UK Space Agency opens £2.6m fund to support NHS through tech

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by Charlie Spargo

A joint initiative between the UK and European space agencies is making available £2.6 million in funding for a number of projects that can support NHS England as it copes with coronavirus.

Technological solutions can include drone technologies to deliver PPE, satellites to monitor outbreak spread, and much more - and the two space agencies have united to find innovators who can support the over-stretched health service which is overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.

The £2.6 million figure is an initial sum by the bodies, available for projects with a direct focus upon logistics within health delivery; managing infectious disease outbreaks; population health and wellbeing; recovering health system function and handling backlogs after the crisis; or preparedness for future epidemics.

Amanda Solloway MP, Science Minister, 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."

Professor Tony Young, NHS national clinical lead for innovation, added: "This is a global crisis that would overwhelm any health service on earth without strong action from the public and their public services, which is why the NHS is looking to industries across the world – or indeed from out of this world - for new and exciting innovations that could help improve the care we provide to patients or help the NHS respond to this pandemic."

Nick Appleyard, Head of Downstream Business Applications at ESA’s European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications, said: "Even in normal times, satellites and space technology offer solutions to our needs in connectivity and inclusion, in resilience and logistics, and to support healthcare provision in even the most extreme situations.

"The current circumstances challenge the space business community to show just how much it can offer, to help us through this a once in a century event. Speed is of the essence, so let us act without delay."