK’s growing space sector by funding a range of new, cutting-edge aerospace activities around Glasgow Prestwick Airport, including development of the spaceport site”.

“This will not only create highly-skilled jobs across the region, but also further the UK’s reputation as Europe’s leading new space destination and bring us one step closer to small satellite launches taking place in the UK.”

£80m of the Growth Deal investment will be used specifically to help realise Ayrshire’s vision of creating a leading cluster, for both space, and wider aerospace supply chain activity. Detailed plans are already in place for a spaceport development that would provide the capability to launch small satellites from within Europe for the first time, utilising modified aircraft that would begin their journeys from Glasgow Prestwick Airport. These aircraft will carry out rocket launches at high altitude and provide access to the orbits required to observe Earth’s changing climate from above. The technique, known as ‘horizontal’ or ‘air’ launch, would make use of the existing infrastructure and coastal location at Prestwick, and the capability to launch satellites could make the UK a ‘one stop shop’ for commercial space companies.

Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation Ivan McKee said: “The signing of the Ayrshire Growth Deal marks another major milestone in our journey toward the delivery of a world-leading commercial space sector. This is an exciting time for the emerging space sector globally, and Scotland is at the very forefront of it. In particular, the sector will play a critical role in the global fight against climate change with satellites used to measure essential climate variables”.

“In Scotland we already produce more small satellites anywhere outside of California and the provision of horizontal launch capability at Prestwick will further complement the launch offering across the country. This deal represents a major opportunity to inspire the next generation of space scientists and engineers as well as to deliver a major economic boost for Ayrshire.”

The innovative space activity, enabled by the ambitious Aerospace and Space Programme element of the Ayrshire Growth Deal, is expected to provide a host of opportunities beyond launch, too. The additional interconnected projects which are being planned include a technical innovation centre to support UK business and academia, a national flight test centre with training facilities for skills development, and an educational outreach and visitor centre. The deal also provides for various commercial building developments and improvements to the region’s transport infrastructure — improving quality of life for local residents and providing an opportunity for Ayrshire to profit from the rapid growth of the space sector. 

John Innes, Chair of the Scottish Space Leadership Council described the announcement as “An exciting development that will ensure the UK remains at the forefront of new space applications, and keeps pace with the high-speed developments characteristic of the industrial space sector.”  

While Leader of South Ayrshire Council, Councillor Peter Henderson said, “The signing of the Ayrshire Growth Deal marks a huge moment in our plans for enhancing Prestwick’s already established aerospace reputation. 

 “I very much look forward to seeing vibrant, on-site, space activity that goes beyond launch facilities.”



For more information, please contact Jim Johnstone, Economic Regeneration Team at South Ayrshire Council – [email protected]

Notes to Editor:

The Ayrshire Growth Deal represents the largest ever investment by the public sector into the region. Ayrshire has a strong heritage in aerospace, engineering, life sciences, manufacturing and tourism. Targeted investment through the Growth Deal across these key sectors and in strategic locations will act as a powerful catalyst stimulating growth and resulting in increased prosperity for the local region, Scotland and for the UK as a whole.

The Deal, which was signed at a virtual event on 19 November, signals major investment into the region. The three Council Leaders, Councillors Douglas Reid, Joe Cullinane and Peter Henderson, joined the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Mathieson MSP, and Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack MP, in signing the Deal which ratified the implementation and financial arrangements.

Ayrshire Growth Deal has a number of priorities, namely: Aerospace and Space, Economic Infrastructure, Tourism and Energy, Circular Economy and Environment.

The major projects include:

  • £80 million investment that will position Ayrshire as one of the UK’s leading centres of Aerospace and Space activity
  • £9 million investment into transformational HALO regeneration project in Kilmarnock
  • £23.5 million to create the Ayrshire Manufacturing Investment Corridor (AMIC)
  • £16 million Ayrshire Engineering Park will provide expansion and development of Moorfield industrial Park in Kilmarnock, creating serviced and high-quality business space
  • £21 million investment into the i3 area of Irvine building on current Life Science businesses on site
  • £14 million tourism investment at Irvine Harbourside and Ardeer peninsula
  • £9.5 million in Marine Tourism, which will focus on securing infrastructure that supports key components, such as sailing and boating, marine leisure, and recreation
  • £24.5 million National Energy Research Demonstrator Project (NERD)
  • £18 million for the Centre for Research into Low Carbon Energy and Circular Economy (CECE) at the Hunterston Strategic West Scotland Industrial Hub
  • £10.5 million for a new International Marine Science and Environmental Centre (IMSE) based at Ardrossan
  • £11 million for a subsea fibre optic cable to have its landing point in Irvine
  • £8.5 million for a skills and inclusion programme
  • £3 million Community Wealth Building project
  • £3 million in digital connectivity

SpaceRef staff editor.