Science Minister Chris Skidmore MP was in the Duchy on Friday to see for himself how Cornwall is pushing back the boundaries of innovation.
During a tour of Cornwall Airport Newquay, he saw first-hand how Cornwall can play a major role in the UK’s ambition to capture 10% of the global space market by 2030.
He also dropped by the Launchpad Programme at Falmouth University, to see how it is supporting the next generation of tech innovators and entrepreneurs and driving the digital economy in Cornwall.
Skidmore learned more about Virgin Orbit’s horizontal satellite launch proposals from Spaceport Cornwall, and plans by Goonhilly Earth Station to track future deep space missions to the Moon and Mars. He was also briefed on launch company Skyrora’s decision to base its rocket testing programme at Spaceport Cornwall.
The minister then took part in a roundtable discussion chaired by Cornwall Council deputy leader Adam Paynter with space industry leaders, which looked at the wider economic opportunities of the space sector in the south west.
“There has never been a better time to start and grow a space business in the UK,” he said, “and I believe Cornwall and the south west can play a big part in the new commercial space age.”
Glenn Caplin, chief executive of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, which is investing £8.4 million in Goonhilly and funding the work to establish Spaceport Cornwall, said: “Developing the space economy in Cornwall is a cornerstone of the LEP’s emerging Local Industrial Strategy. We welcomed the opportunity to brief the minister on the contribution our area can make to the UK’s space ambitions and economic growth, locally and nationally.”
At Falmouth University, after a briefing from the vice-chancellor, professor Anne Carlisle OBE, the minister toured Launchpad and spoke to some of the businesses currently incubating before receiving presentations from two companies that incorporated last year.
Professor Carlisle said: “We were delighted to have the opportunity to tell the minister about what we’re doing at Falmouth University to help transform the economy in Cornwall by fostering high-value, high-growth businesses and jobs in the tech sector.
“It was great to hear his thoughts on the future of Higher Education and to discuss the importance of creative and digital skills, both now and in the future economy.”
Nick Dixon, head of the Launchpad Programme, added: “The minister was really interested in the diversity of the businesses that are being founded at Launchpad. From Codices, which is working with Amazon Web Services and Twitch to develop the next generation of live interactive gameshows, to Glas Data, an agricultural technology company that has developed an ecosystem which aggregates, compares and analyses data sources, Launchpad is about hothousing talent from across all sectors and retaining it in Cornwall.”