Knowledge is Power

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By Nafeesa Dajda, Satellite Applications Catapult Knowledge Exchange Manager

Investing in Knowledge Exchange programmes is an invaluable means of identifying new opportunities and engaging the most appropriate stakeholders, explains Nafeesa Dajda.

Every £1 invested in Knowledge Exchange is worth £9.70 to the UK economy and society, with returns likely to grow further, according to new research published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Business benefits include identifying and developing student enterprise and talent, while local economic development and promoting the use of new technologies throughout industry are among the wider benefits generated.

Here at the Catapult, Knowledge Exchange is a significant part of our activity, forming an essential element of our engagement with industry and academia, and enabling many collaborative opportunities.

The Value of Knowledge Exchange in Space

As the UK Space sector continues to pursue its target of a 10 per cent share of the global Space market by 2030, having a comprehensive understanding of what space-related research is taking place in research institutions throughout the UK is fundamental to the Catapult’s objectives.

With this awareness, we’re able to connect researchers with businesses (and vice versa) who, in turn, are able to utilise the available knowledge and skills to create new technologies and develop new products and services, or indeed influence and guide the direction of research.

This has seen us develop partnerships with many universities and research councils, and provide internship and secondment opportunities over the past 18 months.

Engaging with Academia

The Catapult is now actively engaged with 82 university departments, at 35 universities, across the UK. Part of this is a network of five Knowledge Exchange Fellows working at University of Leicester, University of Nottingham, University of Oxford, Aberystwyth University, and Plymouth Marine Laboratory. This initiative is in conjunction with partners including the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and UK Space Agency, with Fellows working on specific remits to identify areas of research strength with an unmet commercial need.

Extending reach through Centres of Excellence

Another major driver of our Knowledge Exchange programme has been the establishment of three Centres of Excellence – in the East Midlands, North East and Scotland – through which we have broadened our local engagement. Using business development workshops, exploratory clinics and technical support sessions, the Centres have facilitated new collaborations with academics and businesses, and used the opportunity to introduce non-space organisations to the potential of space technology.

The value of this approach was seen recently, when each Centre hosted a discovery workshop relating to the European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) and Copernicus Masters. Through this support, Realsafe Technologies became aware of the ESNC and went on to win the UK leg of the competition for its motorbike crash detection technology REALRIDER®.