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Space and Security

Newcastle is a national hub for digital defence technology, owing to the presence of global defence primes such as Leonardo and Lockheed Martin and the Defence Sciences and Technology Laboratory.

Newcastle is at the heart of a new wave of innovation in UK defence and aerospace, working with industry leaders and researchers to find new applications for emerging digital technologies and stimulate economic growth.

Newcastle is developing a significant cluster around space and security, following major investments by a number of international defence companies and the establishment of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) in the city. 

Dstl is one of the principal government organisations dedicated to science and technology in the defence and security field and the Newcastle site focuses on AI and data science related research. 

Newcastle is also home to the National Innovation Centre for Data (NICD), which links industry and academia to explore opportunities related to data-driven technologies. 

In 2023, global defence prime Leonardo invested in a major research site in Newcastle and the company has since signed a partnership with NICD on two data analytics projects, one focused on federated machine learning and another advancing technologies for smart data streaming. Leonardo will create at least 200 jobs and is committed to investing in the city for the long-term. 

The world’s largest defence company, Lockheed Martin, has also formed a partnership with Northumbria University to create the North East Space Skills and Technology Centre – a £50m facility that will drive research and innovation in areas including optical satellite communications, space weather and space-based energy, as well as providing specialist education and training to ensure the UK space sector has the highly skilled workers it needs in the future.

Newcastle is home to local companies such as Pearson Engineering, which is located on the historic Armstrong Works site and a key supplier of armoured vehicles to the British Armed Forces. Irish virtual training simulation company VRAI also operates out of the city, working with OEMs and front line commands to prepare troops for active operational environments.

The growth of space and security across North East England has led to the formation of the North East Regional Defence and Security Cluster (NERDSC). The cluster is backed by Space North East England, which is building unique capabilities in satellite applications and communications, earth observation and orbital analysis.

The North East Space Skills and Technology Centre (NESST) is a £50m facility to develop future skills for the UK space sector.

Dstl’s Newcastle research site is at the forefront of AI research.

North East defence and security companies have received £500m in Innovate UK grant funding since 2002.

Almost 16,000 people are employed in the defence and security sector across North East England.


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