THE head of the UK’s space agency has said the industry could be “really big” for Glasgow.

Speaking to The Herald at the Data Space 2018 conference yesterday, Graham Turnock said Scottish companies that collate and analyse data gathered from Earth observation (EO) satellites, could help the UK reach its target of being 10 per cent of the total global space industry.

Observing the earth through satellite images and extracting value from the data captured is growing into an enormous global industry worth tens of billions of pounds, as mass data storage and complex algorithms become more economically accessible.

“The UK is a leader in the space market already, looking to grow to ten per cent so if we were taking a chunk of that multiple ten billion market with Scotland having a big role in that I think it could be really big for Glasgow,” said Mr Turnock.

“There seems to have been some very exciting upstream space companies like Clyde Space and wherever there is upstream, there’s a natural attraction to downstream companies, and it attracts attention in terms of business incubators. Clearly there is a great skills base here and there is relevant support from local authorities. I think all of that adds up to an important package.”

The Data Space conference and exhibition brought together an audience of data providers, analysts, government agencies and academics – among them Scottish businesses such as Birdii and Ecometrica.

Richard Tipper, executive chairman of Ecometrica, said there had been a huge amount of investment in the upstream space industry, and there was a pinch-point in turning the information gathered from the upstream sector into useable data.

He said: “Scotland has the potential to be a world leader in this area. To some extent we’re already leading in certain aspects of the upstream space. What’s unique about Scotland at the moment is that we have a great mixture of expertise and insight, from universities to small and large businesses.”

Jean-Marie Spaus, from Luxembourg’s Ministry of the Economy told delegates that space industry is changing, moving away from its original model of being owned by government to being a private sector industry with many players.