London, England – Leading space experts from Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa are touring the United Kingdom’s (UK) top space research, manufacturing and launch facilities this week. Organised by Innovate UK and Research and Innovation Systems for Africa (RISA), with support from the Research Institute of Innovation and Sustainability (RIIS) – the delegation of African space innovators, entrepreneurs and government officials are meeting their British counterparts to share insights and explore opportunities for collaboration and partnership.
Taking place from 4 – 8 December 2023, the ‘UK-Africa Space-Technology Knowledge Exchange Tour’ includes a series of presentations, roundtable discussions, and site-visits across England and Scotland. Participants will examine the UK’s challenges, opportunities, and experiences in building sustainable space ecosystems. Avenues for joint research, development, and commercial partnership between the UK and Africa will also be discussed.
Alana Kruger, Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Manager for South Africa, commented on the tour by saying: “The UK is a world-leader in space, specifically in the manufacturing and launch capability fields, but also in areas such as finance, law, education, and ecosystem development. These are all components of a growing and sustainable space sector. Our focus is on giving our African partners an opportunity to interrogate how these elements contribute to a robust space ecosystem, and explore how they can apply similar strategies to spur industry growth at home.”
Joining the tour are representatives from the Kenyan and Rwandan national space agencies; academics from the universities of Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Witwatersrand; and directors of African space startups such as Astrofica, AgriBORA Labs, Locus Dynamics, Sayari Labs, and Wanscan Consulting. They are accompanied by a team of sectoral experts from Innovate UK and RIIS.
Starting at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London on 4 December, the delegation will meet with the Earth Space Sustainability Initiative and Lloyd’s of London to unpack space policy and regulations in Britain. This is followed by a visit to Seraphim Space, where local start-ups and investors will discuss the role of venture capital in funding the ideation, development and scaling of space technologies.
On the morning of 5 December, the group will travel to Leicester Space Park. Here, they will learn about how the community acts as a catalyst for collaboration between the University of Leicester and the private sector. The afternoon will be spent at the nearby National Space Centre, where curators will walk attendees through the various exhibitions and discuss the role of museums in generating public interest in space technology.
The tour then travels to Harwell on 6 December for an introduction to the Satellite Applications Catapult based there. Topics of discussion include ‘cluster building’ in innovation, as well as approaches to skills development and training. After lunch, participants will have the opportunity to meet with local start-ups during the monthly ‘Satuccino’ meet up.
Delegates have been invited to attend the Scottish Parliament on 7 December, where they will meet with representatives from local government and Space Scotland. This is followed by a networking dinner hosted by the Africa-Scotland Business Association and Scottish Development International.
The tour concludes on 8 December in Glasgow with a visit to Skyrora – a leading designer, manufacturer and deployer of rockets and satellites in Scotland – followed by a visit to the Technology and Innovation Centre at the University of Strathclyde.
Says tour delegate, Board Member of ZASPACE and Managing Director of Wanscan Consulting, Janusha Singh: “Joining this tour is an exciting opportunity to learn from the UK’s advanced space industry. There are many up- and downstream opportunities for collaboration between our two industries, especially now as space technology starts playing a more prominent role in areas like agriculture and disaster management. I am looking forward to applying the knowledge and relationships gained on this trip, to enhance our own capabilities and boost South Africa’s contribution to the global space community.”
About Innovate UK:
Innovate UK is the UK’s national innovation agency. The ‘UK-Africa Space-Technology Knowledge Exchange Tour’ forms part of the organisation’s six-year Global Alliance Africa project. Funded by UK International Development through Innovate UK (GCRF) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), it aims to forge stronger UK-African partnerships and enhance bilateral market access, funding, and investment opportunities through innovation and knowledge exchange between the UK, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa.
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