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Qi3 Ventures Insight

Golden Opportunities in Space Supply Chain

Space is a great business, as well as fun for the kids.  Last week, I was invited to Astrium in Portsmouth to give a talk about the opportunities for non-space companies to sell into the space sector. Readers of Qi3 Accelerator Insight will know that I’m passionate about promoting the space sector to wider communities. Of course, I like to think that I’m a reasonably interesting person, but it was clear that on that day my talk wasn’t the most interesting as far as useful facts were concerned.

Chris Ward, Head of UK R&D at Astrium, provided a noteworthy presentation with insightful statistics. I’ll focus here on some key figures:

  • Astrium has €1B sales annually of which 53% accounted for manufacturing and 47% accounted for services (an increase from almost nothing over the past decade).
  • In manufacturing, 70% (approx. €385m) of business was subcontracted of which €100m was spent with 400 UK companies.
  • In services, 35% (approx. €176m) of business was subcontracted of which €100m was spent with other UK companies.

In such a gloomy business environment, this undoubtedly represents €200m of golden opportunities for companies who wish to sell into the space supply chain.

My talk emphasised what’s available for companies in this sector, with specific focus on technological and service opportunities for suppliers.  Mail me to request a copy.

Let’s start manufacturing – new TSB strategy announced

At last the Technology Strategy Board has published its new strategy for High Value Manufacturing.

Their definition of HVM is very much allied with ours:

High value manufacturing is the application of leading edge technical knowledge and expertise to the creation of products, production processes, and associated services which have strong potential to bring sustainable growth and high economic value to the UK. Activities may stretch from R&D at one end to recycling at the other. Such potential is characterised by a combination of high R&D intensity and high growth.

And they focus on 22 competences, grouped into 5 strategic themes:

  • resource efficiency
  • manufacturing processes
  • materials integration
  • manufacturing systems
  • business models

Reading through this document and the accompanying Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing study, there is a lot of sense here, but I’d argue also a number of important omissions and (dare I say it) fashionable hobbyhorses.  For example, I feel that the UK has world class competences in metrology, measurement systems and analytical instrumentation.  These competences can enable leaner, more resource efficient and less costly manufacture.  This doesn’t undermine the overall thrust of the IfM’s argument, but I hope that the TSB will be open to a healthy debate and ongoing refresh of these 22 competences.

At Qi3 Accelerator, we use the phrase High Value Manufacturing to encompass the ‘real world’ of engineered products and associated services, including those destined for sectors such as aerospace, security, defence, space, medical and environmental.

Let’s see how this new strategy for HVM is backed up by actions that will make a material difference to the rebalancing of the UK economy towards making things.

 

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