Northumbria University announces £50m space skills, research and development centre

Northumbria University, Newcastle has secured a total of £50m in funding to create a ‘world-leading’ space skills, research and technology centre in the North East of England.

Major funding awards that were confirmed today from the UK Space Agency and global aerospace giant, Lockheed Martin have been match-funded by the University itself to create the North East Space Skills and Technology Centre. The centre, which will be known as NESST, will be a “game-changer” for the UK space economy.

NESST is expected to directly support the creation of over 350 jobs and inject over £260m into the North East economy over the next 30 years, playing a critical role in the government’s levelling-up agenda and immediately becoming a catalyst for the wider development of the UK space sector in the North East region.

Announced yesterday during the UK Space Conference, the UK Space Agency has awarded £10m to Northumbria University to support the development of NESST.

In addition to this, Lockheed Martin committed a further £15m investment in NESST to work with Northumbria’s experts on collaborative research, technology development, in-demand skills provision and STEM engagement activities over a 10-year period. Through this strategic agreement, Lockheed Martin will become the first anchor tenant in NESST.

In recognition of the University’s excellence in all aspects of space research, and the ‘transformative’ impact of NESST on the North East region and beyond, Northumbria University confirmed it would match-fund the UK Space Agency and Lockheed Martin awards with a further £25m, bringing the overall total investment in NESST to £50m.

Located in the heart of Northumbria University’s Newcastle city campus, NESST will be a new national space asset that brings together industry and academia to collaborate on internationally significant space research and technological developments.

NESST will put the UK at the forefront of research and innovation in areas including optical satellite communications, space weather and space-based energy, and will lead the way in providing specialist education and training to ensure the UK space sector has the highly skilled workers it needs in the future.

Professor Andy Long, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University, commented: “This is a pivotal moment, not just for Northumbria University, but for the wider North East region and indeed, for the UK space sector as a whole.

“This catalytic funding from both the UK Space Agency and Lockheed Martin recognises the world-leading excellence in all aspects of space research at Northumbria University. Quite simply, NESST will be a game-changer for the whole of the North East, ensuring the region becomes a major hub for innovation in the global space economy.”

By Matthew Neville – Senior Correspondent, Bdaily

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