Student entrepreneur wins in national space challenge competition

Posted by pt91 at Apr 20, 2017 10:30 AM |
Razzia Gafur’s project uses space data for the gaming market and virtual reality

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 20 April 2017

We think Razzia is a worthy winner and has real potential as a space entrepreneur of the future

-UK Space Agency

Download a photograph of Razzia Gafur: https://www.dropbox.com/s/s8u0z3i1my28hb2/10400787_978703395510349_2825741677566874577_n.jpg?dl=0

A University of Leicester student is among only nine young space entrepreneurs to have won a share of £50K for innovative ideas on how to use satellite data to improve life on Earth.

Razzia Gafur, aged 21, who is a third-year Physics and Astronomy student at the University of Leicester won a prize of £5K in the UK Space Agency’s SatelLife Challenge.

Her project, Imaging in Space (IISpace), hopes to launch cheap cubesats to deliver a suite of information to make satellite data very cost effective and with a very quick turn-around of information, meeting customer needs directly. The project is particularly interested in getting into the gaming market, and using satellite data to support virtual reality activities.

The aim of the competition is to come up with ideas on how to use satellite data to improve life on Earth. The Challenge sought to link satellite and space data and its application to everyday life.

Razzia said: “I almost didn’t enter the competition because I really didn’t think I would win, but thankfully my tutor encouraged me to do so a few days ahead of deadline. When I found out I went through a whirlwind of emotions; initially shocked, then ecstatic and ultimately very excited to be part of a new innovative scheme promoting science to our generation.”

Dr Graham Wynn, of the Department of Physics & Astronomy, said: “The staff and students of the Department of Physics and Astronomy are thrilled for Razzia after her success in the SatelLife Challenge. Her winning entry not only showcases Razzia’s talents and ingenuity, but also her drive and passion for space science. It is exactly this kind of enterprising spirit that we strive to encourage through initiatives such as the Space Park. We are all very proud of Razzia and her well-deserved success.”

The competition, which aims to support the development of science, data handling and technological skills, was split into three age groups, offering five prizes of £5,000 for each age category with an overall winner receiving £10,000. The judging panel was made up of experts including representatives from the UK Space Agency, the European Space Agency, the Satellite Applications Catapult in Harwell and industry.

The winners from each category had to pitch their idea to a panel of ‘dragons’ from the space sector who also offered prizes, which could include mentoring, work experience and even the development of the idea into reality.

Emily Gravestock, Head of Applications Strategy at the UK Space Agency, said: “We were really impressed by the number of innovative ideas submitted to the SatelLife Challenge and Razzia is certainly a worthy winner. The judges thought her idea identified many opportunities to solve real world issues with people at the heart of it. We think she has real potential as a space entrepreneur of the future.”

Speaking of her time studying at Leicester, Razzia added: “I’m from Newcastle upon Tyne and moved 200 miles down the country to pursue a degree in Physics with Astrophysics. I chose to study at the University of Leicester because of the warmth and community feel of the Physics department - the support and encouragement the staff give their students is second to none.

“My time here has been so amazing, I’ve even signed up to do a Master’s next year and although I’ll be very proud to graduate, I’ll also be very sad to leave.”

The best entries will also be invited to present their idea at the UK Space Conference – the most influential event for space in the UK – held in Manchester from 30 May to 1 June, 2017.

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Note to newsdesk: To interview Razzia, please email razzia@live.co.uk

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