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Exploring opportunities with the space sector

05 October 2023

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The second in a series of Norwich Research Park Explorer Forums was held in September focused on the Space sector, run in collaboration with Space East, the UK’s newest space cluster.

The Norwich Research Park Explorer Forum is part of a wider Anglia Innovation Partnership (AIP) Enterprise Strategy which encourages the campus research community to meet together with specialist from different industry sectors for facilitated discussions, on specific themes, encouraging collaboration and the develop of new multi-disciplinary teams.

There are many potential positive outcomes from the AIP Explorer Forums including:

  • understanding and defining an issue or opportunity more clearly
  • helping to find solutions to industry problems
  • developing new market opportunities
  • starting new collaborations or ventures
  • applying existing technology to a new field
  • developing new business start-up ideas
  • identifying licencing opportunities
  • considering potential funding opportunities.

The all-day workshop explored new opportunities that are made possible when satellite applications, such as remote sensing and communication, combine with the Park’s expertise, capabilities, and research platforms. The workshop was facilitated by Matt Lawson, Founder and CEO of Downstream Innovation and the guests were a selection of individuals from both on and off the campus working in different fields, including space and biotechnology.

The workshop started with fantastic plenary lectures from  (1) Stuart Catchpole, Space East Cluster Manager, who provided background on the UK’s space clusters, (2) Sarah Cheesbrough, Senior Earth Observation Consultant of the Satellite Applications Catapult, who covered the latest in satellite observations, (3) Sheng Qi, UEA Science Faculty Associate Dean for Innovation who provide an excellent overview of UEA expertise, capabilities and platforms and (4) Kirsty Culley, AIP Science Collaboration Manager who provided a greater Park overview.

External companies, working in space related fields, who are a part of the Space East cluster, attended to help the researchers, from the Park, to understand the current status, solutions and challenges of the satellite sector. Researchers then helped the external companies to understand the capabilities of the science, based at Norwich Research Park, and spent time exploring synergies. The groups then worked together to generate ideas and explore tangible plans and next steps.

Areas explored included:

  • East Anglia as a testbed for new technologies
  • Data (availability, access, gaps and exploitation)
  • Next generation crops
  • Precision farming
  • Soil quality
  • Water management
  • Pesticide use
  • Forecasting and supply chains

Kirsty Culley, AIP Science Collaboration Manager and organiser of the event said, “We were delighted to hold our second Park Explorer Forum and welcome both Park and space sector leaders to explore new opportunities that have resulted from the establishment of Space East.

As always Matt facilitated a high paced dynamic workshop that had everyone engaged. At the end of the day, three potential projects emerged which we will now pursue. We are very grateful to those who attended and who took part in the various creative exercises with great enthusiasm.”

If you want to explore collaboration opportunities with groups on the park, please get in touch with Kirsty to find out more about Park research.

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