A space technologies centre of excellence based at Leicester University has won funding for two years to bring hi-tech know-how for the benefit of businesses in the region.

The East Midlands Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications is to be located at the University’s new Leicester Innovation Hub, a £5.1m dedicated creative incubation and innovation space in the heart of the city.

The hub is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), to provide an easy to find ‘front door’ to the University’s innovation support, expertise and facilities, especially in Earth Observation and GIS.

The new Centre will receive £200,000 per year, part-funded by the Satellite Applications Catapult and UK Space Agency, to employ dedicated staff to showcase innovative commercial uses of satellite data and to establish closer links/collaborations between industry and academia in the region.

The Earth Observation Innovation Fellow in the Leicester Innovation Hub will be on hand to help companies practically use the satellite data to create and launch new products and services.  

Professor Roland Leigh, Chief Executive of the Centre, said: “The East Midlands has an incredibly strong heritage in the space sector, and the potential for significant growth through the use of satellite data.

“This centre will work across the East Midlands, engaging with businesses and higher educational institutions, in order to drive economic growth by supporting businesses in understanding the potential of the use of satellite data, and fostering the development of related applications.

“Our purpose is to establish regional presence and represent the Satellite Applications Catapult in the East Midlands. 

“In the first three months, we have identified our focus areas and priorities, where satellite-enabled solutions are capable to bring economic impact in the East Midlands in terms of Future transport; Agri-tech and Low-carbon technologies.

“In the first quarter, the Centre has engaged with at least 10 businesses and helped initiate three collaborative projects.”

Colin Baldwin, UK Space Gateway programme manager, said: “The UK Space Agency is delighted to support the East Midlands Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications. 

“The UK’s space sector underpins £250 billion of the UK’s economic activity across a diverse range of other sectors. 

“This centre will help companies from across these sectors to develop new capabilities using space data and services.”

Working closely with the Leicester Innovation Hub, the Centre also plans to align its work with the Space Park, Leicester.