Development agency secures space expertise as it targets economic growth

Left to Right: AstroAgency founder Daniel Smith, Pete Guthrie of HIE and AstroAgency Chief Operating Officer Daria Filichkina

HIGHLANDS and Islands Enterprise (HIE), a governmental economic development agency focused on supporting a region of the UK with four developing spaceports and wider space cluster activity, has engaged Scottish headquartered commercial space industry experts, AstroAgency to provide specialist advice. 

Having worked with close to sixty space clients worldwide, including private innovators across satellite manufacture, launch and data science, as well as several government projects across the UK, Australia, Switzerland and the Middle East, AstroAgency were selected following a competitive tender process that concluded recently. 

The company responded to the opportunity with the support of several specialist subcontractors, any of which can be brought in to tackle projects set by HIE depending on the skillset and scope of work requested, across the duration of the framework agreement. 

AstroAgency has gone from strength to strength since establishment in 2019 as the first full-service, strategic communications and marketing agency dedicated to the rapidly evolving commercial Space Sector worldwide. 

The firm’s combination of space industry experience, sector-specific market intelligence and business guidance services, together with its strategic approach to communications and outreach, is expected to be of huge value to a global industry that continues to flourish and attract investment despite continuing geopolitical unrest. 

The news comes as a further boost to Scotland’s growing space industry, with the Highlands and Islands home to Shetland-based SaxaVord Spaceport, Sutherland Spaceport, Machrihanish Spaceport in Argyll and sub-orbital focused Spaceport 1 in North Uist. The developing North Coast space cluster is already home to companies such as Orbex, an orbital launch vehicle developer that has already created around 100 skilled jobs in Moray and will build and operate Sutherland Spaceport. 

The region has also attracted interest from some of the biggest names in the lucrative small satellite launch market, including UK based Skyrora, German rocket firms HyImpulse and Rocket Factory Augsburg, as well as ABL Space Systems from the United States. 

Earlier this year, despite operational challenges caused by the invasion of Ukraine, AstroAgency announced the onboarding of new clients including Glasgow-based Spire Space Services, a publicly-listed company that has built and launched more than 160 satellites. 

The space-focused promotions and intelligence agency also increased its scope of work with leading global space and satellite market intelligence firm, Euroconsult, component manufacturer Alpha Data and space situational awareness company Spaceflux, as well as signing new contracts to support ground station providers Leaf Space, Manchester University spin-out SmartIR and EOLAS, a company using data from satellites as part of their solution to identify and monitor animal groups for conservation purposes. 

On the government side, AstroAgency has added new government communications contracts with the UK Space Agency’s space sustainability team and the Swiss Business Hub, part of the Embassy of Switzerland in London. 

Last month the firm announced its leadership of a new UK Space Agency International Bilateral Fund project, matching UK Earth Observation capabilities with opportunities in the Middle East in partnership with the National Space Science Agency of Bahrain and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, home of the UAE Space programme. 

Pete Guthrie who leads on the Space Sector for HIE said: “We are delighted to have AstroAgency on board to help us generate new jobs and prosperity for our region from the Space Sector. The eyes of the world are increasingly on the Space sector in the Highlands and Islands, we are very excited to be engaging AstroAgency, whose expertise and international outlook will add value to our in-house knowledge and experience.”  

AstroAgency’s Chief Technology Officer, Richard Osborne stated: “It’s hugely exciting to win a long-term framework agreement with a Scottish Government agency seeking to create employment opportunities, deliver new revenue stream opportunities for local businesses and inspire young people to consider a career in the space sector.  

As a global firm that started its journey in Scotland, we’re looking forward to delivering high quality, impactful work, in partnership with our selected team of highly experienced space industry veterans , for a region that is of increasing strategic importance to the UK’s space proposition, as it seeks to underline its position as the home of European spaceflight.  

The Scottish Space Strategy has targeted a £4bn share of a global market that continues to grow, with satellite-sourced data in high demand due to its role in supporting environmental protection efforts and a wide variety of business sectors, through services that include geolocation and Earth Observation. 

The Scottish and wider UK space sector have placed strong emphasis on a sustainable approach to space activity, with the world’s first space sustainability roadmap being produced earlier this year by AstroAgency and Optimat to support the efforts of Space Scotland’s Environmental Task Force. 

The collaboration between Highlands and Islands Enterprise and AstroAgency is set to run for an initial two-year period. 

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