A new drive to fund space-enabled technology and services that can strengthen the NHS response to coronavirus has been launched today by the UK Space Agency in a joint initiative with the European Space Agency (ESA).
An initial £2.6 million is being made available to fund several projects to develop hi-tech solutions to meet the most pressing challenges – successful projects will be ones that could address at least one of the following challenges:
- Logistics within the health delivery system, e.g. with drone deliveries
- Managing infectious disease outbreaks
- Population health and wellbeing
- Recovering health system function and handling backlogs after the crisis
- Preparedness for future epidemics
Businesses looking to seek funding should apply via ESA’s Business Applications Space Solutions fund https://business.esa.int/space-for-uk-covid-19.
The drive behind the call for projects is that satellite data and drone technology can help meet challenges such as delivering test kits, masks, gowns and goggles and managing infectious disease outbreaks.
“Even in normal times, satellites and space technology offer solutions to our needs in connectivity and inclusion, in resilience and logistics, and to support healthcare provision in even the most extreme situations.” explained Nick Appleyard, Head of Downstream Business Applications at ESA’s European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. “The current circumstances challenge the space business community to show just how much it can offer, to help us through this a once in a century event. Speed is of the essence, so let us act without delay.”
The space-enabled solutions could include satellite communications, satellite navigation, Earth observation satellites or technology derived from human spaceflight.
In support of the call, Professor Tony Young, the NHS National Clinical Lead for Innovation, commented “This is a global crisis that would overwhelm any health service on earth without strong action from the public and their public services, which is why the NHS is looking to industries across the world – or indeed from out of this world – for new and exciting innovations that could help improve the care we provide to patients or help the NHS respond to this pandemic.”
“The UK space sector is a world leader in applying satellite and data technology to challenges we face on Earth, from responding to natural disasters to managing outbreaks of infectious disease,” concluded Science Minister Amanda Solloway. “This new funding will help develop practical solutions from one of our most innovative industrial sectors to support our brilliant NHS.”