The Open University’s (OU) award-winning space researchers are to benefit from significant new funding awarded by Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund (CCF) to the Space Research and Innovation Network for Technology (SPRINT) programme.
SPRINT - a consortium of the UK’s leading space universities, the OU and the Universities of Leicester, Edinburgh, Southampton and Surrey - helps UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) commercially exploit space data and technologies.
During the next year, the £1,998,503 Research England award will support SPRINT to significantly enhance strategic knowledge exchange driven business innovation within the space sector. The funding builds on Research England’s original £4.8 million investment in the network.
Since its launch in 2018, SPRINT has invested more than £3.6 million to support UK university-business collaborations and enabled space technology research and development activity worth £6.6 million. The funding has helped the programme engage with more than 450 businesses across the UK. Through it, OU researchers have collaborated with industry partners on diverse projects, from developing new high-performance imaging systems for space missions to creating new testing methods to spot the difference between real and fake Scotch Whisky.
David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England, said: “I am pleased to be able to invest further in Research England’s successful CCF programme. Follow-on funded projects demonstrate the diversity, importance and innovation of UK university commercialisation practice.
“This includes the power of university support to spin out new companies and raise business and private investment, spreading the benefits from science and research around the country.”
Andrew Holland, Academic lead and Professor of Electro-Optics at The Open University, said: “Research England’s latest funding is a welcome endorsement of what SPRINT has already achieved in three short years.
“The Open University is proud to be a lead partner in this innovative network and to continue to build on the techniques and expertise developed through inspirational space missions such as Rosetta and Euclid to help the UK’s businesses, particularly SMES, harness the power of the country’s leading space research.”