Scotland business

US satellite firm to create 50 jobs in Glasgow

Satellite technology Image copyright Spire
Image caption Spire aims to employ more than 50 people to work on satellites at its new Glasgow centre

A Californian satellite and data company is opening a centre in Glasgow to build the next generation of weather forecasting devices.

Spire chose the city because it already has expertise in space technology at its universities and small businesses.

The San Francisco-based firm has been attracted with a £1.5m Scottish government grant, through the agency Scottish Development International.

The company intends to employ 20 people initially, building up to more than 50.

It will work with Glasgow-based Clyde Space as a partner firm.

The new recruits will design and build small satellites, which will be able to collect five times as much data as weather forecasters have had before. By the end of 2017, that could rise to 100 times more data.

Part of the plan is to plug an imminent gap in weather forecasting identified by the US authorities.

Know-how

An ageing generation of 20 weather satellites is due to be retired or may stop working before others are in place, with the gap forecast at between one and five years from next year.

Spire's satellite and data handling know-how is designed to provide worldwide and round-the-clock information for its clients in global trade, shipping and air traffic control, as well as meteorology.

It uses technology known as GPS-Radio Occultation, which has been in development since the 1960s.

Its censors draw on the the geo-positioning satellite system already used for consumer electronics as a means of measuring atmospheric pressure, temperature and humidity.

'Strong investment'

The announcement of Spire's Glasgow office was made during First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's visit to the USA.

Ms Sturgeon said it confirmed the recent strong flow of investment from American companies.

Spire said it chose to locate in Scotland because it has a low cost base and an extensive range of universities, with talented engineers.

Strathclyde and Glasgow universities have been particularly active in space technology.

Peter Platzer, Spire's chief executive, said: "We are not only looking for the top 1% of the world's talent pool, but the 1% that demand constant challenge and improvement that has come to embody Spire's culture."

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