SPRINT programme aiming to transform business growth through space
The national SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) business support programme is open to METEOR partners and UK-registered SMEs.
SPRINT provides unprecedented, funded access to university space expertise and facilities to help businesses through the commercial exploitation of space data and technologies. It is delivered by a consortium of five of the UK’s leading space universities, led by the University of Leicester and including the University of Edinburgh, The Open University, University of Southampton and University of Surrey.
The programme is supported by Research England, the Scottish Funding Council and the UK Space Agency, and by a network of partners within the UK’s space innovation ecosystem, representing government agencies, business support and innovation organisations and the space investment community. As an example, its work with the Seraphim Space Camp Accelerator is a vital part of a strategy to engage more widely with key partners in the investment in space business eco-system and to develop a better, more integrated pathway for the successful commercialisation of original HEI space and space-enabled technologies.
To date, SPRINT has engaged with over 450 businesses across the UK, enabling over 90 collaborative innovation projects across the UK based on:
- Developing new cutting-edge space technologies
- Exploiting data from satellites providing new policy and business insights
- Translating expertise gained from space research to solve challenges in non-space sectors
- Collaborating with HEIs outside their ‘home’ region
A number of METEOR partners have used SPRINT to kick-start new products and services, from space engineering to earth observation, and novel applications of machine learning. These include:
“SPRINT is ideal to fill the gap in our research capabilities by offering a very specific skillset in academic research that is very difficult for other commercial partners to match.”
Dave Fox, CEO of Geospatial Insight
“We were introduced to SPRINT by the University of Leicester. Although we have internal R&D, it’s difficult for small businesses to commit resources and we wouldn’t consider working with a commercial provider on this particular project as there are potential IP challenges. Working with the University allows us to stay in control of this.”
James Eddy, Technical Director at Bluesky
“The project is something that we wanted to do but critically, needed a partner that was strong in space and could provide validation. We’ve been working with the University of Leicester on various projects since 2010. The SPRINT project takes this work forward by utilising the University’s expertise and knowledge to enable us to build and verify a device that is suitable for space applications.”
Kevin Simpson, Technical Director at European Thermodynamics
“SPRINT funding has enabled us to access the expertise of the SPRINT universities for our research and, by working with the University of Leicester on this particular project, we can apply and assess novel validation techniques.”
Gary Llewellyn, Remote Sensing Consultant at 2Excel Geo
There are also related projects for other University of Leicester partners such as Bloc Digital and XCAM. A selection of case studies on key SPRINT projects can be found at www.sprint.ac.uk/case-studies.
SPRINT provides funding to help businesses to develop a prototype or demonstrator to a point where it can be picked up and be supported by other larger funding or internal investment partners.
SPRINT benefits from a broad, coherent programme of strategic capital and innovation investment by its partners. These include Space Park Leicester, Leicester Innovation Hub, SET Squared in the South of England and Edinburgh’s Bayes Centre. These aligned investments create scale, infrastructure and regional clusters that feed on and are fed by the SPRINT programme. Space Park Leicester will be an important platform to showcase SPRINT and enhance the impact of the programme.