Halligan Planning Enterprise Space Strategy

19 Feb 2018 | 10.05 am

Halligan Planning Enterprise Space Strategy

Scores of Irish firms doing fine already from ESA contracts

19 Feb 2018 | 10.05 am

Minister John Halligan has announced the development of Ireland’s first national Space Strategy for Enterprise by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

The strategy will set out how Ireland can maximise the benefit of its investment in the European Space Agency and in the European Union’s flagship space programmes, Copernicus, Galileo and Horizon 2020.

The minister made the announcement at InnaLabs headquarters in Blanchardstown, a technology company which today also announced its biggest contract to date with ESA.

A steering group will be established in the coming weeks to oversee the development of the Space Strategy. This will include a consultation process to seek views from interested parties on how Ireland can best exploit opportunities in the space enterprise sector.

The ESA is an international organisation, comprised of 22 EU member states. Ireland joined ESA in 1975 and funds the organisation through the country’s annual contribution to the EU budget.

The amount Ireland pays to the ESA annually comes back to Irish companies in contracts, worth €13m in 2017. Effectively the 60 Irish firms paid by the ESA through 2017 were paid by Irish taxpayers.

ESA Contracts

According to Halligan: “The space sector is undergoing a significant and rapid transformation. It’s evolving from a sector where activities are funded purely by governments to one that relies more on private investments to fund commercial activities.

“More than 60 Irish companies are currently benefiting from contracts with ESA, with five new companies expected to enter the sector each year between now and 2020. Employment in Irish companies which benefit from ESA contracts is expected to double from 2,000 in 2014 to over 4,500 in 2020.

“By developing this strategy, the department will ensure that companies already working in this sector can expand, and that opportunities for new entrants are identified. The strategy will also seek to identify and explore potential synergies with other sectors, such as ICT and Aerospace.”

InnaLabs’ €2.6m contract with ESA is to design, develop, manufacture and test a radiation-hardened 3-axis gyroscope. The company’s gyroscope technology is also applied in terrestrial applications such as air transportation, autonomous vehicles, marine, civil engineering projects, rail transportation systems and the oil and gas industries. This contract follows the completion of another ESA €980,000 last year.

InnaLabs CEO John O’Leary commented: “A national Space Strategy for Enterprise will facilitate Irish companies to expand into related commercial markets following ESA validation.”


Photo: John Hallign (left) and John O’Leary (centre) and the Innalbs facility in west Dublin. (Pic: Colm Mahady / Fennells) 

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