Irish space-tech projects win ESA contracts to tackle Covid-19

23 Nov 2020

Image: © aapsky/

Two Irish companies using space technology in the response to Covid-19 have been awarded contracts from the European Space Agency.

Enterprise Ireland has announced that two projects have secured important contracts with the European Space Agency (ESA) to help tackle one of the biggest issues on the planet at the moment.

The first project, called React2, is being developed by Dublin-based Skytek. It is a satellite-enabled platform that includes a virtual command and control centre to support more efficient Covid-19 responses.

The second project, under development by PMD Solutions and Beaumont Hospital, is called Corona-RS and includes a wearable sensor for remote monitoring of patients using satellite technology.

‘Space technology pushes boundaries and the solutions associated with this innovation have application in a variety of settings’

Skytek’s React2 technology is designed to streamline and coordinate the response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, linking into Ireland’s Computerised Infectious Disease Reporting system to generate alerts when numbers of suspected cases go beyond a defined figure. It also intends to link into acute hospital monitoring systems, allowing decision makers to understand the nature of an outbreak.

In addition to acute hospitals, Skytek said the main users of the system will include Ireland’s public health authorities, GPs, pharmacies, direct provision centres and care homes. It added that data sent through React2 is fully encrypted and accessible through mobile phones.

PMD Solutions’ Corona-RS project will look to develop a wearable device for monitoring respiratory-compromised patients, using 5G technology to eliminate the need for any unnecessary middleware that could impeded the scaled adoption of community patient monitoring systems.

It is intended to support a ‘virtual ward’ where patients in the community will remain under the care of a hospital’s respiratory teams in partnership with community medical teams.

The system would use PMD Solutions’ body-worn RespiraSense monitor, which was trialled at Beaumont Hospital earlier this year in the treatment of Covid-19. It demonstrated an ability to identify which patients would experience respiratory failure 12 hours earlier than the standard of care.

The RespiraSense device will send critical patient physiological data, including their location, to healthcare providers using ESA’s Galileo Global Navigation Satellite System. Enterprise Ireland said the technology will be trialled further in Ireland and Italy.

“Space technology pushes boundaries and the solutions associated with this innovation have application in a variety of settings, including tackling the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic,” said Tom Kelly, divisional manager at Enterprise Ireland.

“We expect to see further innovations from Irish companies in the coming months supported through the Government’s investment in ESA.”

Dublin-based start-up Robotify also recently secured a €450,000 ESA contract to provide robotic simulations for businesses in a range of industries, including agriculture and freight.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic