Smiths Interconnect awarded £2m in funding from the UK Space Agency

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Smiths Interconnect, a provider of high-reliability connectivity products and solutions, has received almost £2m in funding from the UK Space Agency through its ‘Space Clusters Infrastructure Fund’ (SCIF).

The funding will be used to enhance Smith’s Space Qualification Laboratory, a cutting-edge facility in Dundee that simulates the extreme conditions of space to assure the quality and durability of space components. From simulating the extreme vibration and shock environment of launch to surviving the extreme temperature swings experienced during space flight, the lab has a range of capabilities in which it will be investing substantially.

A key goal for Smiths Interconnect is to reduce both the time-to-market and cost of manufacturing of its radio frequency (RF) and optical components. This will be helped by developing new, in-house digital manufacturing capabilities and scaling up production through the automation of manufacturing processes, assembly and testing of products. RF and optical components provide critical communication and data transfer capabilities in deep space.

Commenting Julian Fagge, President of Smiths Interconnect, said, “Ongoing investment in the UK space sector in recent years is helping the country to become a global leader in space. Our work in Dundee aims to create unrivalled design, prototyping and manufacturing capacity coupled with an open-innovation space qualification testing lab, serving a key market need and strengthening our national space capabilities further.”

“It’s exciting to see the emergence and growth of vibrant space clusters across Scotland and the whole of the UK,” said Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency. “Smiths Interconnect’s Space Qualification Laboratory in Dundee is a significant facility and a brilliant demonstration of the potential of our thriving space sector to develop innovative infrastructure that helps us to deliver increasingly ambitious missions and capabilities.

“The Space Clusters Infrastructure Fund highlights the government’s commitment to space and will help deliver the goal set out in the National Space Strategy to build one of the most innovative and attractive space economies in the world, developing new skills and creating jobs.”

UK Government minister for Scotland, John Lamont, said: “The Scottish space sector continues to go from strength to strength with the latest figures showing an almost £40 million increase in income and more than 100 new, highly-skilled jobs with support from the UK Government. This new funding from the UK Space Agency will boost Scottish expertise based in Dundee working on infrastructure and digital fabrication, helping to maintain UK leadership in this sector.”

Through the UKSA SCIF funding, Smiths Interconnect plans to make its lab available to other UK space companies, particularly within the UK’s space clusters, enabling them to utilise these high-quality space testing and qualification capabilities.

To date, the Space Qualification Laboratory has completed more than 50 space component test and qualification campaigns.