UK To Spend £60m More On European Space Agency A Year

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The Soyuz rocket lifts off for the third time from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana in October | Getty Images

The UK will spend £60m more per year on space technology.

Chancellor George Osborne said that the UK will increase its contribution to the European Space Agency, in an effort to attract more high-tech jobs to Britain.

Currently the UK contributes £170m a year to ESA. That will increase to £240m by 2018.

By increasing Britain's contribution to ESA when other nations are cutting theirs, the UK will attract more research contracts and the opportunity to improve the efficiency of our space tech factories, Osborne hopes.

ESA awards billions of pounds in contracts around Europe every year. The UK's previous investment in the Advanced Research In Telecommunications System, via ESA, has seen an overall return on investment of about six to one.

But overall spending in civil research has actually declined since 2010, government figures show. The area has seen a reduction of 5% in real terms spending. In two years' the overall science budget will have seen a cut of 10% in real terms.

According to the BBC, the UK Space Industry grew by 7.5% on average each year since 2008.

Overall the space industry turns over £9.1bn a year, according to 2010/11 figures.

Osborne will tell the Royal Society that there are still areas in which the UK can lead the world in scientific research.

He will say he wants the UK to focus on specific areas of tech - robotics, energy storage, nanotechnology, regenerative medicine, computing, synthetic biology and agricultural tech.