City, University of London Launches into Space

The sun rising over the edge of Earth from the perspective of space.

Space might seem far away, but we all use space technology every day. Ehsan Razavizadeh, Managing Director of the University’s new London Space Innovation Centre, explains why it’s time to focus on this exciting new frontier.

London Space Innovation Centre at City, University of London had its official launch event on 3rd March 2021. It is a new venture that has already received excited responses from students, alumni, academic staff, and external stakeholders alike.

“The alumni community is really happy that we took this step,” says Ehsan Razavizadeh, Managing Director of London Space Innovation Centre. “We are in the new market. We want to be participating in new frontiers and new ideas.”

According to Razavizadeh, we use, on average, space technology 20 to 30 times a day without even thinking about it. Space technology has become fundamental to all aspects of life, including climate observation, land management, transportation, and logistics.

“The global space sector is expected to continue growing strongly with estimates forecasting $1 trillion in annual revenue by 2040. And in the context of the UK, it has always been a great success story. For example, the UK has 6.5 per cent of the global space market, and we have the target to reach 10 per cent of the total global space market by 2030, which is a very ambitious target, but I think we will be able to reach it,” says Razavizadeh.

Unlike other universities in the UK that already have space related institutes, the Centre at City, University of London wants to take a more interdisciplinary approach to its activities.

“At City University we felt that we have an amazing opportunity to connect our expertise across the University, in the Law School, in the School of Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Sciences, the Business School, Social Sciences, and in the rest of the University, to the space sector.”

The University’s connections to the City of London, and its close proximity to technology hubs, are also a positive aspect that can create opportunities.

So, what will the Centre do? According to Razavizadeh there are 3 areas of focus: Research, education, and enterprise. In terms of research there is already established space related expertise in the School of Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering, but there are opportunities to expand.

“We would also like to invest in the areas that support the space sector but are not into space yet, such as finance, data science, insurance, policy and health.”

The main educational goal is to set up an MSc programme, however this is an extensive process and may take a couple of years. In the meantime, there will be short courses available to those who are interested in the space sector.

Finally, Razavizadeh is predicting that the enterprise opportunities will grow as the Centre establishes itself in the sector. Consulting will play an important part, but Razavizadeh is also looking at the possibility of setting up a space cluster in London.

“I know that is an ambitious project and that it could be long term, but I see a great potential there,” he says. “I see a cluster supported by the City of London, techUK, and bigger companies, where we can create a platform whereby bigger companies can support smaller companies, but also smaller companies can find clients through the larger organisations, and we can play a role. We are facilitating this cluster and contributing to the space sector.”

Ehsan Razavizadeh has been fascinated by space since he was a child so when the opportunity to develop a space centre presented itself in 2018, he was excited to become professionally involved in the space sector.

“I passionately believe this is the future and it is very exciting indeed. It’s something we all need to work on, on all aspects including upstream and downstream projects, from analysing data to manufacturing spaceship and CubeSat technologies. We can create new jobs and opportunities for our future generations.”

For more information about London Space Innovation Centre, please visit their webpages.