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The UK Space Agency in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) has issued an open call for proposal for the development of space-based solutions to support the NHS deal with coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic crisis.

Technologies and services could make use of satellite communications, satellite navigation, Earth observation satellites or technology derived from human spaceflight.

UK Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “The UK space sector is a world leader in applying satellite and data technology to challenges we face on Earth, from responding to natural disasters to managing outbreaks of infectious disease.

“We are all in this together and this new funding will help develop practical solutions from one of our most innovative industrial sectors to support our brilliant NHS.”

Around £2.6m in new funding has been launched for the initiative. In addition, a participating company is allowed to submit only one solution.

Specifically, the new initiative is looking for solutions within the health delivery system, such as drone deliveries, managing infectious disease outbreaks, population health and wellbeing and more.

ESA European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications Downstream Business Applications head Nick Appleyard 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 providers 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 once-in-a-century event.”

Industry and universities have already been invited to help develop technology and equipment ranging from hand sanitiser to ventilators.

Earlier this month, ESA, in partnership with the Italian Minister for Technological Innovation and Digitalisation and the support of the Italian Space Agency and other countries, launched ‘Space in response to Covid-19 outbreak’ funding.