THE UK Space Agency in Swindon is helping to fund a drone delivery scheme which drops off Covid-19 testing kits and medical supplies.

Skyports, the company behind the drones, started a two-week trial in May with NHS Highland, delivering to a group of islands off the coast of Scotland. 

The new project was able to cut delivery times by 15 minutes between Oban and the Isle of Mull which would usually be a 45 minute ferry journey. 

And the UK Space Agency and European Space Agency put in £2.6 million to find and support space-enabled technologies and services that can support the NHS response to coronavirus.

Skyports and two other initiatives have been given £1.1 million in funding. 

The rest is open to bids until the end of September. 

Science minister Amanda Solloway said: “I’m proud of how our world-leading space sector is stepping up to provide innovative solutions to directly support our amazing NHS, as we continue our national effort to tackling coronavirus.”

“The projects we are backing today show UK ingenuity at its finest, and will make a real difference to how we use this latest innovative technology to deliver critical healthcare now and long into the future.”

Professor Tony Young, the NHS national clinical lead for innovation, added: “The NHS Long Term Plan is bringing new technologies into the NHS to improve patient care and save lives, and as we deal with the greatest challenge in the NHS’s history, innovation in medicine and convenient, faster technology are helping frontline staff to give people world-leading treatment for Covid-19 alongside care for killer conditions including cancer.”