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Press Release

UK Space Agency announces £10m funding boost for telecoms innovation

Tue 27 Feb 2024

The UK Space Agency has unveiled a £10 million ($12.6 million) funding competition, aimed at advancing UK technologies in global telecommunications services, products, and applications.

This funding, part of the UK’s commitment to the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Advanced Research in Telecommunication Systems (ARTES) programme, seeks to foster a wide array of innovative telecom solutions.

Andrew Griffith MP, Minister for Space, emphasised the strategic importance of telecommunications for the UK, highlighting its role in enhancing connectivity, healthcare, and navigation across the country.

“Our additional investment of £10 million today will put the UK at the forefront of the next generation of telecoms,” Griffith stated, underlining the Government’s support for the sector.

Unlocking Future Telecoms Technologies

Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, noted the UK’s heritage in communications technology and the potential of this funding to expand the country’s product and service range in the telecom sector.

“This funding will help UK companies develop and broaden their range of products and services – from satellite components to ground systems,” Bate said, pointing out the opportunity to catalyse investment and harness future telecoms technologies.

The ARTES programme is designed to stimulate innovation in telecommunications, with the potential to support projects enhancing connectivity in remote areas, facilitating medical supply delivery via drones, or managing traffic for autonomous vehicles.

Previous projects include the development of a miniature ground station for disaster relief and the first European in-orbit demonstration of water propulsion technology.

The funding is part of the UK’s broader strategy to maintain its leadership in scientific and technological advancement, with future telecoms being one of the critical technologies identified in the Science and Technology Framework.

Antonio Franchi, Head of 5G/6G Non-Terrestrial Network Programme Office at ESA, highlighted the collaborative nature of the ARTES programme and its role in supporting digital transformation and ensuring Europe’s leadership in telecommunications.

“By supporting innovation, we support the advancement of the digital transformation of society and industry. Together, we ensure Europe’s leading position in the field of telecommunications,” said Franchi.

The UK Space Agency plans to host a webinar on 22 March to provide more information to potential applicants about the funding opportunity and how to apply.

This initiative builds on the UK’s significant investment in the ARTES programme and the recent opening of ESA’s European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications at the Harwell Space Cluster, which includes a 5G/6G Hub fostering satellite and terrestrial telecommunications network convergence.

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