NEWS3 September 2019

SPRINT partners with FAIR-SPACE Hub to grow UK space sector

The partnership will provide UK businesses in space, robotics and AI sectors with access to funding and expertise from network of universities and industry partners.

The national SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) programme has signed a partnership agreement with the FAIR-SPACE Hub, a national centre of research excellence in space robotics and AI, based at the University of Surrey.

The two organisations will combine their complementary university research and innovation networks to provide companies operating in the space sector or in robotic and AI technologies with a larger and more connected university support network. This consortium of industry and academic partners can deliver funded expertise to help UK businesses develop new products and services, and to grow their businesses.

The £5 million SPRINT programme provides unprecedented access to university space expertise and facilities to help businesses develop new commercial products for space and other key sectors. It is being delivered by a consortium of five of the UK’s leading space universities, led by the University of Leicester and including the University of Edinburgh, Open University, University of Southampton and University of Surrey.
Led by the University of Surrey with over 30 international partners, the FAIR-SPACE Hub consortium offers a unique combination of expertise and capabilities to address key challenges in space robotics and autonomous systems.

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, Director of the FAIR-SPACE Hub, explains: “FAIR-SPACE Hub has integrated hardware and software testbeds that offer realistic simulation of space factors to facilitate testing and validation of research outputs on Earth. The technologies developed by FAIR-SPACE have applications in space and other industries where there is a need to navigate hazardous or challenging environments, such as nuclear, underwater, mining and agriculture.”

Ann Swift, FAIR-SPACE Hub Partnership Manager, said: “There are strategic synergies that cut across both the FAIR-SPACE Hub and the SPRINT programmes in that we are supporting the growth of the UK space sector and through that, boosting productivity and increasing R&D in industry here in the UK. We look forward to working with SPRINT to explore joint opportunities to provide UK businesses with access to funded expertise and technologies in space, robotics and AI.”

Ross Burgon, Head of the national SPRINT programme, added: “SPRINT is helping UK small-to-medium sized businesses to develop products and bring them to commercial markets, based on the space expertise, facilities and technologies of our partner universities. This collaboration with FAIR-SPACE Hub will build on SPRINT partner’s existing expertise in robotics, AI and High Performance Computing and provide additional funding and research opportunities.”

The FAIR-SPACE Hub is a UK national centre of research excellence in space robotics and Artificial Intelligence. The Hub was launched in November 2017 and is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the UK Space Agency, as part of the Government’s £84m R&D funding on Robotics and AI for Extreme Environments through the Industrial Strategic Challenge Fund.

The Space Research and Innovation Network for Technology (SPRINT) is a multi-university business innovation support programme supported by Research England as part of their Connected Capabilities Fund. SPRINT combines the capabilities and expertise of 5 top space universities for business use including the University of Leicester and the University of Edinburgh’s DiRAC High Performance Computing facilities, the University of Southampton’s Iridis, University of Surrey’s HS21 and the Open University’s IMPACT facilities.

For further media information, please contact:
Simon Gribbon (on behalf of SPRINT)
T: 07990 583371