Goonhilly in Cornwall. Image courtesy of Shutterstock

New Satellite Applications Catapult Centre of Excellence for region

The University of Exeter will be better able to support business growth thanks to a new partnership with the UK Space Agency.

Experts at the University will help run a new Centre of Excellence using satellite data. This will allow academics to work with industry, particularly small businesses, to ensure new products and services become commercially available.

The Satellite Applications Catapult’s South West Centre of Excellence, which is co-funded by the UK Space Agency, will use data obtained through satellites to generate global trade opportunities for the South West. It is being set up in response to the growing interest in how this information can help transform existing businesses and create new companies.

This data provides information about the world around us, topics such as climate and weather, the location of ships and aeroplanes, and agriculture. A series of themed events and workshops will be organised to which local regional academics and business people will be invited to engage and exchange ideas and knowledge.

The Centre will be led by the University of Exeter, with a hub in Goonhilly in Cornwall, and staff resources in Goonhilly, Exeter, Plymouth and Falmouth. Other partners include Plymouth University, Falmouth University, the Met Office and Exeter Science Park, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Goonhilly Earth Station and Rothamsted Research. Its market focus areas will include agritech, maritime and e-health, healthcare supported by electronic communications. The three universities will work together with the Met Office, GES, Rothamsted and a number of commercial partners.

Professor Mark Goodwin, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Innovation and External Engagement), said: “This new Catapult Centre of Excellence will allow the University of Exeter to help support business and research innovation in the South West. We are committed to working locally, regionally and internationally, to help drive new developments and business growth in this exciting field.

“Big Data and Data Analytics hold incredible potential for our region, and this Centre, together with the proposed Met Office supercomputer and future development on the Exeter Science Park, will help build an internationally significant regional expertise.”

A new Centre of Excellence is also being established on the South Coast . There are existing centres in the East Midlands, North East England and Scotland.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: "The Government is backing the UK's successful space sector and ensuring more businesses can benefit from space technology through the Satellite Applications Catapult. These new and extended centres will deliver more support to businesses and scientists across the country, and help the space industry reach its ambition to grow to £40bn by 2030 and generate 100,000 new jobs.”

Stuart Martin, CEO of the Satellite Applications Catapult, said: “We’ve witnessed a significant upturn in regional engagement over the past two years through the initial three centres. This has included activities linking up the science base, large industry and SMEs to help develop satellite-derived applications and solutions.

“The network’s expansion to cover the southern region of the UK will hopefully result in generating further understanding and awareness of the opportunities that satellite data and technology can provide – especially among market sectors not currently engaging with them – and developing new commercial opportunities for the UK’s Space sector.”

Date: 24 February 2016

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