Launching business and industry into the space age

Posted by pt91 at Sep 19, 2011 05:15 PM |
University of Leicester announces new £2 million initiative: the Space IDEAS Hub

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 19 September 2011

Space technologies and the ways that they can be applied to drive forward the country’s industry and infrastructure will be one of the topics under discussion at the University of Leicester’s symposium to celebrate 50 years of space research at Leicester, and to look ahead to the next half century.

The symposium, ‘Observing the Earth and Planets: The Next 50 Years of Space Research’ will take place on 19-21 September and will consider the next steps in Space research over the coming decades, including their impact upon the economy and society.

The symposium will also introduce a new initiative based at the University, the Space IDEAS Hub, a three-year £2million project part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The Space IDEAS Hub will promote knowledge transfer related to space technologies developed at the University and SMEs within the East Midlands, offering them direct access to the expertise and facilities at the University’s Space Research Centre.

The Space IDEAS Hub will demonstrate how the latest advances in space science, technology and engineering can provide practical benefits in industry, and act as a driver for innovation within the region’s businesses.

The University of Leicester is already highly regarded for knowledge transfer between its internationally renowned space research activities and industrial sectors including food and drink, security, environment and healthcare.

Tim Maskell, Knowledge Transfer Manager at the University’s Space Research Centre, commented “We have an international reputation for our work in developing and researching state-of-the-art sensors for space missions.”

“I think the interesting thing about our work is that we’re developing leading-edge technologies for use in extremely harsh environments. The systems deployed on a space mission have to operate in harsh physical conditions. There is a demand for reliability, long duration survival in space, and yet also to be extremely lightweight and sensitive. The process of successfully meeting such challenges in space leads to interesting technical solutions to Earth-bound business problems.”

Among a list of successful knowledge transfer projects emanating from the Leicester Space Research Centre are:

  • Medical Diagnosis - The use of imaging systems and technologies developed to explore the universe, for the early detection of signs of disease states. It forms part of a new hi-tech £1million-plus non-invasive disease detection facility, unveiled on 1 September this year at the Leicester Royal Infirmary Accident and Emergency Department. The facility is designed to detect the ‘sight, smell and feel’ of disease without the need for invasive probing.
  • Mini Gamma-Ray Camera – A new generation of gamma ray cameras has been developed by Gamma Technologies Ltd., which works closely with the Space Research Centre at the University of Leicester. Gamma imagers are used to view tumours and lymph nodes in patients. The Mini Gamma-Ray Camera can image different areas of the body, and will minimise invasive surgery in certain circumstances. It is currently undergoing evaluation in the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham.
  • Counterfeit Detection – Experts at the Leicester Space Research Centre are developing a handheld device to detect fake whisky and wine through the bottle, in a project supported by The Food and Drink iNet. The device uses a method developed at the University to detect counterfeit medicines by scrutinising the packaging. It relies upon detecting differences between the characteristics of light reflected from printed packaging and was developed from a spectrometer designed and built at the Space Research Centre for astronomical research. The Food and Drink iNet was funded by East Midlands Development Agency (emda) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Notes to Editors:

Space Research Centre, Director:

Prof. George Fraser, Space Research Centre, University of Leicester, tel 0116 252 3542, email

Knowledge Transfer at the Space Research Centre, University of Leicester

Tim Maskell, Space Research Centre, tel 0116 223 1372, email

Space IDEAS Hub Project Manager

Dr. Ed Chester, Space Research Centre, tel 0116 229 7700, email

Observing The Earth and Planets: The Next 50 Years Symposium

Brian Bassett, Space Research Centre, email


Medical Diagnosis

Project leaders:

Prof. Mark Sims, Space Research Centre, University of Leicester

Contact via University of Leicester Press Office, tel 0116 252 3335, email


Dr. Tim Coates, Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University and Head of Accident and Emergency at the Leicester Royal Infirmary.

Contact via Laura Dennis, Communications Manager, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, tel 0116 258 8644, email

Relevant Press Release:

Mini Gamma-Ray Camera

Project Leader

Dr. John Lees, Bioimaging Unit, Space Research Centre, University of Leicester, tel 0116 252 5519, email

Gamma Technologies Ltd (spin-out):

Press Release:

Counterfeit Detection

Project Manager

Prof. George Fraser, Space Research Centre, University of Leicester, tel 0116 252 3542, email

Press Release:

About ERDF nationally

The ERDF Programme aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the European Union by supporting regional economic development.

The ERDF objectives for England are:

  • Promoting innovation and knowledge transfer

  • Stimulating  enterprise and supporting successful business

  • Ensuring sustainable development, production and consumption

  • Building sustainable communities

  • Improving accessibility and connectivity (for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly only – as part of their Convergence Programme).

A Programme Monitoring Committee consisting of regional stakeholders such as Government Offices, RDAs, Regional Assemblies, Local Authorities, Sub-regional Partnerships, Higher Education Institutions, Trade Unions, and the private and voluntary sectors will monitor and oversee programme implementation in each region.

For more information on ERDF funding generally, please visit or

About ERDF in the East Midlands

The East Midlands is eligible for €268.5m (approximately £210m at current exchange rates) between 2007 and 2013, which when combined with match funding, provides a programme value of approximately £420m – a significant investment in the economic development of the region.

The East Midlands qualifies as a competitiveness and employment region under the EU’s Cohesion Policy, which aims to meet the EU Lisbon objective to become ‘the most competitive and dynamic knowledge based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social inclusion.’

East Midlands Development Agency (emda) is responsible for the programme management and delivery of the region’s 2007-13 ERDF Competitiveness Programme.  The responsibility for ERDF programme management was transferred from the Government Office for the East Midlands (GOEM) to emda following a decision by the UK Government to seek greater alignment between ERDF and regional strategies and funding streams.  The 2007-13 ERDF Programme is therefore set firmly within the framework of the Regional Economic Strategy.

A Programme Monitoring Committee, chaired by the Regional Director of Government Office for the East Midlands (GOEM), guides the strategic direction of the programme and works closely with emda.

To find out more about ERDF, the region’s strategy for delivering the funds, how to apply for funding and how the programme is managed, please visit

Space Ideas HubEDRF

Share this page:

Older press releases

For press releases issued before 4 October 2010, please visit the old eBulletin site.

Get in touch

T: +44 (0)116 252 2160

The Press Office is open 9.00am-5.00pm, Monday to Friday.

For general enquiries about the University, contact the main switchboard on +44 (0)116 252 2522.