You could not miss it, not with the wide length of road, flying flags of ESA and certainly a box building like box of Chocolates, ‘RAL’……
It was an unusual day, in that Harwell was sunny, so sunny you could see the ground shimmer and as I waved good bye, I entered the doors and greeted by Dr. Hart of Harwell Space Cluster.
My immediate impressions? Professional, efficient, strong, well-connected. They beat at the heart of aerospace in the UK and has a long arm reach to many international startups – across Europe and the world.
I liked the presentation on Harwell Space Cluster because I see how larger and smaller players interact and engage; I like that they are busy with regular visitors; it can only be a healthy sign of any institution. The question is how about continuity and how about further follow ups.
Which reminds me, it’s not about meeting lots of people at such events or conferences. It’s about meeting people and following up. Let me go one step further, it’s meeting the people and follow up and make that proper connection to then go about discussing collaboration.
Collaboration could range from writing an article together, to making a project proposal to flying something together- whatever shape or form, ideally all the cards land in the right place. This morning, I am reminded of a thought that a good friend gave me. We are Buddhists and we talk of karma. We plant and sow what we reap. The lotus flower represents all that; that our results are what we plant; our results are already determined. Imagine that.
If we go in with the right mindset, we put our best foot forward and work towards that, then quite surely we reap the rewards of our desires? Correct? That could quite possibly be a good 50% true, with the other 50% dependent on other external factors, yet perhaps the real test is not on the other 50% but how we steer the ship to move in the right direction.
It reminds me of another conversation I had with an entrepreneurial lawyer in Korea, he mentioned something like his most successful clients are usually the ones that shoot for the stars, because even if they miss, they are already there.
Impressed by the tour, the visit to then Satellite Catapult I realised that we are at the beginning of an exciting page of change. Change in many respects, for space in the UK, for space in Europe and of course NewSpace.
How will NewSpace players leverage the connections that they have within the sectors. Are they talking to each other? Are they building bridges? How long will it takes? What would inspire more startups to connect amongst others and particularly cross borders?
The second day of the tour took us to Chelmsford. A surprising general survey gave me the impression that like 80% have never been there before. We quite literally boosted the Chelmsford economy overnight by a delegation of about 60 or so space businesses.
Hosted by Teledyne, the Small Medium sized Business (SME) forum was well attended, oversubscribed and one of its’ kind. We were offered a tour of the mechanics, from the laboratories to viewing the clean rooms to manufacturing sites. The tour gave us an overall picture of how things came together, and more than that, how much know-how there is within one organisation
Business- match making followed and 5 mins is an impossible task- really. 45 mins is idea for a decent conversation, 30 mins for a rushed one, though 15 mins was a good paced introduction with follow up to come.
What hangs above all the discussion is Brexit and there is no denial of the potential impact on the space sector in the UK. We are told there would be little impact, though as any business, we cannot ignore the uncertainties. As an optimist, challenges are always opportunities. Perhaps this could be a booster for the space sector in the UK. It may mean many things, though as far as I could see the activities are only going to increase and the significance not diminished.
On the third day we were invited to attend the UCL Space policy forum held as part of a series of 2nd UCL Space week over 13-17 May 2019. It was wonderful to see the interest, yet perhaps there could have been event more. ‘Space the enabler’ was the theme and the idea was to explore how space enables human activities and how through our reliance on increasingly range of space assets dedicated to Earth, ocean, atmosphere observation,telecomes, navigation, surveillance, science and exploration we could develop better policies and understanding on how all this comes together.
One could sense the increasing realisation that academia and industry need to talk. We are talking, but perhaps more is needed and we are heading in the right direction. Currently, many countries, not just the UK, but also say Germany are grappling with the idea of what and how policies need to be amended to enable space to happen. Luxembourg in many ways has been the trail blazer in that regard in Europe. It is reaping the rewards of engaging many new space startups particularly with interests in Asteroid Mining and we can see the shift and movements there. I am heading there in a few hours and look forward to seeing entrepreneurs at the Space Forum.
Do you have ideas as to how better to engage and grow the NewSpace ecosystem?
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Helen will be speaking at DES2019 on ‘Living on the Moon’ on 22 May 2019 and at the 5th International Youth to Youth Summit 28 May to 1 June 2019 on the theme ‘Shaping the Future: Space, Economy, Society & Culture’ where she will be speaking and running a workshop on space futures.
Interested in contributed in the workshop? Get in touch
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