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UKSA needs freedom from Innovate UK, says review

The UK Space Agency would benefit from taking a greater lead in project management rather than deferring to Innovate UK, a panel has concluded after reviewing one of the agency’s larger funding streams.

UKSA’s National Space Technology Programme allocated £10 million to 32 projects in 2012, most of which have now been completed. The panel, chaired by David Southwood, a UKSA steering board member, set up to review the programme concluded that difficulties arising from the agency’s relationship with Innovate UK, formerly the Technology Strategy Board, should be addressed.

In particular, a lack of clarity in the memorandum of understanding between the two organisations was cited as a cause of friction. However, the panel also suggested that tension may be inherent in the differing aims of the bodies: “By collaborating with Innovate UK, the UK Space Agency had to make compromises. Innovate UK has been set up to support industry in undertaking research that will ultimately result in commercial products. UKSA has a different remit and may support technological development for science or society applications that provide an environment for growth.”

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