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  • Satellite Evolution

SPRINT awards UKSA grants from to support business collaboration with devolved nations universities

The national SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) business support programme has awarded its latest set of grants to four UK businesses, enabling them to collaborate with Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) from the Devolved Nations.

The UK Space Agency recently extended its support for SPRINT to allow HEIs in the devolved nations to actively engage with the programme and benefit from the funded collaborations with industry partners that SPRINT can provide. The new collaborative projects with Heriot Watt University, University of St Andrews and University of Edinburgh will help these SMEs in delivering technology development, innovation for space and for space-enabled applications.

Colin Baldwin, Head of Local Growth Strategy at the UK Space Agency, said: “The National Space Strategy sets a clear ambition to unleash innovation and foster collaboration between space businesses and our world leading universities.

“We are working with partners across the UK to level up the space sector, and these exciting new partnerships in Scotland will develop new technologies and innovation for space applications.”

Dr Rain Irshad, Head of the national SPRINT programme added: “With the continued support from the UK Space Agency, we’ve been able to increase the collaborative opportunities available for UK space-related businesses to work with academic experts from a range of expert universities across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These four new grants will create high value partnerships to develop new space-related technologies for a range of related applications.”

The four new projects funded by SPRINT include:

  • ScotSat with Heriot Watt University Project: Validation of Flat Panel Antenna Technology

Despite the fact that connectivity has significantly improved in urban areas with the transition from 3G through 4G to 5G, the majority of the world’s land is still remote. Individuals travelling by train, plane or boat, industrial players operating in remote areas, and those who live in areas where the cost to deploy terrestrial infrastructure is too expensive, are all facing a drastic lack of internet connectivity.

ScotSat is developing high performance low profile and cost efficient Electronic-Steerable-FPA to enable global, fast and reliable mobile connectivity services in remote locations by using the available satellite infrastructure.

  • Integrated Graphene with University of St Andrews Project: The Characterisation of Novel Graphene Materials for the Development of Next-Generation High Performance Supercapacitors

Within this project, Integrated Graphene and the University of St Andrews will deliver high-performance supercapacitor electrodes that are cost-effective, lightweight, and flexible. The company will exploit ground-breaking 3D graphene foam manufacturing technology, utilising the extensive knowledge and resources at the University of St Andrews to enhance the performance of its existing technology, bringing the product’s specific energy up to 20Wh/kg.

Delivering this outcome will be the key first stage to bringing a supercapacitor to market with a comparatively high energy density. This represents an exciting commercial prospect of bringing a supercapacitor to the energy storage market within the space sector.

  • Farm-Hand with University of Edinburgh Project: Soil Composition Factors in Crop Yield Estimation

Developing methods of predicting crop yields is critically important to improve economic outcomes and reduce resource inputs for smallholder farmers in the global south. Prediction accuracy is hampered if the soil type is not accurately defined. This project will collect freely available remote sense data and measured in-situ data for 1400 farms in India.

Existing approaches for defining soil texture and soil organic carbon will be applied to the data, to create new methodologies, applicable to Indian agro-climate region and their soil types. These methodologies will allow Farm Hand to improve the yield forecast accuracy of its farm management platform

  • Mercury Environmental Systems with University of Edinburgh Project: Crop Yield and Carbon Decision-Support

Farmers are under increasing pressure to manage nitrogen-based fertilisers more cost-effectively and sustainably whilst maximising productivity. Working with farmers across England and Scotland, this project will support a large-scale farm trial that will help shape the development of the Mercury Crop Yield and Carbon Decision-Support Tool.

The tool comprises of a crop model – simulating growth and yield in response to weather – combined with satellite-derived observations of canopy development. Using historical meteorological data, the service can generate timely yield forecasts (4-5 months before in harvest) at the sub-field scale (10-20 metres), which can be used to support more efficient variable nitrogen applications.


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