NASA’s largest contractor has been commissioned to show how a North of Scotland “space cluster” can play a role in an industry expected to be worth £4billion in the UK by 2030.
Jacobs, a technical services giant based in Dallas in the US, has been commissioned by the Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership (CNSRP) to assess how skills and resources in local industries could be transferred into the burgeoning space industry, as well as identify where gaps exists that will need further investment in order to take off.
Jacobs said it will assess the local supply chain and produce a report on how available skills, such as advanced engineering, asset management and avionics could transfer to the space industry, including from the nuclear sector at nearby Dounreay and the defense sector in Moray.
Filling the gaps
The firm added it will also examine “potential socio-economic impacts in the region, conduct a gap analysis and identify further investment and actions required for a range of potential growth scenarios”.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is developing the Space Hub Sutherland project, which is the first vertical launch site to secure planning permission in the UK.
The Scottish-manufactured Orbex Prime low-carbon fuel rocket could begin launching low-earth orbit communication and observation satellites from a site on the A Mhòine Peninsula from as early as next year.
With estimates that the UK’s space industry will be worth £4 billion by 2030, this is a huge opportunity for the area.”
Clive White, Jacobs
Clive White, Jacobs critical mission solutions international senior vice president, said: “Our research, economic modeling and strategy planning will identify what needs to be done to create a space cluster of specialised industries in northern Scotland, supported by supply chain, local skills and talent, and infrastructure capable of sustaining its growth.
“With estimates that the UK’s space industry will be worth $5.6 billion (£4 billion) by 2030, this is a huge opportunity for the area with potential to create many high-value jobs. During this project, we will leverage our teams supporting NASA, where Jacobs is the largest services provider.”
Roy Kirk, Space Hub Sutherland project director, said: “This project is important for the prosperity of the Highlands and the opportunity to reach back into Jacobs’ deep experience and capability in the space sector, plus their decades of local experience at Dounreay, is a critical competitive advantage for us.”
The research project is expected to cost £57,000 and was procured by Caithness Chamber of Commerce (CoC), with funding provided jointly by Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (£34,000) and HIE (£23,000). A report is expected by the end of this year.
Jacobs, which brings in around $14bn (£10bn) in annual revenues and employs a global work force of approximately 55,000, recently won an £8m contract from DSRL to coordinate the programme to clear and treat radioactive waste in the shaft and silo at the nuclear site.
The CNSRP is an informal partnership of the main public sector bodies and key private sector organisations established to combat job losses that will result from the decommissioning of Dounreay.
The partners include Caithness Chamber of Commerce (CCoC), DSRL, HIE, the Highland Council, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland (SDS).