Leicester academics receive cash boost for pioneering international space partnership
Experts at the University of Leicester’s Space Park Leicester have received a share of a multi-million fund for its work with the Kingdom of Bahrain.
The UK Space Agency has awarded the University of Leicester and Geospatial Insight a share of its £20m International Bilateral Fund, for partnerships which are boosting UK innovation. The award recognises and supports development of their partnerships with the Bahrain National Space Science Agency (NSSA), CGI and REEF Digital.
The University of Leicester partnership will receive up to £75,000 from the fund’s first phase for its work on carbon mapping sensors for monitoring greenhouse gas emission management programmes in Bahrain and the wider Gulf region.
Earlier this year, the Leicester academics also received funding from the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to support Bahrain’s NSSA with plans to help develop its laboratory into a Regional Space Research Centre.
Space Park Leicester Executive Director Professor Richard Ambrosi said: “This collaboration is recognition of the importance of the UK space sector in the world.
“It was a huge honour for Space Park Leicester to be selected by the FCDO to support the NSSA and we’re thrilled to have now received further funding from the UK Space Agency.
“This is an exciting time as there’s great potential for The Gulf States to grow their space capabilities and the Kingdom of Bahrain is a big part of that.”
Earlier this year representatives from the NSSA visited the UK to meet with experts at Space Park Leicester and the Satellite Applications Catapult in Harwell.
In addition to meetings held in Bahrain, the FCDO funding allowed Space Park Leicester to organise workshops for representatives from the NSSA with experts at Space Park Leicester and at the Satellite Applications Catapult in Harwell. During these sessions, the NSSA also met with representatives from the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency.
Space Park Leicester Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology and Earth Observation Research Centre (METEOR) Programme Manager Dr Stephen Wright ran workshops with the Bahrain delegation when they visited Leicester and he was also among the academics from the city who visited Bahrain this year.
He said: “We were made incredibly welcome when we visited Bahrain and we had many in-depth and free-flowing conversations with the senior NSSA leadership about their ambitions for the future.
“It’s exciting for us to be able to collaborate with the NSSA on both skills development and technical delivery.
“This new funding from the UK Space Agency builds on our previous work with the NSSA and will ultimately bring together a number of businesses, academics and international space agencies to collaborate on innovation in the space sector.”
Dr Mohamed Al Aseeri, NSSA CEO added: “The NSSA is thrilled to collaborate with University of Leicester and Geospatial Insight as a supporting International Partner in the project sponsored by the UK Space Agency's International Bilateral Fund.
“The project is focusing on Earth Observation and Data Analytics, aiming in its first phase to investigate utilising space technologies for monitoring air quality in Bahrain and the Gulf region in an attempt to proactively monitor and potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Gulf region.
“We believe that working alongside experts from both partners is an excellent opportunity for knowledge sharing, serving the national and regions’ needs and further strengthens the international partnership and collaboration in the space sector.”
Dr Al Aseeri concluded by thanking the UK Space Agency for contributing to the growth of the space ecosystem, praised the teams’ efforts and wished them luck in planning and applying for Phase 2 of the UKSA International Bilateral Fund.