New satellite innovations project to place East Midlands at the heart of the space sector

An in-car satellite navigation device
30 Oct 2013 17:20:30.370

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A new project led by The University of Nottingham is aiming to place innovation from the East Midlands at the forefront of the international space industries.

The Satellite Applications Business Innovation Programme will be targeted at overcoming the challenges of taking innovative academic research from university laboratories to the marketplace.

The programme at the University’s GNSS Research Applications Centre of Excellence (GRACE), a knowledge transfer and business engagement unit based at the University’s Nottingham Geospatial Institute (NGI), will also connect local businesses in the region to work taking place at the national Satellite Applications Catapult, based in Harwell in Oxfordshire, which centres on the development and commercial exploitation of space and satellite-based products, services and applications.

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Paul Bhatia, General Manager at GRACE, said: “The global space sector is predicted to grow to £400 billion by 2030, with the Government driving the UK’s huge ambition to increase its share of that from the current £7 billion to £40 billion.

“The programme will be aiming to ensure that the East Midlands can claim a slice of the action by providing a direct link for the region’s business community into the Catapult and national organisations such as the Technology Strategy Board, the Government’s agency for accelerating innovation.

“We will be engaging with industry and universities to enable knowledge transfer,  and collaborative working, all with the ultimate goal of creating new business ventures and space-related technologies for the marketplace.”

Crossing the Valley of Death

The new £1.5m programme includes significant funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Catalyst Fund, which supports the delivery of the UK’s strategic aims to higher education across research, teaching and knowledge exchange, and through direct and in kind contributions from the Satellite Applications Catapult and industry.

Among the challenges which the programme will be addressing will be tackling the so-called Valley of Death — the gap which has arisen between the development of technologies through academic research and the ability to transform it into an end result which is market ready. Product development is a costly business and it can often be difficult to attract businesses willing to gamble on its potential success.

Professor Terry Moore, Director of the Nottingham Geospatial Institute, said: “As a nation the UK is fantastic at devising new innovations but not always so successful at translating that into commercial success and we are often overtaken by our international rivals who are better placed to capitalise on those new technologies. To ensure we don’t fall further behind, we need to meet that challenge head on.”

Budding entrepreneurs

GRACE also hosts the UK leg of the annual European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) which is open to anyone with an idea which uses satellite navigation technology — whether it be for position, time, navigation or for mobile device-based applications.

Under the programme, it will be using a special ESNC University Challenge 2013 category to promote the competition to budding student entrepreneurs and early career researchers interested in using their ideas for an innovation to win a potential share of €1 million in prizes, including cash, business incubation, coaching, patent consultancy and marketing support, access to customers and user communities and publicity.

More information is available online on the website for GRACE

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottinghamhas 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also the most popular university among graduate employers, the world’s greenest university, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the World's Top 75 universities by the QS World University Rankings.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

More information is available from Paul Bhatia, General Manager for GRACE, on +44 (0)115 823 2332,

Emma Thorne Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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