Through the UK Space Agency, Government is giving a cash injection to five projects specifically designed to bring together UK business expertise with universities to help build space solutions to global problems, on UK soil.

The University of Leicester is to receive research funding to support XCAM for one of the projects, to improve the performance of cleanliness-monitoring equipment for use in the space industry. This is important because equipment, which is designed to be launched into space, needs to be super-clean. If it is not clean, then contamination can move to other delicate instruments like telescope optical surfaces, dulling them, or in the case of planetary missions, can contaminate pristine environments.

“We are delighted to be supported by the national Space Research and Innovation Network for Technology (SPRINT) and working with the University of Leicester Convolutional Neural Network experts,” explained Karen Holland, CEO of XCAM Ltd, “The University of Leicester scientists will be seeing if they can apply their expertise in novel machine learning solutions, to improve the accuracy of our cleanroom monitoring instrumentation.”

This project could form the basis of a next-generation instrument which should make cleanroom contamination monitoring even more precise, and enable the development of instruments that can operate in space for much longer than just the initial launch phases. At the same time, XCAM’s skills in neural network development will be enhanced.

The other four projects receiving a cash injection include: Using AI to automatically detect archaeology on Earth and provide data for planning permissions; Developing an Absolar carbon Action Planning Tool to monitor building’s current energy performance; Developing analytics to track the carbon and pollution emissions of ships; Developing a land-use classification map of key agricultural production in Malawi.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “The UK’s space sector is flourishing, and it is vital we give our most innovative space businesses and universities the right support to collaborate, share best practice and drive forward new ideas that could help enrich all our lives. 


“Today’s funding will provide lift-off to some of the country’s most ambitious space collaborations, accelerating potentially game-changing technologies that will help the UK respond to global challenges such as cutting carbon emissions.”