The UK Space Biomedicine Consortium (UKSBC) consists of 33 establishments from the fields of academia and industry which directly or indirectly work in domains related to human health in space. UKSBC aims to identify, support, and promote areas of synergy between space and terrestrial healthcare and conduct translational R&D in support of UK interests.
The UKSBC is developing a UK National Space Biomedicine Strategy which aims to benefit terrestrial healthcare; enhance UK innovation and economic growth; prepare the UK to effectively participate in future human flight activities; benefit / serve the interests of UKSBC members; and contribute to and benefit from international collaborations.
The key strategic R&D Themes will be
- Independent Living – Ageing, Lifestyle, & Nutrition
- Telemedicine / e-Health / Biotechnology
- Morbidity in relation to space travel
- Human Factors and Performance
Activities are now underway on Phase 2 of the development plan and UKSBC needed to identify and adopt an appropriate format and organisational framework to enable it to effectively pursue its goals. The Consortium commissioned Qi3 to review the current nature, aims, and objectives of the UKSBC, consider changes in the space landscape expected in the short and medium term, and identify various models of academic / industrial collaboration that might be appropriate.
The project reviewed both the space and healthcare sectors, and while human spaceflight is not a priority for either, it became clear that both sectors have biomedical challenges that are closely aligned, especially in the loss of human physiological condition caused by weightlessness, bed rest, and / or the aging process. The UK space biomedicine community is well positioned to address these issues, especially as it has a strong international standing and is very motivated. The key to success for the Consortium is to invert the value proposition of space biomedicine and present it as an enabling technology that is uniquely positioned to contribute to the healthcare research on these major challenges in modern society, with spin-off benefits in supporting ISS missions, and enabling the vision of manned flight to Mars when economic conditions permit.
Qi3 recommended several organisational and collaboration models for the consortium to consider and will continue to provide advice during its development.
“Given Qi3’s background, experience and recent space related contracts it was clear that this was a company with the acumen and ability to examine our ‘unusual case’ and provide advice concerning the organisation structure that the UK Space Biomedicine Consortium could adopt to optimise its ability to achieve its aims and objectives. We can see ourselves returning to Qi3 for further services as the consortium develops.