UK Space Agency – International Partnership Programme

The UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP) is a five-year, £30M/year ‘space for development’ programme established in 2016, and currently the largest undertaking of its kind in the world. It focuses on utilising the UK space sector’s research and innovation capabilities to deliver sustainable economic and societal benefits to emerging and developing economies around the world. IPP has so far grant-funded 33 projects in 44 countries across Africa, Asia-Pacific and South America, which are run by a large variety of UK and international organisations across industry, academia and non-profit entities. These projects address a variety of critical issues, including reducing deforestation, climate/disaster resilience, remote learning, land-use monitoring, reducing maritime problems, health and renewable energy. The projects generally take between two and five years to be delivered, and range from £500k to £15M in grant value plus match funding. IPP’s portfolio of partners now include 122 space sector organisations and 132 international organisations.

The IPP website (www.spacefordevelopment.org) outlines the goals and benefits of each project, its activities and results, and provides links to open-source study documents. This data is available to any organisation (e.g. development agencies) seeking advice, case studies and information for their databases to improve future projects.

Some recent examples of how IPP projects are demonstrating impact include:

  • The Earth and Sea Observation System (EASOS), developed in partnership with the Malaysian government, which has helped maritime authorities map the trajectory of oil spills, consequently improving the response to, and policing of, marine pollution. Clean-up costs saved by early intervention are estimated to be over £1.5M each in the two spills identified so far.
  • Two projects supporting sea rescues in South Africa, Madagascar and sustainable fishing in Indonesia have saved 45 lives, been used in 5 rescue missions and 976 small fishing boats have been equipped with vehicle tracking devices. Based on this, IPP is directly benefiting around 6,635 fishermen and indirectly almost 25,000 people in fishing households.
  • A collaboration between the UN, UK and Vietnamese partners is developing D-MOSS, a tool to predict outbreaks of Dengue Fever up to eight months in advance, allowing for life-saving preparations and preventative measures. The same methods could also be used to forecast outbreaks of Zika, which has recently begun to be reported in Vietnam.

IPP projects have supported 12 disaster situations since the Programme’s creation, provided satellite data to 25,000 farmers worldwide, provided training to over 300 rural health professionals and satellite internet learning tools to over 34,000 students and 500 teachers, provided satellite solutions to over 1000 fishing vessels and protected more than 380,000 hectares of forests through satellite-based observation. IPP projects have been shown to be more cost-effective in achieving their UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) than alternative non-space solutions.

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