University to investigate use of satellite technology to support maritime business

Plymouth University is part of a new regional hub exploring how satellite technology can be used to drive business growth in the South West.

Academics will work alongside other universities, research institutes and commercial partners through the Satellite Applications Catapult’s new South West Centre of Excellence.

Co-funded by the UK Space Agency, the centre will use data obtained through satellites to generate global trade opportunities for local businesses.

This data provides information about the world around us, including topics such as climate and weather, the location of ships and aeroplanes and agriculture, and the centre will host regular themed events and workshops to which local businesses will be invited.

The project will build on Plymouth University’s existing expertise in supporting businesses in the marine and maritime sector, through initiatives such as the Marine Innovation Centre (MARIC).

Professor Kevin Jones, Executive Dean of Science and Engineering at Plymouth University, said:

“Satellites already play a key role in supporting maritime operations, as no other technology can provide communications and monitoring in the remote regions of the world’s oceans. This project will enable us to expand on our work with industry to develop new applications, building on Plymouth’s extensive history and capability in marine and maritime industries. It is also an opportunity to explore potential new applications for satellite technology, in relation to marine autonomous systems and remote sensing.”

The South West centre is one of three announced today, and other partners include the University of Exeter, Falmouth University, the MET Office, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Goonhilly Earth Station and Rothamsted Research. Its market focus areas will include agritech, maritime and e-health, healthcare supported by electronic communications.

The other new centres being established are in the South Coast and the Highlands and Islands, while there are existing centres in the East Midlands, central Scotland and north-east England.

Stuart Martin, CEO of the Satellite Applications Catapult, said:

“We’ve witnessed a significant upturn in regional engagement over the past two years through the initial three centres. This has included activities linking up the science base, large industry and SMEs to help develop satellite-derived applications and solutions. The network’s expansion to cover the southern region of the UK and the Highlands and Islands will hopefully result in generating further understanding and awareness of the opportunities that satellite data and technology can provide – especially among market sectors not currently engaging with them – and developing new commercial opportunities for the UK’s Space sector.”

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

"The government is backing the UK's successful space sector and ensuring more businesses can benefit from space technology through the Satellite Applications Catapult. These new and extended centres will deliver more support to businesses and scientists across the country, and help the space industry reach its ambition to grow to £40 billion by 2030 and generate 100,000 new jobs.”

Colin Baldwin, UK Space Gateway Programme Manager at the UK Space Agency, added:

“The UK Space Agency is delighted to support this initiative. The expanded network of Catapult Centres of Excellence demonstrates that applications of satellites provide business opportunities across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.”

MARIC

The Marine Innovation Centre (MARIC) is situated within the Marine Institute and builds connections between maritime businesses.

Find out more about MARIC