The UK is getting a new £40 million (US$60 million) International Space Innovation Center (ISIC) as part of the Government’s plans to support Britain’s growing space sector. The announcement came at the launch of the UK's new Space Agency.

Funded through public and industry investment, ISIC will provide a central hub for British space activity, focusing on exploiting data generated by Earth Observation satellites; using space data to better understand and counter climate change; and advise on the security and resilience of space systems and services.

A “sleeper” industry in the UK, the space and satellite industry supports 68,000 jobs and contributes £6 billion (US$9 billion) to the economy. The highly-skilled sector underpins high speed broadband, high definition television, GPS and weather forecasting that the modern world relies on.

UK’s Science and Innovation Minister, Lord Drayson, said: “The UK Space Agency will give the sector the muscle it needs to fulfill its ambition. Britain’s space industry has defied the recession. It can grow to £40 billion a year and create 100,000 jobs in 20 years.”

Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, said: "The £6 billion space industry is one of Britain’s real success stories. Year on year it provides more jobs both directly and indirectly to the UK workforce. This is exactly the kind of high value-added industry we need to support as we re-balance our economy, creating sustainable growth and the jobs of the future."

Science and Innovation Minister, Lord Drayson, said: "The action we’re taking today shows that we’re really serious about space. The UK Space Agency will give the sector the muscle it needs to fulfill its ambition. Britain’s space industry has defied the recession. It can grow to £40bn a year and create 100,000 jobs in 20 years. The Government’s commitments on space will help the sector go from strength to strength."

"The space industry is growing three times faster than the rest of the economy and will make a major contribution to the UK’s future economic success,” said Pam Alexander, Chief Executive at the South East England Development Agency, which leads on the space sector.

The British space industry also intends to develop a National Space Technology Strategy to make sure the space sector delivers its potential, overseen by an industry-led steering group.

A major focus of the center will be to maintain the UK’s leadership position in climate change policy and science. The ISIC also intends to establish a senior-level expert panel to watch emerging space capabilities and implement them in future national security and defense planning and work with industry to set out how space-enabled services can help deliver next generation broadband.

The UK Space Agency will take over responsibility for managing UK interests in EU projects including the space component of GMES, and Galileo. It has also been agreed in principle that the Agency will manage the UK’s financial interest in the EU Satellite Center. The Agency will also negotiate on the UK’s behalf on international bodies.

The new center will co-locate with the European Space Agency.