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Meet Andy Williams: ESA Business Applications Regional Ambassador (South West England & South Wales)

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Welcome to my first blog of 2021! Actually, it’s my first blog ever – but one has to join the digital age at some point! 

I am the ESA Business Applications Regional Ambassador for South West England and South Wales – which is a rather long title and goes down a storm at parties…. (if only there were any these days!).

I intend to use this blog to let you know about upcoming ESA Business Applications activities including: events, funding, and of course to raise awareness of the open application process within Business Applications. I will also use it to mention any activities going on across the wider South West region.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you have any news worth sharing or are interested in any of the funding calls/events/information that I mention in the blog. Note that this is a personal blog and all views are my own…

So with that said, it’s definitely worth starting off with two big news stories that have significant interest to the space sector in the South West.

Successful Launch of Virgin Orbit in US, and Spaceport Cornwall’s new mascots!

Image credit: Virgin Orbit

In January we saw the successful launch of Virgin Orbit’s horizontal launch of Cosmic Girl from Mojave Air and Spaceport in California. This is great news for Spaceport Cornwall at Newquay, which will be used by Virgin Orbit for UK based launches – potentially as soon as 2022!

Now although not directly relevant to ESA Business Applications it still has huge relevance to deployment of space services and to UK businesses wanting to utilise those space services in the future. 

Having this sort of infrastructure on our doorstep is fantastic news for the regional space sector economy and for the downstream future users of space applications.  Space enabled services – whether it is in satellite communications, satellite navigation or earth observation – offer significant benefits to applications in areas such as health, agriculture, energy, transport etc. – and ESA funding can help commercialise innovative applications.

Image credit: Spaceport

Spaceport Cornwall have also recently told us all about their wonderful new mascots Lorell and Palores. With Lorell meaning Satellite in Cornish and Palores meaning “Chough” (I pronounce this “Chuff”), which is an amazing red-billed bird that has been associated with Cornwall for centuries! 

I’m really looking forward to discovering more of Lorell and Palores adventures as we approach launch in Cornwall!


G7 coming to Cornwall

The other *big* news in January was of course the announcement that the G7 summit will be held in the South West later this year. St Ives (in fact Carbis bay) will be hosting the 7 largest advanced economies including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. At the event this year Australia, India and South Korea are invited as guest countries. The G7 meets annually to discuss issues such as global economic governance, international security, and energy policy.

With the summit coming to the region we have an opportunity to promote the significant benefits that the space sector brings to global issues such as climate change. Through Earth Observation, space applications are used to monitor the changing environment.  Satellite navigation and satellite communications help mitigate global challenges and natural disasters through essential services. Let’s hope we can bring together this message and get it across to the global leaders!

Landing on Mars and VR headsets!

Finally, I cannot not mention the landing of NASA Perseverance, which safely reached the surface of the Red Planet on Mars in February.  When it comes down to it, I am a massive space-geek and was glued to Nasa TV throughout the entry, descent and landing sequence.  In fact I even managed to steal my son’s Virtual Reality Headset for a few minutes so I could actually sit in JPL’s operations room – that was until my son managed to prize it back off me so he could watch himself!


ESA Business Applications news

Ok – now on to matters closer at hand…ESA Business Applications latest news! 

First it’s worth noting that ESA Business Applications are starting a weekly webinar Wednesdays at 11:00 CET (that’s 10am our time folks!) giving up to date information on upcoming ESA Business Applications tenders and other useful information.

You can visit the ESA website to find out more.

There are lots of great funding areas coming out from ESA Business Applications over the next couple of months and I summarise a few of the more interesting ones relevant for UK companies here:

Image credit:

Space-based Innovation and Digitalisation for the School of Tomorrow, 50% funding up to 1M Euro,
24th March – 23rd April 2021

Funding for deploying and demonstrating services to respond to the need of innovation in the education sector – utilising space-based services (EO, SatNav, SatCom). Initial focus is around Sport for Everyone, looking at targeted services such as Virtual Students Championships, Sport for students with disabilities, Sport for social inclusion.

Intelligent Transport, 50% funding up to 1M Euro, 18th January – 30th April 2021


Funding for Feasibility Study or a Demonstration Project addressing the theme of Intelligent Transport systems. The concept of smart cities transmuting into digital societies, and transport systems indispensable for making the life of citizens easier. Four key focus areas: Sustainable and Safe Mobility Based on Advanced Traffic Management Systems, Advanced Traveller Advisory System, Advanced and Safe Public Transportation System, Advanced Rail Transport Management Systems.

Image credit: metamorworks


Smart and Uncrewed Shipping, 50% funded,
15 th March – 15 th Sep 2021

Seeking innovative user-driven solutions relying on advanced technologies such as 5G and satellite PNT (Positioning, Navigation and Timing) supporting smart and uncrewed shipping.

Use cases include Secure autonomous vessels operations and/or remote piloting, Digitalization at sea and ports, Predictive maintenance and support to remote operations at sea, Reduction of emissions and environmental impact , Maritime safety and more….

Space Systems for Safety and Security (4S) Applications, 50% funding, open call to 2025

Image credit: urbans

Feasibility study or Demonstration project focusing on utilising space based services for safety and security applications.

Areas of applications include (but not limited to) Transport (maritime, aviation, rail, road – manned & unmanned), Essential Services and Critical infrastructures (utilities, finance, health system, logistics), Public Safety (emergency services, fire brigade, law enforcement, civil protection).

Image credit: Benjamin Suter

Proptech, 75% funding up to 60k Euro, 14th Sep 2020 – 26th March 2021

Property Technology, “PropTech”, is a term that encompasses the application of information technology and platform economics to real estate markets. UKSA is supporting theme 3 of this call Construction Technology and Smart Buildings: technology used to innovate the way in which companies conceptualise, design, engineer and build structures, as well as manufacture and install their components.



Space Resources, 19th April – 30th June 2021

In-situ resource utilisation (ISRU) concepts considering mining concepts used on Earth that can apply to Space in the future. This includes things like reducing use of Water in Mining, solar powered mining machinery, remote and autonomous operations, agile and precise mining equipment.

UKSA is not directly supporting this fully funded call but UK teams are still welcome to apply for 50% funding via Direct Negotiation on this
topic via the Open call (see below…).

There is also the open call for any innovative idea or application which is commercially focused and utilises space based assets. 50% funding is available from 60k Euro up to 1M Euro+. Contact me or follow this link for more details.

So that’s all from me for my first blog. I’ll post with an update of more ESA Business Applications news soon, and if you have anything interesting to share then please let me know.

Have fun!

Andy W.

The European Space Agency (ESA) Business Applications UK Regional Ambassador Platform – South West

England and South Wales (RAP-SW) is hosted by the University of Exeter in collaboration with:
● ESA Space Solutions
● UK Space Agency
● Satellite Applications Catapult South West Centre of Excellence

The South West Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications is based in Cornwall with the University of Exeter as the lead delivery partner.
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