• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Support for 10 to 12 KTP projects of between six and 36 months, helping to translate the UK’s academic strengths in this area into commercial success.

  • Programme: Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

  • Award: TBC

  • Opens: 15 Sep 2014, 00:00

  • Registration closes: No deadline

  • Closes: 11 Feb 2015, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

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Innovation in the space sector


NERC logoInnovate UK and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) are jointly investing up to £1.3m to help UK companies establish new Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) in the space sector.

This targeted competition for KTPs will support 10 to 12 KTP projects of between six and 36 months, helping to translate the UK's academic strengths in this area into commercial success.

The aim is for businesses to gain the research-driven knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions, in line with the UK's Space Innovation and Growth Strategy (IGS). Companies will then be better placed to exploit the expanding global space market.

Where businesses are developing ‘upstream' projects in satellite and satellite instrument manufacture, these should generally be aligned with the National Space Technology Strategy.

‘Downstream' projects, including applications, must identify a specific need linked to a defined market/endproduct, or must clearly bridge the gap between upstream development and downstream use.

We will also support projects – upstream or downstream – that draw on expertise outside the space sector, such as in the technology of the target market or technology transfer from other domains.

We will fund part of the cost of running the KTP project, with the level of grant depending on the size of the company. Project costs vary with the average being around £60k a year, of which an SME might contribute about one-third, but this depends on the individual project.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) will consider co-funding KTPs on an individual basis.

There will also be a bursary fund for a number of KTP associates from the cohort to attend the International Space University (ISU) summer school.

This competition opens on 15 September 2014 and is open on a rolling basis for applications until noon on 11 February 2015.

A briefing/launch event for potential applicants will be held at the University of Leicester on 23 September 2014. Register for the briefing/launch event.



Innovate UK's space programme aims to support innovation in space-based satellite systems and in applications using satellite data. The UK has a world class academic research base in the space sector. The Space IGS report – Space Growth Action Plan 2014-2030 – called for better engagement and exploitation of this resource to support growth of the sector in the UK. The report can be downloaded here www.ukspace.org/spacepublications/.
One of the challenges for the sector is to achieve more effective transfer of knowledge from the research base to support innovation by businesses. While Innovate UK, the UK Space AgencySTFC, NERC and others have established a focal point for the industry at the UK Space Gateway, Harwell, in Oxfordshire, the research base is spread more widely across the country. 


We are looking to support 10 to 12 high-quality KTPs that will help businesses in the space technology sector and downstream space economy to exploit UK and global markets.
Where businesses are developing ‘upstream' projects in satellite and satellite instrument manufacture, these should generally be aligned with the National Space Technology Strategy.
‘Downstream' projects, including applications, must identify a specific need linked to a defined market/endproduct, or must clearly bridge the gap between upstream development and
downstream use. 
We will also support projects – upstream or downstream – that draw on expertise outside the space sector, such as in the technology of the target market or technology transfer from other domains.

Funding allocation and project details

We have allocated up to £1.3m to fund projects that address the challenges outlined in the scope. STFC will also consider co-funding KTPs on an individual basis. We will fund part of the cost of running each KTP, with the level of grant depending on the size of the company.

KTP is open to all UK companies and the UK-wide research base. As an example, a small or medium-sized enterprise might contribute around a third of the project costs, with the remainder being paid as grant. Larger companies generally receive a lower level of funding.

Annual project costs will vary, depending on the type and duration of project, but the average is currently around £60k. Projects will last between six and 36 months. The grant is paid through the academic partner.

Your local KTP adviser will be able to provide more details on funding levels.

Aside from the direct benefits to the three partners from involvement in a KTP we support knowledge sharing between KTPs. For example, we stage events that bring the KTPs together, providing information-sharing through our _connect networking platform, and introducing KTPs to partners in other types of funded innovation projects.

There will also be a bursary fund for a number of KTP associates from the cohort to attend the International Space University (ISU) summer school and we will encourage engagement with UK Students for Exploration and Development of Space.


Application process

If you are interested in applying you should first discuss project ideas with a university KTP office or contact one of our regional KTP advisers directly through the KTP website at www.ktponline.org.uk/advisers.
KTP advisers provide advice on eligibility and timescales, and work with potential partners to develop joint proposals. University KTP offices may also be able to provide preliminary advice on possible proposal ideas.
The application process involves:
Stage 1: Expression of interest (EoI)
Stage 2: Approved EoIs are invited to submit a grant application and proposal form.
Stage 3: KTP Partnership Approvals Group (PAG) establishes a proposal's suitability as a KTP project*
Stage 4: Innovate UK assesses whether the application fulfils the scope of thiscompetition (with involvement from co-funders, as appropriate).
Both the EoI and the application must be agreed by a KTP adviser before being submitted to a PAG by the academic partner.
* If your proposal is not within the scope of this competition or is not selected as part of this cohort, you may still be eligible for a KTP grant. There is a general scheme open for applications year-round and supporting projects in many fields.
Contact your local KTP adviser for more information.

Key dates

  • Open for applications 15 September 2014
  • Briefing/launch event, Leicester 23 September 2014

Deadline for applications to be considered at next available Partnership Approvals Group meeting 

  • 1 October 2014 noon
  • 19 November 2014 noon
  • 11 February 2015 noon

More information

For more information about your eligibility for KTP or the suitability of projects for this competition please contact your KTP regional adviser or local university KTP office.


As part of the application process all applicants are asked to submit a public description of the project. This should adequately describe the project but not disclose any information that may impact on intellectual property, is confidential or commercially sensitive.
The titles of successful projects, names of organisations, amounts awarded and the public description will be published once the decision to offer an award has been communicated to applicants by email.
Information about unsuccessful project applications will remain confidential and will not be made public.