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Celebrating three years of the UK-Australia Space Bridge

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UK Space Agency CEO, Dr Paul Bate and Head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo. Credit: Andy Steven.
UK Space Agency CEO, Dr Paul Bate and Head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo. Credit: Andy Steven.

The UK and Australia have a longstanding relationship when it comes to space, from the Black Arrow rocket launches from Woomera in the late 1960s, to the signing of the UK-Australia Space Bridge framework agreement half a century later.

Today (23rd February 2024) marks another milestone as we celebrate the third anniversary of the UK-Australia Space Bridge.

A world first, the Space Bridge is a framework that aims to strengthen the relationship between the UK and Australian space sectors by opening doors, starting conversations, and uniting over shared goals.

Supported by the UK Space Agency, Department for Business and Trade (DBT), Australian Space Agency and Austrade, the Space Bridge Framework focuses on areas such as:

  • government-to-government collaboration on space programmes and technology
  • trade and investment
  • knowledge-sharing, research, and education
UK Space Agency colleagues at the 16th Australian Space Forum.
UK Space Agency colleagues at the 16th Australian Space Forum.

Since the framework was signed, it has increased engagement and significantly improved access for public and private stakeholders across both space sectors. As the Space Bridge enters its fourth year, this is an apt opportunity to look back at the successes it has generated so far, including:

  • in collaboration with our Australian colleagues, we invested £250,000 - approximately half a million AUD - in five projects that saw UK and Australia join forces on developments in Earth observation, next-generation satellite networks, monitoring Antarctic sea-ice, improving crop production, and satellite quantum encryption.
  • in 2023, the UK government committed £1 million (1.9 million AUD) towards an Earth observation collaboration on AgroClimate work that will help farmers manage the challenges imposed by climate change.
  • to provide insight into the Australian space ecosystem and highlight opportunities to collaborate, DBT facilitated workshops for UK SMEs on trade policy, export regulations, finance, and tax. In partnership with Austrade and the Australian Space Agency, DBT also ran two separate trade missions in2023, for UK companies to meet Australian counterparts, attend space-focused events in Australia and tour a range of facilities across the country.
  • with a global audience of up to 1,000 attendees, the virtual UK and Australia roadshows showcasing key strategies, strengths, and capabilities of the space sector in 2021, were instrumental in facilitating engagement between UK and Australian investors and collaborators across industry and academia.
  • collaboration to extend the UK Space Capabilities Catalogue space supply chain mapping tool to cover Australia, which will help to identify gaps in either market, highlighting opportunities for collaboration and growth.
  • through Phase 1 of the UK Space Agency’s International Bilateral Fund, we supported 8 projects with Australian partners across government, academia, and industry.

The most recent highlight was UK Space Agency colleagues joining DBT’s trade mission to Australia in December 2023, where they attended the 16th Australian Space Forum - with UK Space Agency CEO Dr Paul Bate delivering an international keynote speech - and travelled across states to engage with the Australian space sector; sharing ideas and identifying new opportunities to work together.

UK Space Agency CEO Dr Paul Bate speaking on a panel at the 16th Australian Space Forum.
UK Space Agency CEO Dr Paul Bate speaking on a panel at the 16th Australian Space Forum.

Reflecting on the achievements of the Space Bridge, Dr Paul Bate said:

The UK-Australia Space Bridge connects us with our Australian colleagues. It has unlocked greater innovation, promoted the exchange of knowledge, and forged new partnerships. Above all, it has bolstered a sense of collaborative ambition to strengthen both space sectors, as the team that recently went out to Australia saw first-hand.

"The UK-Australia partnership is a priority for the UK, and we look forward to driving forward initiatives via the Space Bridge.

Head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, says the partnership supports space sector growth in applications that positively impact our planet:

Space Bridge activities are demonstrating how working together in space drives outcomes across our economies.

"In three years this partnership has driven investment and established new connections that are helping our respective space sectors develop applications that benefit life on Earth.

On today’s occasion of celebrating this historic agreement, we are excited to launch our joint ‘Soft Landing Zones’ guide, which provides more information on hubs and clusters to individuals and companies that are exploring working in the UK or Australia and look forward to working closely our Australian counterparts on further collaboration.

Email for more information.

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