press release
Published: 16 April 2018

Surrey to further influence the UK's space industry, thanks to new funding

A consortium of UK universities and agencies has been awarded nearly £5M from the Research England in order to fund major national initiatives to enhance research and innovation in the UK space industry. 

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Government ambitions for the UK space sector target 10% of a global space market of £400 billion by 2030 – a challenging goal requiring a coordinated approach from industry and academia. 

The Universities of Surrey, Leicester, Southampton, Edinburgh and the Open University, which together form part of the Space Research and Innovation Network for Technology (SPRINT), have received the £4.8M Connecting Capability Fund (CCF) grant in order to support small and medium-sized businesses engaging with Higher Education institutions, providing them with unprecedented access to university expertise and facilities.

Professor Guglielmo Aglietti, Director of the Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey, said: “We are delighted with this award and we look forward to working with our partners to further grow the UK space sector, in line with government strategy. As a world leading centre of excellence for space innovation, Surrey has almost 40 years of experience of close cooperation between academia and industry. The success of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, which was born within an academic department at our University and went on to become a leader in microsatellite technologies, is one of the highest profile success stories of the UK space sector.

“Under the term ‘new space’ there is an ongoing revolution in the space sector, with new entrepreneurs and businesses entering a “market” traditionally occupied by institutional players, to exploit countless new opportunities.”

Dr Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency said: “Our growing space sector depends on the success of technology and expertise that comes from the world-class research carried out in the UK. 

“The UK Space Agency is working hard to ensure the benefits of space are felt across the whole of the country, as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy. The SPRINT programme has our full support – it will help smaller businesses tap into the world-class knowledge of some of the UK’s leading universities, giving them a real boost and creating new jobs.”

David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England, said: “These projects demonstrate the commitment of universities to work together to strengthen the R&D and technological capabilities of the UK, building upon our successful Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF). In the Industrial Strategy, the Government asked us to improve our ability to turn exciting ideas into commercial products and services. Universities have stepped forward in these projects to show that they can do world class commercialisation, alongside world class science.

“I believe these projects present important innovations that should inform our strategic approach to commercialisation in UK Research and Innovation for the future.”

Research England’s funding of SPRINT will act as a catalyst to transform the ways that universities and broader partners collaborate, working to boost economic growth, jobs and prosperity throughout the UK by delivering market-led solutions to the space and space enabled economy.

The university partners involved in SPRINT are individually engaged in active strategic approaches to knowledge exchange and commercialisation within the space and space enabled sectors, working with regional partners to develop investment in programmes, infrastructure and technology centres-of-excellence to secure facilities that support exploitation and growth. 

 The SPRINT funding is part of an investment of £67 million through Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund (CCF) in new collaborative projects, between universities and with other partners, to drive forward world-class university commercialisation across the country.


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