A group of school children from Cornwall and a student from Wiltshire have won a competition for ideas on how satellites could improve life on Earth.

Ellie Jones, Jessica Knight, both 15 and Summer Jeffery and Emily Haddrell, both 14, from Truro, scooped £7,500 for the best group entry in the UK Space Agency competition with their Surf Safe concept.

Ieuan Higgs, from Chippenham, received £7,500 for the best individual entry for his Infrastructure Planning and Development Analysis Tool.

The SatelLife Challenge supports the development of science, data handling and technological skills, complementing the Government’s Year of Engineering campaign which is championing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to the next generation.

Science Minister Sam Gyimah said: “The UK leads the world in building satellites and we want to encourage young people like those entering this competition to get involved in every part of our thriving space sector.

“The creative use of data from space can solve many challenges and help establish successful businesses.

“It’s a vital part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy to back the entrepreneurs of tomorrow as we build an economy that’s fit for the future.”

Ellie, Jessica, Summer and Emily’s idea was for a wristband that uses satellite location data and communications services to identify the locations of swimmers and surfers in the sea.

Ellie Jones said: “It was so exciting, finding out about the competition. We had never done anything at all like this before.

“As students living in Cornwall, the sea has always been important to us and from the very start we knew we wanted to do something involving the beach.

“It was such a surprise to find out we had won and every one was so happy when we got the email, for a long time, it didn’t seem real.

“This whole experience has been amazing, we really enjoyed having the opportunity to do something like this.

“It has definitely given us the confidence to pursue STEM careers moving forwards.”

When combined with tidal and rip tide data, this could provide real time tracking and identification of people approaching known danger areas, and provide coast guards or the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) with potentially life-saving information.

Jon Oxenham, RNLI’s Community Safety Manager, said: “It’s great to see young people thinking about water safety and creating new ideas which could save lives at sea.

“At the RNLI we are always trying to find new ways to save lives through innovation, data analysis, and new technology.”

The competition is split into three age groups: 11 – 16; 16 – 18; 18 – 22, and a further seven entries from across the age categories were awarded £5,000.

The judging panel was made up of experts from the UK Space Agency, the European Space Agency, the Satellite Applications Catapult in Harwell and industry.

All nine winning entries will be able to pitch their ideas to a panel of ‘dragons’ from the space sector.

In 2017 the competition winners were offered a mix of support including an offer to build a prototype, thousands of pounds worth of space on Amazon Cloud Services, access to data, business development advice and a visit to a satellite factory.

With one in four of all telecoms satellites already built substantially in Britain, the government’s Industrial Strategy includes plans to work with the industry to grow the space sector and establish commercial space launch services from the UK for the first time.