UK agency allocates £65 million to maintain country’s space tech role
1 Oct 2023
The UK Space Agency is investing up to £65 million into innovations through the National Space Innovation Programme (NSIP) in a move aimed to cement the country's strong presence in space technologies and applications.
Rob Desborough, Managing Partner at investment firm Seraphim Space, emphasised the significance of the investment:
"The UK has a thriving SpaceTech ecosystem, with over $47 billion of private capital invested globally in the space sector since 2015.
“The UK accounted for 17% of this total, positioning it as the second most attractive destination, following only the US. Mechanisms like this are critical for the UK to maintain its prominence in a globally competitive market projected to exceed $1 trillion by 2030."
The NSIP, which was itself launched just three years ago, aims to use the funding opportunity to tackle climate change through use of satellite data and ensuring the sustainability of in-orbit applications.
Proposals are invited from those hoping to access part of the first tranche of funding, totalling up to £34 million. The remaining money will be available through subsequent rounds in 2024 and 2025, with projects set to run until March 2027.
Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency Dr. Paul Bate commented that the programme would “support the UK's most ambitious space technology projects and their potential to address real-world challenges, catalyse investment, deliver new missions and capabilities, and harness the power of space to improve lives”.
Previously, NSIP has provided more than £25 million in funding to UK organisations including for SatVu’s Middle Wavelength Infra-Red (MWIR) satellite, launched in June this year and harnessing Earth observation data to analyse building emissions, enabling enhanced energy use and reduced emissions.
Another beneficiary, the University of Northumbria received grant to design, test, and build a miniaturised laser optical communications terminal, with potential applications for future satellite constellations and space science missions.
The NSIP funding allocation is divided between major projects and kick-starter funding. NSIP Kick Starter focuses on providing targeted support to early-stage innovations.
Pic: Artist's impression of laser-based communications between cubesats in space (Northumbria University)