Plymouth Science Park-based Earth Observation specialists, Pixalytics Ltd, will receive a share of new International Partnership Programme (IPP) funding, to lead a  project in Kenya.

The UK Space Agency has announced £3.4 million of funding for 10 leading-edge projects that back UK organisations using space to support global sustainable development.

The Earth Observation for Sustainable Aggregate Supply project, being led by Pixalytics, aims to blend Earth observation data with local stakeholder input to explore the sustainable supply of the finite sand and aggregate resources in Kenya.

Growing demand for construction – buildings and infrastructure, creating land through reclamation, and coastal protection from climate change has resulted in supply pressures on traditional sources.  Unmanaged extraction is an emerging and locally significant problem around the world. The issue has been highlighted by the United Nations and has the potential to cause wide-ranging social, economic and environmental impacts. These impacts can include pollution, land erosion, changing water flows, reduction of biodiversity, damage to infrastructure, degradation of habits and impacts on vulnerable communities.

Pixalytics are working with the Government of Kenya alongside UK partners Satellite Applications Catapult, Chatham House and University of Plymouth, and Kenya partners NIRAS Africa Ltd and Nairobi Design Institute.

In addition, the project is being supported by the British Geological Survey. The team will use the latest Earth observation and machine-learning technology, together with in-country on-the-ground stakeholder knowledge and experience, to identify sand resources and deliver an understanding of what is happening with them.

The findings will provide the Kenyan Government’s Ministry of Mining and local communities with ideas on how to improve the monitoring and regulation of sand mining, supporting sustainability in the aggregate supply chain including the locations, scale, extraction rates and the environmental impacts of these activities.

The IPP projects are grant-funded by the UK Space Agency from the UK Government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), and will apply UK expertise to tackling developmental problems across the globe.

Liz Cox, IPP’s Head of International Relations at the UK Space Agency, said: “The compelling results of previous IPP projects cement the case for investment in space for sustainable development. IPP is not only demonstrating the value of satellite solutions and improving the lives of people on the ground in developing countries, but also facilitating effective alliances between the United Kingdom and international organisations. It’s a ‘win-win’ and an exciting moment in the Programme.”

Director of Pixalytics Ltd Andrew Lavender said: “We are delighted to be using our Earth observation technology and expertise to develop solutions to global challenges, and we’re looking forward to working with our partners in the UK and Kenya on this important project which will help support sustainable development.”

Business Development Manager at Plymouth Science Park, Fay Davies, said: “It is fantastic news that the work Pixalytics Ltd conduct from their base at Plymouth Science Park will have a global impact. Like many of our Science Park tenants, Pixalytics Ltd have research, innovation, science and education at their heart and we are delighted that they have been successful in achieving this opportunity. We will follow this project with great interest!”

Discover more about Pixalytics and the work they and doing across the world here: www.pixalytics.com

Discover more about Plymouth Science Park and their other high-tech tenants here: www.plymouthsciencepark.com