Irish companies active in space tech sector set for boost

Numbers in line to expand from 50 firms to more than 80 in the next four years

The number of Irish companies working in the space sector is expected to grow from 50 to over 80 by 2020 generating revenues that are predicted to grow from €76 million last year to more than €150 million by 2020, it emerged today.

Details about the predicted growth in the space sector were revealed at the launch of the new European Space Agency Space Solution Centre in Cork which is aimed at assisting start-up companies turn space-related business ideas into commercial operations.

Minister for Jobs Mary Mitchell O’Connor explained that 25 start-up companies will receive €50,000 in seed funding as well as technical assistance and opportunities to access other funding mechanisms.

Ms Mitchell O’Connor said the centre will also offer 10 rounds of €40,000 funding to support technology transfer for established companies that want to develop demonstrators for new products and services using technology.


The centre, which is funded by the ESA and Enterprise Ireland, is led by the Tyndall National Institute in Cork in partnership with Athlone Institute of Technology, Maynooth University and the Irish Maritime and Energy Research Cluster based in Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour.

Minister for Innovation John Halligan said that Ireland's ESA Space Solution Centre – one of 14 ESA Business Incubation Centres in Europe – will have a significant impact on job creation and the Irish business landscape over the coming years.

Seed funding

Meanwhile, David Gibbons, manager of the ESA Space Solutions Centre pointed out that the companies applying for the €50,000 seed funding do not necessarily have to develop products for use in space but can also use technologies developed for space to solve challenges on Earth.

He offered the example of Irish company SubTeraNDT which benefitted from an ESA BIC programme in the UK and uses sub-terahertz frequencies originally developed for space application to to detect corrosion and defects under paint and insulation in the oil and gas industries.

Another company, ENBIO which also benefitted from ESA support, began using coatings originally developed for use in artificial hip joints to create “sunscreen for satellites” to protect them from solar radiation, said Mr Gibbons.

“This is an open call for companies and entrepreneurs to start talking to us, even if they are not sure whether they fit. So much technology we use to every day originally came from space programmes,” he said.

Interested companiesare invited to apply as soon as possible.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times