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UK Space Agency to back coronavirus projects


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The UK Space Agency has put up £2.6 million to fund projects using space technology to strengthen the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

It has made the move in a joint initiative with the European Space Agency (ESA) in support of NHS England.

The money comes from ESA’s Business Applications Space Solutions fund, in which the UK is a leading investor.

It will be made available for projects that address at least one of a group of issues: logistics for deliveries within the healthcare system, such as through the use of drones; managing infectious disease outbreaks; population health and wellbeing; recovering the health system function and handling backlogs after the crisis; and preparedness for future epidemics.

World leader

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “From new advanced software helping speed up cancer diagnoses to satellite communications connecting GPs to patients virtually, the UK space sector has been world leading in applying its innovations to supporting our brilliant NHS.

“This new funding will ensure that the latest innovations will be on the frontline of tackling the unique problems the coronavirus outbreak has created, helping medical staff to focus on delivering world class care.”

The agency pointed to the potential for satellite communications and navigation to contribute to the coronavirus response. It also provided the example of start-up company Lanterne, which has developed a free app to help people observe social distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus, using GPS satellite data and AI technologies.

Image from NOAA, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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