29th January 2018

Solving Societal Challenges with Space Technology and Satellite Data

Urban Foresight is leading an open innovation programme using space technology and satellite applications

Urban Foresight and Business Durham are taking innovation to new heights with a new programme supporting growth of the space sector in North East England.

Part of the Satellite Applications Catapult Centre of Excellence (CoE), the programme aims to accelerate space and satellite related innovations and bring more investment into the region.

Satellite driven geo services are an integral part of a dynamic, global economy and can provide scalable market opportunities for data savvy innovators and entrepreneurs. In 2014, a bid led by Business Durham secured funding for a new Satellite Applications Catapult CoE based in the North East. Now, this exciting new innovation programme led by Urban Foresight will further help local companies to capitalise space technology and satellite applications, by opening up challenges to local industry, facilitating collaboration and providing support to develop funding bids.

The project is a fantastic opportunity to extend and strengthen innovation across the north east and will help to promote the region as a real centre of excellence in commercialising space technology and satellite data. The 3-year programme will develop projects and funding applications focused on realising the value of space technology to address societal challenges.

The first theme of the programme is focused on solving challenges in the Maritime sector using satellite applications. This reflects growing local and national interest on maritime security, pollution, efficiency and the resilience of infrastructure at sea. Following a problem framing event which explored issues faced in Maritime, Urban Foresight and the Satellite Applications Catapult are facilitating progression of the opportunities and partnerships identified. One initiative is exploring the role of machine learning to examine past and present shipping behaviour to improve security alerts at sea; with potential to create efficiencies, improve incident response and create a safer maritime environment.

Potential future initiatives include the use of satellite technology to modernise ports by increasing logistic efficiency and reducing pollution; and the monitoring and prediction of floods and leaks to enhance water management.

Catherine Johns, Innovation and Business Growth Director of Business Durham, explained, “Open innovation processes typically start with creative processes to identify and access external opportunities, translating these into investable projects, demonstrating that they work and scaling up solutions into full commercial offerings. For the programme to be successful and to have a real impact, organisations will need support in progressing between each of these phases over an extended period of time.”

Dr David Beeton, Director of Urban Foresight: “We are delighted to be supporting local companies to develop space and satellite business ventures. Our work will help bring more investment to the area and further enhance the reputation of the North East space sector.”

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