Improved disaster response in Commonwealth states and tropical disease control are among the goals of 10 new projects involving British space organizations, Science Minister Sam Gyimah announced.
The Industrial Strategy highlights the importance of bringing together the United Kingdom’s (UK) world-class research with business investment to develop technologies and industries of the future that benefit society, as well as economy.
The UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme uses UK space expertise to deliver innovative solutions to real world problems across the globe. This helps some of the world’s poorest countries, while building effective partnerships that can lead to growth opportunities for British companies.
The successful projects, worth £38 million in total, are led by a diverse range or organisations from the UK’s growing space sector, from large companies such as Inmarsat and CGI, to start-ups such as Guildford-based Earth-i. The UK Space Agency and industry are working together to grow the UK’s share of the global space market to 10 percent by 2030.
“The UK’s space sector is going from strength to strength. It pioneers new technology and provides jobs for 40,000. Today I can announce that the space sector’s capabilities are being put to use to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges,” Science Minister Sam Gyimah said.
“The UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme will help developing countries tackle big issues like disaster relief and disease control, while showcasing the services and technology on offer from our leading space businesses,” he continued.
The International Partnership Programme is part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF): a £1.5 billion fund from the UK Government, which supports cutting-edge research and innovation on global issues affecting developing countries.
There are 22 existing projects already delivering benefits, including a partnership between Inmarsat and the Philippine government to reduce the impact of natural disasters using satellite communications, which was called into action in December and January when tropical storms killed hundreds of people and displaced tens of thousands more to evacuation centres. The project used British technology and expertise to help relief workers get information in and out of the disaster zones which greatly increase the effectiveness of the response effort, helping them save lives and restore critical infrastructure.
Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat explained, “Inmarsat was originally founded to save lives at sea and we are proud that, almost 40 years later, our robust, reliable satellite communication services are deployed throughout the world to assist following natural disasters and humanitarian crises, wherever they occur.
“With the invaluable support of the UK Space Agency, we have been able to pre-equip disaster response teams in the Philippines with vital satellite communications solutions. This meant that when two deadly cyclones hit the country over a two week period, resulting in loss of life and serious damage to terrestrial communications infrastructure, Philippine authorities were able to utilize Inmarsat’s mobile connectivity services to assess the damage and identify the needs of those regions most affected.”
Meanwhile, British Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce noted that UK is proud to work with the Philippine government to find solutions to a number of pressing development issues in food security, environmental resilience and public health, among many others.
“With combined strengths, we are geared to combat shared challenges, with the promise of helping the most vulnerable communities.I am pleased to see this ISAIF project being implemented in the Philippines where innovative technology can advance efforts in protecting the country’s fisheries sector against destructive practices, preserving the livelihood and welfare of Filipino fisher folks,” Pruce said.
All IPP projects are match-funded by consortium members and international partners to ensure maximum value for money. The program is fully compliant with Official Development Assistance (ODA) with the Independent Commission for Aid Impact recently reporting that the UK Space Agency had developed robust procedures for ensuring ODA eligibility and was thorough in its ODA compliance screening.
The UK Space Agency is also funding five Business Applications Ambassadors to work with industry across the UK. The Agency already supports a network of business incubators and the new ambassadors will advise on business applications and other opportunities in the UK.