Skip to main content

Challenge Led Sandpit

This particular funding opportunity is no longer available.

Full applications for attendance are due for submission by Noon on Tuesday 3rd May 2022 (was originally Monday 25th April 2022) 

The national SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) business support programme has been awarded additional funding from the UK Space Agency to extend its reach to all UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). This funding from UKSA, alongside SPRINT Research England funding, will be used to deliver a range of activities and funding for projects.

SPRINT is holding a 2 day residential Challenge Led Sandpit to be held in Cardiff on the Tuesday 10th and Wednesday 11th May 2022.

This Sandpit will provide the opportunity for UK SMEs, UK researchers and key stakeholders to come together to develop some project ideas around the following challenges posed by UK space primes:

Industrial Challenge 1: Sustainability in Space : Making Satellite Development and Operation Green

The satellite and launch industry is growing rapidly and the sector is keen to create an environmental strategy that drives change and minimises environmental impact. How can we make the development, manufacture, test, operation and disposal of satellites more sustainable

Industrial Challenge 2: Sustainability in Space:  Re-using space objects in orbit

There is a risk of polluting the ozone layer with aluminium oxide due to the increased number of objects being deorbited and burnt up.
How can we re-purpose satellites and create factories in orbit to recycle the materials?

For additional information on Industrial Challenge 2, please click: Sustainability in Space: Re-using space objects in orbit

Industrial Challenge 3: Self-learning SLAM for resource-constrained environments

Simultaneous  Localization  And  Mapping is essentially complex algorithms that map an unknown environment.   Using SLAM software, a device can simultaneously localise (locate itself in the map) and map (create a virtual map of the location) using SLAM algorithms.
What self-learning SLAM solutions could be developed to support space exploration, Martian and Moon rovers and in-orbit servicing or manufacturing?

For additional information on Industrial Challenge 3, please click: Self learning SLAM_Additional Information

Industrial Challenge 4: Space Data for Subsea

Space data can provide a wide range of information that can be used for both civil and defence applications to better understand and operate in the underworld.

Could we use space data to develop applications to improve shallow water seabed classification, seabed bathymetry, large target detection and tracking, pattern of life, anomalous behaviours, automated change detection? Could the data be used for intelligence gathering, harbour surveillance or for autonomous operations e.g. pre planning or communications over the horizon for assets? Is now the time to harness this ocean of data and use AI to automate the processing?

A pre-residential online workshop is being held on Wednesday 4th May 2022 (13.00-16.30).  Attendees must be available to attend both this event and the 2 day residential.

An optional pre-event dinner will be held on Monday 9th May 2022 in Cardiff.

What is a Sandpit?

Sandpits bring together researchers and companies to discuss a specific topic or problem. They are intensive forums where free thinking is encouraged to delve into the problems on the agenda to uncover innovative solutions.

To preserve group dynamics and enable the process of continual evaluation to happen across the sandpit, participants stay for the whole of the event.

During the course of the event, Sandpit participants will develop ideas for collaborative projects in response to these challenges, and pitch their proposals to a panel.

The winning projects for each theme are decided and will receive funding to deliver their projects. A maximum of £7k will be allocated per project. Funding available £TBC.

These short projects will need to deliver commercial applications of research which could include: a market assessment, commercialisation plan for a proposed technology, or the acceleration of route to market of existing intellectual property brought by SMEs or UK HEIs.

Update 16/03/2022: Additional funds have now been allocated to increase the impact of this event.  A maximum of £10k will now be allocated per project from a total budget of £40k.

Full applications for attendance are due for submission by Noon on Tuesday 3rd May 2022 (was originally Monday 25th April 2022) 


Attendees will be

  • From any UK-registered SME with active R&D activities based in the UK. SPRINT has been designed to support growth in SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises). We use the Companies House definition for determining company size and you must be a micro-entity, small company or medium-sized company to be eligible.
  • From any UK HEI
  • From any UK research and technology organisations e.g. Catapults, national facilities holders, research institutes

Any questions you may have on your eligibility to attend should be directed to [email protected].

Accommodation & Subsistence

Accommodation for all attendees will be provided by SPRINT at a designated venue. All food and drink will be provided on 10th and 11th May free of charge. The optional dinner on the 9th May will also be provided free of charge. Please ensure you notify us of any special requirements you may have.


All travel costs will be retrospectively reimbursed for all attendees upon receipt of evidence, following attendance at the event.  Forms will be provided to those who have attended.

Note: In the event that we receive multiple applicants from one organisation, we may be required to prioritise one application over others in order to allocate funding for accommodation, subsistence and travel..

Application Documents

The following documents form the application pack:

*Should an award be made, the applicants will be required to enter into a Project Collaboration Agreement with the University of Leicester (who will contractually administer this competition on behalf of SPRINT). This will be one of the two collaboration templates above, which are the same apart from the origin of the funds allocated. Devolved Nations HEIs will be awarded funds using the UKSA template.

  • A copy of the Project Collaboration Agreement is included for reference in the application pack
  • The terms and conditions of the Project Collaboration Agreement are not subject to negotiation (apart from Clause relating to Intellectual Property)
  • In submitting an application, applicants agree that they are accepting the terms and conditions of the Project Collaboration Agreement on behalf of their organisation. Please ensure that authorisation is obtained from your organisation. This will facilitate smooth delivery of the Award.

Here are the main dates:

Tuesday 8th March 2022: Call opens

Noon on Tuesday 3rd May 2022 (was originally Monday 25th April): Deadline for submission of applications

Friday 29th April 2022: Notification of successful application

Wednesday 4th May 2022 13:00-16:30: Online Briefing Event

Tuesday 10th and Wednesday 11th May: 2 Day Residential Challenge-Led  Sandpit

Thursday 12th May 2022: Successful projects will be announced via email

Friday 29th July 2022: Project completion forms are to be submitted

All queries can be emailed to [email protected]

Keep up to date with the latest SPRINT news and events with our monthly newsletter


Let us know how we can help you.

Contact Us