Eight more universities join UK space programme

The new associate members of the SPRINT partnership will offer expertise to SMEs commercially working with space data and technologies

A programme designed to broaden space-related knowledge exchange across the UK is to welcome eight universities as associate members.

The HE institutions joining SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) are Durham University, Kingston University, University of Bristol, University of Exeter, University of Glasgow, University of Leeds, University of Strathclyde, and City, University of London.

“SPRINT is designed to enable the pull-through of innovation into commercial opportunities to expand UK exports, IP, and know-how,” said Ann Swift, SPRINT’s national innovation manager.

“With our new associate members, we will further showcase the strengths of the UK space sector to provide a compelling opportunity for international investment from the UK’s leading space technology innovation network.”

SPRINT brings together universities, industry, government agencies and investors with the aim of helping small to medium enterprises (SMEs) commercially exploiting space data and technologies.

Priority sectors for innovation include robotics and smart machines, advanced materials and manufacturing, AI, and digital and advanced computing.

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SPRINT says that its new associate members “bring a wealth of experience and expertise in the research domains of earth information to tackle climate change, connectivity to ensure real-time access to data for decision-making, and low-cost access to space, including propulsion”.

They join founder HE partners the University of Leicester, University of Edinburgh, Open University, University of Southampton, and University of Surrey.

In part, the newcomers have also been selected on a geographical basis, helping SPRINT make good on an ambition to deliver a fully nationwide network to support the UK space ecosystem.

They will also help balance the fact that the programme’s commercial partners are heavily slanted towards the capital, with just 15 of the 82 businesses involved based outside of London, the south-east and the East Midlands.

To date, SPRINT claims to have enabled £6.6m of research and development, completed 74 projects, and created 22 jobs.

“The UK space economy is recognised as one of the fastest growing sectors and is constantly evolving,” said Martin Barstow, principal investigator for the national SPRINT programme and director of strategic partnerships for Space Park Leicester.

“One of the driving principles of the SPRINT programme is to support commercialisation of space-enabled projects by successfully bringing science, research and data expertise to UK businesses. The Associate Membership initiative will strengthen the academic resources and capabilities available through SPRINT to facilitate space sector growth.”

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