A University of Edinburgh space project will receive government money under a new funding scheme.
The project will support Malawian farmers by developing land-classification maps of high potential agricultural sites, providing a vital planning tool.
This will help regional authorities plan large-scale agriculture, following the model set by the ‘Jacoma Estates’ mega-farm in the area, which has already provided productivity-improving micro-financing, and a route to market for over 5,000 Malawian smallholder farmers.
As part of the project, the university will work with companies Trade in Space and Geospace Agricultural.
“This UK Government-funded project is an example of how space innovation can solve important global problems and improve lives,” said UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart.
“The Scottish researchers are playing a key role in helping Malawian farmers plan for large-scale agriculture projects by developing land-use maps.
“Continued UK Government investment into the space sector will cement the UK as a global leader in space. The latest figures show the Scottish space industry now employs close to 8,000 people and generates nearly £254 million to the economy.”
Funding is being provided by the UK Government through the UK Space Agency to five different projects. These are designed to unite UK businesses with universities in order to share their expertise. In addition, the National Space Research and Innovation Network for Technology (SPRINT) will support the new projects.
SPRINT helps provide access to university space expertise and facilities to help businesses develop new commercial products.
“The UK’s space sector is flourishing and it is vital we give our most innovative space businesses and universities the right support to collaborate, share best practice and drive forward new ideas that could help enrich all our lives,” said Science Minister Amanda Solloway in a statement.
“Today’s funding will provide lift-off to some of the country’s most ambitious space collaborations, accelerating potentially game-changing technologies that will help the UK respond to global challenges such as cutting carbon emissions.”
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In addition to the University of Edinburgh project, there are another four collaborations between universities and businesses receiving funding.
The University of Southampton is involved in two projects, one with ArchAI that will use AI to automatically detect archaeology on Earth observation data, in turn helping the company lower the cost of construction and ensure that vital historical sites are preserved.
In addition, Southampton University will work with Absolar Solutions to develop the company’s Carbon Action Planning Tool. This integrates satellite images, solar radiation, and LiDAR with other data sources to provide organisations with a clear view of a building’s current energy performance.
Meanwhile, the University of Leicester is also involved in two projects. It will work with XCAM to develop a novel machine learning solution to improve the accuracy of cleanroom monitoring and to efficiently report problems in real-time.
It will also work with Redshift Associates to develop analytics to track the carbon and pollution emissions of ships, with a new approach to establish emission audits of shipping fleets and their individual vessels.