UK Space Agency offers $62 million for innovative connectivity projects

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TAMPA, Fla. — The U.K. announced 50 million British pounds ($62 million) in funding Jan. 23 for projects that could boost the country’s satellite communications industry.

The UK Space Agency said the funding pot is open to a wide range of projects, including new satellite constellations and the ground systems that support them.

The deadline for expressions of interest is March 1. Following a presentation process to pitch ideas, the UK Space Agency expects to announce winning projects sometime this summer.

“This funding will help UK companies that have the right expertise and ambition to become global players in this market,” UK Space Agency CEO Paul Bate said in a statement, “and lead on ground-breaking technologies that will enhance the wider UK space sector, create jobs and generate further investment.

The funding is part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Advanced Research in Telecommunications Services program, or ARTES.

In November, the British government committed 190 million British pounds to participate in international telecommunications missions under ESA, which is independent of the European Union that the U.K. is no longer part of following Brexit.

The U.K. committed a total 1.8 billion British pounds to participate in ESA programs over the next five years.

British Science Minister George Freeman said investing in space programs will help drive growth and improve the resiliency of the U.K.’s economy post-Brexit.

While the U.K. has only earmarked 50 million British pounds for satellite communications, the space agency said further funding is available if viable proposals exceed supply.