Not only is Scotland leading the way in the space race but there are opportunities for more businesses to become involved. This is according to the founder of AstroAgency, the Edinburgh-based strategic marketing firm dedicated to the commercial space sector. 

Daniel Smith, who is also co-founder of Fire Arrow and a founding director and former Chair of not-for-profit Space Scotland, which supports the country’s space sector development, said: “Today we have more than 170 space companies and a majority of those are members of Space Scotland. However, space is not really a sector that exists on its own. It underpins every sector imaginable. 

“All the companies you can think of are using space in some way.” 

Speaking on the Go Radio Business Show with Hunter & Haughey, he pointed out: “There are great examples of how space is supporting industry, the economy, the environment and society. There’s a lot going on in Scotland. It’s a real hub of activity. 

“For instance, we build more small satellites in Glasgow than anywhere in the world outside of the US, which is an incredible statistic. We also have launch vehicle companies here.”

With more launch companies now moving to Scotland, launch sites are increasingly regarded as the next key link in the value chain.

“Why are we launching these satellites in the first place and why are we developing these spaceports? It’s all about the information we can get from satellites.

“In Scotland there are around 33 earth observation companies. A a lot of them have been spun out of universities. They’re taking invaluable information then finding ways to apply it to our everyday lives and the environment and other ways. 

“We’ve achieved this full value chain in the past 20 years. We’re not quite sure how we got there, but it’s a great thing to have done so and it’s quite unique throughout Europe.”

The Go Radio show’s co-host Sir Tom Hunter asked: “What can we learn from the space sector? For example, how can we in Scotland be better at making small satellites than China?”

Smith noted a lot of what has already been accomplished and will be achieved in the future comes down to the real sense of community in the sector.

“The fact we’re a small country definitely helps. A lot of what I’m doing at the moment is speaking to other countries and sharing our experience – not just the capabilities we’ve built in the value chain. It’s also the way we’re approaching space; our thought leadership and our strategic angle. 

“We’re starting to look at how we can be the greenest space sector in the world because we’re developing the launch side in particular from the ground up. 

“Countries around the world are looking at us. And because we’re a small country, we can all get together. It’s quite a small industry, fast growing, but people across the sector can phone each other or meet in person. I think that helps us deal with opportunities and challenges. That’s the key: it helps that we’re small.”

Smith’s message to businesses across Scotland is that, when it comes to space, they should consider the benefits here on Earth. 

“If you have a business, how could you be using space data right now to add to that? 

“With all of the downstream benefits, if you’ve a business that manufactures or an engineering company, this is a new revenue stream for you. You could be helping to build space bridges, helping to build components for the launch vehicles of satellites . . .

“For the Scottish proposition, and a wider proposition, it’s important to help people realise there’s a place for you in the space sector. 

“Ours is a collaborative and friendly ecosystem. Scotland has a history of innovation. We've entrepreneurs like yourselves, Sir Tom and Lord Willie, who have done incredible things. 

“We can show that. If people have an interest in space, it’s very possible to be successful here.”