National Physical Laboratory

Connecting space

NPL's Knowledge Services use network management techniques to support the UK space industry's continued growth.



The space industry is a UK success story worth £7.5 billion per year, with the potential to create 100,000 new jobs by 2030.

There are over 260 companies involved in the UK space industry which grew by an average of ~10% each year between 2006 and 2010.

The industry is divided into upstream companies, who provide space technology (e.g. satellite manufacturers) and downstream companies who exploit space-based technologies (e.g. telecommunications providers).

The Challenge

To sustain the industry's growth you need a strong value chain which connects all supply tiers.

NPL, as part of a contract with the Technology Strategy Board to host the Location and Timing Knowledge Transfer Network (L&T KTN), identified that a potential risk to the sector's growth was a lack of visibility across the supply network.

The Solution

NPL applied network management principles to create a community of practice of more than 1,100 members within downstream companies. We also deployed technology brokerage techniques to build a user content generated on-line directory. The NPL-run KTN is one of the few bodies that bridges the gap between upstream and downstream space activities in the UK.

The Impact

As a result NPL was instrumental in brokering over £50 million of funding for downstream space research projects. For example, SISTER (Satcomms in Support of Transport on European Roads), €10.5 million, CVIS (Cooperative Vehicle Infrastructure Systems), €48 million, MESSAGE (location based pollution monitoring), £4 million, and GAARDIAN (Integrity monitoring of GPS at point of use) £3 million.

We also hosted the first information days in Europe for the three dedicated calls on Framework 7 satellite navigation and applications projects. These helped companies and research organisations learn about the process, and develop partnerships in preparation for the funding call.

Contact: Gareth Edwards

Find out more about NPL's Knowledge Services

Last Updated: 24 Jun 2014
Created: 23 Dec 2010


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