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SPRINT awards grants for new space research projects

Posted 6 July 2022

The national SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) business support programme has awarded new grants to three SMEs based in Wales and Scotland in its latest round of funding, after the UK Space Agency extended its support to SPRINT to enable HEIs in the devolved nations to actively engage with the programme and benefit from the funded collaborations with industry partners.

Above: Dr Rain Irshad, Head of the national SPRINT programme.
Courtesy SPRINT

The three new research projects involving Cardiff University, the University of Strathclyde and the University of Edinburgh, focus on using data gathered from space to assess buildings at scale for energy efficiency improvements, launching space-as-a-service or satellite-enabled services and utilising satellite imagery to survey floods and droughts.

Dr Rain Irshad, Head of the national SPRINT programme said: “We are delighted to broaden the collaborative opportunities for SMEs to work with academic experts from HEIs in Wales and Scotland. More importantly, we value the continued support of the UK Space Agency which has made this possible. The three new grants will ramp-up research into key areas such as sustainable cities, mitigating the impacts of climate change and drawing on the benefits of space data as a service.”

Jacob Nowak, Local Growth Manager at the UK Space Agency, said: “The National Space Strategy sets a clear ambition to unleash innovation and foster collaboration between space businesses and our world leading universities.
“We are working with partners across the UK to level up the space sector, and these exciting new partnerships in Scotland and Wales will catalyse investment and boost research into some of the biggest challenges we face today, including mitigating the impacts of climate change.”

The three new projects funded by SPRINT include:

Absolar Solutions with Cardiff University
Project: Net zero pathways for 28 million homes, instantly, accurately and independently
Absolar uses remotely gathered data, including LiDAR and photogrammetry images, amongst other datasets, to assess buildings at scale for energy efficiency improvements. These include insulation, air source heat pumps and Solar PV, developing full business cases including feasibility, installation costs and emissions / financial savings. Currently, Absolar supplies this intelligence to local authorities and portfolio operators to help them understand their present position and develop net zero plans. This project will open this unique building intelligence to the general public, at no cost, by creating a web-based platform for residential property owners and users that allows direct access to the information together with support and guidance for implementing actions.

Clyde Space with University of Strathclyde
Project: Boosting Strategic Capability: Process and Product Management in Small Satellite Innovation
Demand for high-quality, timely data from space has never been greater and the increasing commercial interest means businesses must adapt to respond to the global opportunity.
Following an active period of acquisition, integration and expansion Clyde Space is now planning the next phase of growth, with a focus on building and launching its own constellation of satellites to establish a leading position in the supply of Space-Data-as-a-Service.
Strathclyde University will support development of a scalable organisational operating model to facilitate efficient and effective revenue growth and capability development in the short-, medium- and long-term through the implementation of innovative solutions.

Stevenson Astrosat with University of Edinburgh
Project: Data platform for 4D soil moisture: enhancing resilience for flooding and droughts using satellite imagery and numerical modelling approaches
Astrostat, an Earth Observation company is proposing a method to quantify the soil moisture profile by combining satellite data with a physical model describing water infiltration. As a result, 2D images secured from satellite imagery will be converted into a 4D model of soil moisture variation with depth and time, which will provide fundamental information on how given terrain responds to a rain event.
Recently, climate change has increased both the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. The capability to predict the timescales of soil saturation has a relevant impact in several resilience activities, including flood risk modelling, landslide monitoring and agriculture.

SPRINT provides unprecedented access to university space expertise and facilities. SPRINT helps businesses through the commercial exploitation of space data and technologies. SPRINT is supported by Research England, the Scottish Funding Council and the UK Space Agency. It is delivered by a consortium including founder members - led by University of Leicester, University of Edinburgh, The Open University, University of Southampton and University of Surrey – and associate members including City, University of London, Durham University, Kingston University, University of Bristol, University of Exeter, University of Glasgow, University of Leeds and University of Strathclyde.

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