Western Australia teams up with UK’s Satellite Applications Catapult in the global space race

There is a renewed focus on astronomy and space science in the public consciousness and the global space industry is undergoing a rapid reinvention expected to reach US$1.1 trillion by 2040 according to Morgan Stanley.

Space-based data is revolutionising Western Australia’s key sectors mining, oil and gas, defence and agriculture with its many applications, including vegetation and remediation mapping, yield monitoring, autonomous vehicle and drone positioning, defence satellite communications, and satellite imagery and communications.

It is on space applications the WA Government (WAGO) recently teamed up with UK’s Satellite Applications Catapult (the Catapult) to enable more collaboration between Western Australia and UK space businesses.


The Satellite Applications Catapult

The Challenge

The challenge to enable more collaboration and create opportunities between Australian and UK businesses in the space industry, and create state based strategic partnerships to address priority sectors such as Robotics, Automation and Agriculture in Western Australia.

The Outcome

The WAGO office in London assisted the Catapult to set up a promising visit program to Perth in November 2019 including meeting the Chief Scientist of WA, the Minister for Science and global corporates Woodside and Rio Tinto.  WAGO also facilitated a Startup Roundtable which led to two successful virtual workshops for Australian and UK businesses being rolled out by the Catapult and WA partners.

The Satellite Applications Catapult is one of a network of UK technology and innovation companies which aim to drive economic growth through the commercialisation of research. Their aim is to support UK industry by accelerating the growth of satellite applications and to contribute to capturing a 10 per cent share of the global space market predicted by 2030. This is done by exploiting the innovation potential in industrial and academic communities, by being a focal point where SMEs, large industry and end users can work together with researchers to challenge barriers, explore and develop new ideas, and bring these to commercial reality.

“There are huge opportunities and challenges facing the earth from climate change and recovering from COVID to autonomy. Many of these are going to require strong international collaboration to achieve success,” said Catherine Hamelin, International Partnerships Manager, UK Satellite Applications Catapult

At the end of 2019 the Catapult visited Australia to gain a better understanding of the Australian space sector landscape and identify opportunities and partners for collaboration.

“In particular our trip to WA was enlightening and has already resulted in several follow up activities and discussions ahead of the Australian UK SpaceBridge being formalised at a government level through our respective Space Agencies,” said miss Hamelin.

Aside from the Catapult’s continued productive relationship with the WAGO office to open new channels to market and promote collaborative opportunities between the UK and WA industry, the Catapult has:

  • Been working with a WA prime to develop a possible joint Australia-UK collaborative R&D project for a commercial customer.
  • Hosted two virtual workshops in June 2020 in collaboration with WA stakeholders Atomic Sky and Agristart through the Quantum Technology Exchange on Space and Advanced Technology (Robotics, Automation, Manufacturing and AI), and AgriTech Space Applications. 
  • Continued engaging with WA Minister Kelly’s Office to provide updates and develop the UK-WA relationship and identify appropriate mechanisms to facilitate a UK-WA relationship.

“It was clear to us that Western Australia has some significant offerings to the Space sector the biggest of which includes the translation of the Robotics and AI capability developed for the mining sector, into Space based technologies, although there were  a number of other areas of significant interest too,” said miss Hamelin.

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