The Kenya Space Agency (KSA) has announced the winner of the Kenya Space Agency research grant for the FY 2021/2022. This award stems from the research chair programme. KSA set aside Ksh 10 million (USD 89,245) for the award of Research Chairs (RC) for FY 2021/2022. The RCs were for 3U Nanosatellite Model Development, Land Cover Data Collection Application Development and Small-scale Crop Mapping Application using Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML). The purpose of these Research Chairs was to catalyse and promote research in Space Science and Technology in Kenyan universities.
Development of 3U Nanosatellite Model
Pursuant to the foregoing, The KSA intended to offer support to universities as well as the private sector to consider the potential of investing in this sector. Thus, KSA pledged to offer a Research Grant to develop a 3U Nanosatellite Model, which is worth Ksh 3 million(USD 26,773) for the FY 2020/2021 from the best four teams of the RC FY 2020/2021 edition.
The KSA has subsequently selected the winners for the RC after presentations from the universities. The University of Nairobi emerged as the winner of the FY 2020/2021. In addition, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology emerged as the first runner-up. There was also a tie for the second runners-up between Kenyatta University and the Technical University of Kenya.
Small-Scale Crop Mapping using Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning
The KSA also awarded a Research Grant to explore the potential of AI/ML in mapping crops under small scale farms. The proposed Research Grant award on the Small-Scale Crop Mapping using AI/ML is Ksh 2.5 million (USD 22,292) and with five beneficiary Universities each to receive Ksh 500,000 (USD 4,458). The FIVE beneficiary Universities are;
- Taita Taveta University
- Dedan Kimathi University of Technology
- University of Nairobi (Best performance)
- Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT)
- Egerton University.
Land Cover Data Collection Mobile Application
The KSA also launched a Research Grant for the development of a Land Cover Data Collection Mobile App, available on both Android and iPhone devices. It will provide an elaborate platform hosting customisable questionnaires to record observations in the field. Furthermore, it will also offer the functionality to store the observation in the device and remotely in a database.
The proposed RG award on Land Cover Data Collection Mobile Application will be worth Ksh 1.5 million (USD 13,375) and with three beneficiaries from Start-up companies (in the Private Sector) with less than 2 years in operation. The best three start-up companies will each receive a Research Grant of Ksh 500,000 (USD 4,458). Each Start-up Company will develop a Land Cover Data Collection Mobile app, accessible on both Android and iPhone mobile devices.
Speaking at the occasion, Dr Ibrahim Mohamed, CBS, noted that “KSA is making great strides towards space research & development. There is a need to support the knowledge of universities through space grants. Research is a vital endeavour in space development”.