Space industry symposium held by University of Leeds’ Earth Observation CDT

On the 20th April 2021, SENSE held its first industry symposium. SENSE is a ‘Centre for Doctoral Training’, a PhD programme which is topic specific and provides bespoke training – SENSE’s focus is on Earth Observation and advanced data techniques such as machine learning.

Events like this are a fantastic opportunity for businesses in the Yorkshire region and academics across Yorkshire universities to meet, discuss the latest techniques in Earth Observation, how space fits into industrial strategy, network and form collaborations.

A highlight of the day was the roundtable discussion on space skills in the UK. This was chaired by Anna Hogg (Assisstant Professor at the University of Leeds, and SENSE co-director), and the participants were Tom Doyle (NERC, digital environments senior programme manager), Dan Wicks (Head of Earth Observation at Satellite Applications Catapult), Kathie Bowden (UKSA lead on space skills and careers) and Ian Downey (ESA Space Solutions Business Applications UK Ambassador Platform).

Discussing bridging the gap between academia and industry, Dan acknowledged that it can be really difficult for a businesses to access expertise that sits in academia. Kathie felt that development of networks is key, and that events like SENSE’s industry symposium will become more and more important, and taking advantage of virtual events. SHY will play a leading role in helping foster collaborations through programmes such as SENSE and others across Yorkshire universities, so that businesses can collaborate with academics, and students can be embedded within businesses to foster a more flexible, collaborative approach.

Ian often finds companies can have a 10 year old perspective on what space can offer, so he encourages collaborations for aspiring companies to engage in this sector, as a low risk way to access the most current knowledge and expertise. SHY will help businesses access this expertise in academia.

Dan pointed out that the market is evolving rapidly and how essential it is to take the traditional knowledge of Earth Observation and put it in the context of the latest market status, to ensure the next generation of Earth Observation scientists are ready to play into this market – or even create the roles, Anna added.

Ian noted that there are many companies from outside the traditional space domains, for example software systems and AI modelling, that are core to the space sector. A key goal of SHY is to engage with businesses like these in the Yorkshire region, so that these skills and expertise are applied to the space sector and these businesses are fully exploiting their expertise.

You can read more about the day on SENSE’s news article.