By September 4, 2019 Read More →

July grants top £6m, plus news of EO project funding

Grants to from the UK Space Agency to businesss hit £6,379m in July, as the Agency published its spending data as part of its transparancy obligations. In the table opposite, we strip out the employee expenses, training costs, the costs of other professional services, costs of contractors, etc, to look at the grants and funding awarded to private businesses and universities.

July saw Reaction Engines as the biggest winner in the month’s funding, adding just shy of another £2.5m to its total for the year. The company has now received over £8.5m since January as it looks to test its SABRE engine. The grants for Reaction Engines now dwarf all other funding in the sector, with Inmarsat coming in a distant second at less than a quarter of the funding – £2.15m for the year to the end of the July. It received a whisker over £1.06m in July, just behind Ecometrica which was awarded £1.18m. Only four companies and organisations received awards into five figures: Orbital Express Launch (£268k), the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (£284k), AVS Added Value Solutions (£155k) and Vivid Economics (£104k).

July also saw the UK Space Agency announce that ten projects would receive a share of £2m to develop technologies to further extend the UK’s leadership in Earth Observation. The flagship SERMON project led by RAL Space and supported by the UK Space Agency will use microwaves to examine the atmosphere in order to improve weather forecasting. The equipment will be tested onboard a converted aircraft but could in future be deployed on small satellites or high-altitude drones.

Other UK Space Agency supported projects include developing 3D printing techniques which could lead to light-weight materials being used instead of metals for key components of weather satellites, reducing weight and cost, and improving gravity measurements which are important for our understanding of climate science.

Eyes and ears

UK Space Agency CEO Graham Turnock said: “Earth Observation technology provides us with the eyes and ears for monitoring our planet and underpins dozens of scientific fields, from oceanography to meteorology, so I’m delighted to announce this new funding which is being matched by industry to maintain momentum in science innovation, job creation and growth.”

This investment has come through the Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation (CEOI), which is the UK Space Agency’s national Earth Observation technology R&D funding programme. The ten projects receiving a share of £2m are split into Pathfinder, Fastrack and Flagship categories. The Pathfinder projects include an innovative flat lens from the University of Glasgow which would save weight over traditional curved lenses and a reconfigurable software defined radio receiver called Babel, developed by In-Space.

The FastTrack projects include HYMAS-X, 3DPAMS and META-TEL from the Universities of Cambridge, Cardiff and the National Physical Laboratory which will deliver technologies to improve remote sensing of the atmosphere, for more accurate weather forecasting and monitoring air quality. And LEGO from the University of Surrey and CAGE from Teledyne e2v will develop gravity sensors.

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