UK puts up £1m prize fund to boost satellite applications development

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The UK government’s Technology Strategy Board is set to invest up to £1 million ($1.7 million) to back small UK businesses with research and development support for risky but innovative space projects.

The TSB’s latest Launchpad competition will award grants covering half the cost of projects with a total price tag of between £50,000 and £400,000. Projects need to be close to market but too risky to take forward without any support, and based at or connected to the space technology cluster at Harwell, near Oxford.

The funding is intended to take space-related projects from proof-of-concept to prototyping and user-facing trials. Pre-start-ups, start-ups, micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses are eligible to apply by 3 September.

The TSB expects a significant proportion of the applicants to be for downstream satellite applications using space data. In addition to local laboratory facilities, Harwell hosts the UK’s Satellite Applications Catapult business support centre and the European Space Agency’s European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications.