in Space

SPRINT recruits Rain Irshad and Ann Swift

Posted 25 August 2021

The national SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) business support programme has made two new appointments in senior roles, with Rain Irshad joining as the new Head of Programme and Ann Swift as the new National Innovation Manager.

Above: (left to right) Rain Irshad and Ann Swift.
Image courtesy SPRINT

SPRINT provides unprecedented access to university space expertise and facilities, helping businesses through the commercial exploitation of space data and technologies.

In her new role as the Head of SPRINT, Rain Irshad will be responsible for delivering the SPRINT programme successfully to target, on time and on budget, as well as looking at ways of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the programme by developing high value research and innovation partnerships.

Rain joins SPRINT from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) where, as the Joint Head of the Space Engineering and Technology Division, she provided strategic direction for the development of novel technology and instrumentation for space science, exploration and terrestrial applications. Rain also contributed to the definition of a programme to support strategically important large-scale projects in search of funding as part of the STFC Strategy, Planning and Communications Directorate. Before that, she worked for STFC’s Business and Innovations Directorate, focusing on bringing large research facilities to the UK and supporting major stakeholders.

Ann Swift brings considerable industry experience to her new role as SPRINT National Innovation Manager, having formerly supported advancements in the space sector, first through the South Coast Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications at the University of Portsmouth and then at the University of Surrey in the Surrey Space Centre.

Ann will be working across the UK with the Associate Member universities to oversee collaborative opportunities and support the broadening of the research and innovation that SPRINT delivers, both thematically and geographically.

Martin Barstow, Principal Investigator for the SPRINT programme and Professor of Astrophysics and Space Science at delivery partner the University of Leicester, said: “We’re delighted to have Rain and Ann join the SPRINT team, with both bringing significant sector expertise to their respective roles.

“Rain has a long history of business development within the areas of science, engineering and space exploration, and her appointment will be essential in delivering the key objectives of the programme as we continue to support the growth of the UK space sector.

“Ann has a proven track record of securing external R&I funding for both universities and industry, and brings a wealth of experience to the SPRINT team having worked in the UK space sector for several years.”


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