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EM3 Space and Clean Growth Sectors collaborate on Carbon Net Zero Innovation

Last updated 05 March 2021
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EM3 Space sector fuels clean growth

From mapping the Surrey’s butterfly population to assessing Hampshire rooftops for solar panel suitability, Enterprise M3’s space and low carbon sectors are collaborating on innovative projects to expand the region’s economy and support the UK’s move to carbon net zero.

The two sectors were brought together recently to discuss future innovative collaborations by Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which partnered with the Universities of Surrey and Portsmouth as well as the South Coast Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications, for ‘Satellite Applications for Clean Growth’ – an event delivered as part of the UK Space Agency’s Local Space Cluster Development Project.

We know we have real strengths in clean growth, we’ve many SMEs innovating towards a net-zero economy producing new services to help accelerate the transition.

We have a significant cluster of space and satellite companies and there are a growing number of businesses making use of space data for applications. This webinar was the first step into delving into whether these two sectors - clean growth and space - can add value to and encourage our region.

David Hutchinson , Innovation and Impact Development Manager, University of Portsmouth

The EM3 network of space and satellite businesses is currently valued at £9bn and has over 180 companies engaged in high-tech innovative work, employing more than 3000 local people. It was recently recognised by the government as one of only seven high potential space hub clusters in the UK.  The LEP also has 10% of the UK’s low carbon industries in its region and the event sought to see whether these two key industries in the region could collaborate to support the drive to net zero communities while simultaneously boosting the regional economy.

Space technology is already fuelling clean growth. Surrey University uses hi-res satellite imagery at Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to map habitats and species, particularly native butterflies, to support land management and public access without the need for demanding groundwork.

Basingstoke’s  Geoxphere, helps parish councils with neighbourhood planning and analysing pollution through its aerial and mobile mapping tools.

Southampton-based, Absolar, uses LiDAR data to analyse rooftops in the Portsmouth City Council area for solar panel suitability and to gauge post-installation energy, a labour and cost-saving alternative to sending an engineer.

This is the level of expertise we have here in the south and why partners are so keen to build a cluster between space and clean growth communities.

Elaine Kearney , Oxford Innovation

There are, however, challenges to expanding the sector, from locating projects to ensuring they continue on a local scale.

Tom Greenwood, European Space Agency, said: “Seventy per cent of the UK space sector is built on data, we are world-leaders but we have the challenge of where we can apply that data in order to grow. This is where the clean growth agenda comes in.”

Connor Mc Sharry, UK Space Agency, added: “There are lots of applications but the challenge we have is getting solutions and techniques into service, so the impact of the project can continue to be felt after it ends.”

Satellite Applications for Clean Growth was the third in a series of webinars supported by the EM3 LEP which is leading the way in supporting cross-sector R&D in its key high growth industries by bringing together academic research and commercial business to explore opportunities for collaboration.

Enterprise M3 LEP will be hosting more webinars in partnership with the sector. Contact

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