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Senior space industry professionals to join SPRINT steering board

NEWS: Representatives from Airbus Defence and Space and Inmarsat join SPRINT board to oversee delivery of business support programme

Matthew Stuttard from Airbus Defence and Space and Yasrine Ibnyahya from Inmarsat appointed as new board members for UK-wide SPRINT business support programme

SPRINT, the national business support programme for SMEs to engage with top UK space universities, has appointed two senior space sector professionals to its Steering Board. The existing SPRINT Board members will be joined by Matthew Stuttard, Airbus Defence and Space, Head of Space Technical Strategy and R&D, UK and Yasrine Ibnyahya, Director, Advanced Concepts and Technologies at Inmarsat.

The £4.8 million SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) programme provides unprecedented access to university space expertise and facilities. SPRINT helps businesses through the commercial exploitation of space data and technologies.

Matthew Stuttard is currently head of Space Technical Strategy and R&D for the UK at Airbus Defence and Space, based in Portsmouth. Previously, he was the UK Advanced Concepts Architect, most recently developing a Vast Antenna (VASANT) concept for future high capacity satellite communications.

From 2006 to 2013, Matthew was head of Future Programmes in Science and Planetary Exploration in Stevenage, focusing on feasibility phases of missions such as Solar Orbiter, JUICE, Euclid and Mars Sample Return. Before Airbus, Matthew worked for several companies including two SMEs and CGI on Earth Observation (EO) applications and geospatial information systems. Matthew started in EO as a lecturer in Applied Remote Sensing at Cranfield University.

Commenting on his new position, Matthew Stuttard said: “I was keen to join the SPRINT Board to help create new opportunities between smaller space companies and the larger space systems integrators in the UK. I also see benefits in promoting expansion of the SPRINT network to include a wider range of ‘space active’ universities in the UK.”


Yasrine Ibnyahya is responsible for creating and leading technology innovation since joining Inmarsat in 2011. Today, Yasrine is responsible for leading breakthrough innovations and early stage mission concepts. She has become the bridge between external trends and Inmarsat’s strategic technology roadmap. She also leads Inmarsat’s start-up and entrepreneurship engagement initiatives.

Across various technology programmes, she also led the creation, fundraising and delivery of several public/private partnerships with the European Space Agency, bringing Europe to the main stage in the quest for space innovation. She also managed the development of the company’s next generation Aviation Safety infrastructures and Maritime Safety and Distress Services infrastructures. Before Inmarsat, Yasrine worked for satellite manufacturer SSTL in the UK – an Airbus company – and a subsidiary of the French National Space Centre (CLS) in their Washington DC office in the US.

Yasrine Ibnyahya commented: “Space innovation and enabling new business ideas, start-ups and opportunities is at the heart of what I enjoy doing. SPRINT is a unique and ideal catalyst combining leading space-focused universities, the SMEs ecosystem, corporations and the investment community.

“I look forward to contributing to the SPRINT board, representing the UK corporate community and enabling the growth and commercial exploration of cutting-edge innovation.”

Ross Burgon, Head of the national SPRINT programme added: “We’re delighted that Matthew and Yasrine are joining our outstanding senior team of space sector professionals. They both bring significant experience of the UK space sector and on the Board will represent the views of non-SME corporates. Their appointments will help to ensure that all key stakeholder groups are represented on the SPRINT Steering Board and contribute to our vision of supporting a healthy and thriving UK space innovation ecosystem.”

The SPRINT Steering Board has oversight of the overall performance and delivery of the SPRINT programme, providing strategic leadership and direction to SPRINT management. The Board is made up of senior representatives from the SPRINT partner universities and individuals from various space industry, government, and investment backgrounds. This helps to ensure that SPRINT can evolve to address the needs of the space innovation ecosystem by taking into account the views of key stakeholder groups.

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