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Highland chamber of commerce joins forces with Space Hub Sutherland and HIE to host business breakfast with focus on opportunities in the space sector


By John Davidson

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A visualisation by NORR of satellites being launched into orbit from Space Hub Sutherland.
A visualisation by NORR of satellites being launched into orbit from Space Hub Sutherland.

Businesses in the north Highlands were given a chance to hear about upcoming opportunities in the space sector at a breakfast.

The Tuesday morning meeting, hosted by Caithness Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Space Hub Sutherland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, gave people information on how the supply chain could benefit from the burgeoning sector.

It comes as the vertical launch spaceport at A' Mhòine in Sutherland moves closer to lift off, with rocket firm Orbex expected to be the main user of the site.

Roy Kirk, project director at Space Hub Sutherland, and Mark Thornell, procurement manager at Orbex, spoke at the business breakfast in Thurso.

Attendees heard about the significant potential for growth in the sector, with hopes that it will be worth up to £4 billion to the Scottish economy by 2030, and the significant opportunities available in the north Highlands linked to the Sutherland development.

Roy Kirk gave an overview of the background to the Space Hub Sutherland project, noting the many benefits of the decision to site the spaceport in the region, from good access to orbits to a supportive local environment.

Mark Thornell gave attendees an overview of the types of supply chain opportunities that Orbex has already been able to offer to Scottish companies, as well as potential opportunities that may arise in the future.

Trudy Morris, chief executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is clear from last year’s report on the potential for a North Highland and Moray Space Cluster that the north Highlands has huge potential both to contribute to and to gain from developments in Scotland’s thriving space sector.

"We were very pleased to be able to give local businesses a greater insight into the economic opportunities that are upcoming in the area as a result of these developments.

“The north Highlands is home to a highly skilled local supply chain with expertise in a range of complex and highly regulated sectors and the chamber is in the final stages of producing a supply chain directory to showcase the skills available in the region. We look forward to continuing to work closely with local partners to promote and support the development of the space sector within the north Highlands”.

Roy Kirk, of Space Hub Sutherland, was one of the speakers at the business breakfast.
Roy Kirk, of Space Hub Sutherland, was one of the speakers at the business breakfast.

Mr Kirk said: “The development of Space Hub Sutherland has already benefited from community and business support. We have had several large aerospace companies and space companies who have visited the area and have positively remarked on the high standard of support that they have received here.”

An artist's impression of Space Hub Sutherland. Picture: Ramboll UK
An artist's impression of Space Hub Sutherland. Picture: Ramboll UK

Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex, said: “Orbex is at the forefront of the Scottish space industry and is focused on building the world’s most environmentally friendly space rocket to launch small satellites into low-earth Orbit from our home spaceport in Sutherland.

"These satellites will provide a range of new services – everything from providing rural connectivity to monitoring the impact of climate change. We have rapidly expanded our operations in the north of Scotland in recent years, putting local people from the area at the heart of this exciting new industry, and we are committed to engaging with local communities and businesses to keep them and informed about opportunities to work with Orbex, and help build a truly local supply chain wherever we can.”


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