More government funding for space projects, this time on high risk/high reward ideas

Space photo

21 UK organisations have been awarded a share of more than £7 million funding as the government pushes on with its support to put the UK at the forefront of the latest advances in space innovation.

The cash injection is going to high-risk, high-reward projects that support companies and universities with radical ideas for how we tackle climate change through Earth Observation or address satellite communications challenges, from providing greater connectivity to remote places to increasing the efficiency of our homes.

The funding comes from the UK Space Agency’s National Space Innovation Programme (NSIP), which is the first UK fund dedicated to supporting the space sector’s development of innovations, allowing the country to compete internationally on the world stage with other countries, like France and Germany, which have dedicated national funding for space.

Projects set for the cash boost include The STORICLI project at HR Wallingford, at Howbery Park Wallingford which has been awarded more than £200,000. It will look into the opportunities for using earth observation techniques to better understand how the supply and demand for water might change in the future due to climate change. HR Wallingford will develop a prototype web-based tool to help water companies and regulators consider the robustness of water resources plans, using a set of plausible future storylines.

Another project, which has secured more than £500,000, is being led by the Harwell Campus-based Satellite Applications Catapult.

In this project the team is developing a pioneering solution for delivering connectivity to poorly served areas, leveraging the performance and ubiquitous coverage of satellite mega-constellations with the innovation of terrestrial networks. This project is the first of its kind and will use OneWeb’s satellites to demonstrate high speed data transfer through space to the Catapult’s 5G network at its connectivity research and innovation centre in Westcott, Buckinghamshire.

Other projects supported by Oxford University InnovationThales Alenia Space in Reading and RAL Space are among projects from across the UK also receiving funding.

Businesses, universities and research organisations were awarded co-funding for projects that will help the space sector create new high-skilled jobs, while developing new skills and technologies on UK soil. Grants from the £15 million funding pot range from between £170,000 and £1.4 million per project.

Dr Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “Space technologies have become deeply embedded in, and critical to, almost every aspect of our daily lives. With rapid technological innovation, space offers a broad and growing range of opportunities to support economic activity and protect the environment.

“From the satellites connecting our calls to the ones that tell us when to expect rain when we step outside, space technologies are fundamental to our day-to-day lives.

“Our space sector is constantly advancing and welcoming new ideas, and through this funding we are championing the best of this British innovation.”