With job losses, recession and Covid-related gloom hogging the headlines, causes for optimism seem strictly limited. All the more reason, then, to take heart from the findings of a survey, unveiled at the end of July during a webinar co-chaired by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the UK Space Agency, which suggests the UK space sector is weathering the storm better than most.
Although the survey represents feedback from just 44 companies1, 80% of them expect to be up to pre-Covid capacity within six months. And with the right adaptation, 75% of them expect the sector to make a full recovery. Much of this will be contingent on government support and direction and, here, last year’s announcement of a National Space Council to join-up departmental activities and formulate a national strategy2, as well as the new National Space Innovation Programme3 are expected to help the sector grow out of the pandemic, said Neil Evans, Investment Manager for the Space Sector at the DIT.
Although Covid had impacted customer demand at home, he noted that demand from overseas had held up somewhat better. In summary, around 50% of respondents had experienced the same or increased demand over pre-pandemic levels. On the supply side, 50% of respondents again reported little or no change. Reason for optimism is also to be found in the survey’s finding that expansion plans remained intact for many respondents. The survey also gives a clear indication that while the remainder of this Financial Year will prove challenging for exporters, a recovery during the next FY is widely expected. A strengthened DIT presence in Indonesia and Australia, as well as an anticipated relaxation of Covid-related import controls elsewhere should all help boost confidence.
The survey finds that many companies are beginning to revisit previously-identified trade and investment opportunities. “Our teams are seeing this at first hand,” says Evans, who adds that while the small sample of companies represented may not represent the whole picture, it nevertheless gives reason for optimism.
1. Those wishing to participate in the monthly survey can make their views known by logging-on to https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk...