The first collaborative activity within the UK-Australia Space Bridge framework is being launched by SmartSat CRC, UK Science and Innovation Network, and the Satellite Applications Catapult with the support of Austrade and the Australian Space Agency. SmartSat CRC and the Satellite Applications Catapult will fund research projects that align to the mutual benefits of both countries and create collaboration through the Space Bridge. These preliminary phase projects aim to develop and foster partnerships across academia and industry in both the UK and Australia. It is expected the projects will lead to larger collaborative research projects that grow industry capacity, provide an innovative end-product or capability, and build upon the respective space ecosystems of each country.
Projects will address four topic areas identified as strategically beneficial to the mutual interests of each country. These topics are Earth Observation and Climate Resilience; Agriculture and Land Management from Space; Enabling Connectivity and Innovative Space Communications; and Quantum Technologies for Space.
SmartSatCRC Chief Executive Officer Professor Andy Koronios said the Space Bridge Framework Arrangement is an important step in leveraging the significant research capabilities of both countries. “This is the first joint initiative to be undertaken since the announcement of the Space Bridge with the backing of both the UK and Australian governments. It is just the beginning of the exciting collaborative partnerships that aim for long term growth and commercial opportunities for both countries.”
Sam Adlen, chief strategy officer at the Satellite Applications Catapult said: “I am delighted that we are able to build on the hugely innovative and enabling UK-Australia Space Bridge and are able to make the first funding available for research projects that span the space industry across our two nations. This initial funding will begin to stimulate powerful partnerships that will drive opportunities for growth, prosperity, and space enabled benefits in both countries and for the sector as a whole.”
British High Commissioner to Australia, Vicki Treadell said these projects will be the first step in significant partnership. “It is wonderful to see the UK-Australia Space Bridge partnership in action with the provision of new funding for exciting space research projects, said Treadell. “This is an important first step in building our joint UK/Australian space sector capability and illustrates yet again the value of our partnership approach to scientific innovation.”
Australian Space Agency Head, Enrico Palermo, said the Space Bridge Framework Arrangement is a valuable partnership to ensure Australian businesses and researchers have greater opportunities to showcase their talents to the world. “The arrangement will open doors to build local capability, as well as significantly boosting our collaboration with the UK Space Agency.”
Arfan Chaudhry, International Director at the UK Space Agency, said: “As we grow the UK space sector and strengthen our international engagement, we are forging new and deeper partnerships to exploit opportunities and tackle challenges around the globe. This Space Bridge with our Australian friends will unlock funding and give life to ideas that will help combat climate change, deliver better communications and support sustainable agriculture.”
It is anticipated four projects, which must be completed by 30 June 2022, will be funded up to AUD$100,000 (GBP50,000) per project. SmartSat CRC will be manage the assessment process, in collaboration with the UK Science and Innovation Network and the Satellite Applications Catapult. Projects should involve UK and Australia partners and align to the SA Catapult Roadmap or SmartSat CRC Strategic Plan.