Wantage is More Space Age than Some Might Think

This article originally appeared in the Herald Newspaper on 3rd July 2019.

Whilst it is often assumed by some in Westminster that Wantage is predominantly a rural and agricultural constituency, I am proud to say that places like Harwell and Milton Park continue to be at the forefront of science, technology, the digital revolution and research.

Last week I visited Harwell Campus for an event showcasing the best of the Harwell Space Cluster.

The space cluster is made up of organisations with a presence at Harwell Campus that is related to space.

It could be the technology that goes into space, applications derived from space data or even technology that was used for space but is now applied to new markets.

Organisations and companies that maintain a presence on the campus include the European Space Agency, the Satellite Applications Catapult, RAL Space, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (UK Research and Innovation), and the UK Space Agency.

The Cluster has now reached 92 organisations, which collectively employ 1,040 – an increase of 90 jobs since November 2018. This follows an increase the previous year of 150 jobs, creating a positive impact on the local economy, as most of these employees live locally or have moved to the area.

The strength of the Harwell Space Cluster lies in its ability to unite the public sector with fast growth SMEs/ multinationals to collaborate, co-fund, and problem solve, in order to develop innovative technologies that ultimately create new markets, resulting in job creation and economic growth. The organisations within the Harwell Space Cluster are delivering on the UK vision to achieve 10 per cent of the global market share by 2030.

The wide range of activities undertaken by members of the cluster at Harwell include those that are looking at being the ‘AA’ of the space industry – that is the ability to service satellites in space and companies that are looking to remove satellites that are no longer working and other space debris.

Others are developing small satellites and technology to go onto them; companies that are using space data to predict water leaks and identify tree species and tell you when you need to put on sun tan lotion. The applications and uses for space products appear almost endless.

We should all be proud that these cutting edge organisations have made Wantage their home and delighted that we are able to enjoy the benefits they bring not only to our local economy but the wider benefits as well.