UK and Singapore step up commitment to support innovation and trade

Innovation leaders in the UK and Singapore have reinforced their commitment to jointly support investment and trade between the 2 nations.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and Singapore Space and Technology Limited (SSTL) have signed a new partnership agreement at the Global Space and Technology Convention 2023 in Singapore.

This agreement will support the 2 organisations to accelerate the growth of space tech start-ups by providing them with the tools, expertise and access they need to thrive on a global scale.

Building on past success

This follows an initial agreement last year that kickstarted joint efforts to support Singapore and UK-based space tech start-ups for commercial development and help them reach international markets.

The agreement has resulted in several initiatives supported by the former Department of International Trade (DIT), which include:

  • commercial collaborations with In-Space Missions to organise the Asia Pacific rideshare mission
  • the formation of a UK-Singapore joint venture between Singaporean start-up Navigate Commodities and UK based Earth-i

It also builds on several other successful science and innovation collaborations between STFC and Singaporean organisations. This includes the £10 million jointly funded Speqtre mission which is led by STFC’s RAL Space in the UK and SpeQtral in Singapore.

In doing so it contributes to efforts in the UK and Singapore to grow the space and quantum technologies sectors.

Committing to closer collaboration

The new agreement will see both parties deepen their partnership to kickstart new initiatives in strategically valuable areas for the UK and Singapore.

Examples of areas that future collaborations will focus on include:

  • reciprocal access to Asia Pacific and European venture capital ecosystems for potential investment
  • reciprocal access to test facilities and resources, supportive infrastructure and national laboratories
  • UK-based space tech start-ups to be considered for SSTL’s Space Accelerator Programme
  • Singapore-based space tech start-ups to be considered for the European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre UK (ESA BIC UK)
  • access for Singapore-based space tech start-ups to the European Space Agency (ESA) network
  • developing collaborations between UK-based and Singapore-based universities for knowledge transfer and capability building

STFC manages and co-funds the ESA BIC UK, in partnership with the UK Space Agency, ESA Space Solutions and the University of Leicester. It is part of the world’s largest business incubation programme for space tech start-ups.

Developing space tech start-ups

STFC Executive Director for Business and Innovation, Paul Vernon, said:

Space is one of the most innovative and fastest growing industrial sectors in the world. However, for a start-up business, using space technologies to create new and profitable products or services can be a challenging process.

Successful start-ups are essential to our future prosperity, binging tangible benefits to our economy and society. STFC has a firm commitment to provide the best environment possible for them to innovate and grow, and collaboration is key.

There has never been a more exciting time for a business to get involved in the space industry and the opportunities it can bring. I look forward to our continued partnership with Singapore Space and Technology Limited as we support our space tech start-ups in their mission to innovate, flourish and succeed in global markets.

Substantive and important partnership

British High Commissioner to Singapore, Kara Owen, said:

The UK space sector is valued at £16.5bn and is a fast growing and important part of our economy. We are investing to enable scientists and engineers to participate in some of the world’s most important space missions.

To get truly successful though, our sector needs to optimise its international connections. Our space partnership with Singapore is a priority for our sector so working with SSTL, the leading space organisation in Southeast Asia, makes absolute sense.

This agreement will make a very practical and multi-year contribution to building space sectors in both countries. It will provide practical support, access to funding, to testing and other facilities and will deliver more commercial partnerships and joint innovation. I congratulate STFC and SSTL putting in place such a substantive and important partnership.

Top image:  The signing event, left to right: Harshbir Sangha (Director of Growth, UK Space Agency), H.E. Kara Owen (High Commissioner, British High Commission), Amy Farrington (Head of Business Incubation, STFC), Lynette Tan (Chief Executive, SSTL) and Johnathan Hung (Executive Chairman, SSTL). Credit: STFC

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