Irishwoman named as one of Europe’s top female innovators

Skytek co-founder Dr Sarah Bourke is one of three winners of highly-regarded EU Prize

An Irishwoman has been named one of Europe's top female innovators for the work achieved by her company, the Dublin-based space technology firm, Skytek.

Dr Sarah Bourke, who co-founded Skytek in 1999, was announced as one of the three winners of the EU Prize for Women Innovators as a ceremony in Brussels on Thursday.

The award is the largest prize of its kind worldwide, and aims to raise awareness of the need for more innovation and more female entrepreneurs.

Dr Bourke, who is the first Irishwoman to win the award, was up against 64 other candidates. She claimed third prize overall and received a cheque for €30,000.


The other winners who received prizes of €100,000 and €50,000 respectively were Dr Susana Sargento from Portugal and Prof Sirpa Jalkanen from Finland.

Skytek is one of Ireland's leading space technology companies. The firm's International Procedure Viewer (iPV) system, which is used to store, control and manage all procedures relating to routine daily tasks and mission-critical events such as space walks and emergency procedures, has been used on the International Space Station (ISS) for over 10 years.

Over the past few years, Skytek has won three awards from Nasa for outstanding software innovation. The company has also developed information and operation-based tools for the aircraft maintenance and emergency response industries and recently designed a new coastal monitoring system with the Irish Naval Services using satellite technology.

Welcoming her prize, Dr Bourke said she believed that such awards are very important to promote awareness that women can compete and achieve at the highest levels in the technology sector.

“It is generally accepted that space is very much a male dominated area in which to work. These awards demonstrate that women are breaking through into the sector and are making significant contributions,” she said.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist