European Space Agency €300k contract goes to SensL Technologies

30 Sep 2013

SensL Technologies, the Irish innovator in light-detection technology, has scooped a contract worth €300,000 from the European Space Agency (ESA). The company is hoping that the contract, secured via Enterprise Ireland, will help it bring its latest sensor technology to the market, in the area of medical imaging.

The final frontier … tackling med-tech

Seán Sherlock, TD, the Minister of State for Research and Innovation in the Irish Government, announced the ESA funding in SensL Technologies this morning.

Government body Enterprise Ireland is the co-ordinating portal for ESA in Ireland.

SensL is a Cork-based SME. It is not the first time the company has won a contract with the ESA.

It is pioneering what it terms as being “highly innovative and advanced silicon photomultipliers”, otherwise know as ‘SiPM’.

Such silicon photomultipliers have the propensity to detect very low levels of light and are used in a wide range of applications, such as medical imaging and hazard and threat detection.

In these markets, SensL’s products provide a “low-cost, high-performance and more reliable” silicon-sensor alternative, the company said.

As part of this ESA contract, SensL is set to start working on the development of the next-generation sensor for future ESA space-science missions.

On an exporting ‘mission’

The technologies developed by SensL – with ESA support – will aim to contribute to the company’s growth in both commercial space and non-space markets.

SensL is aspiring to have a projected 100pc increase in sales in each of the next two years.

“SensL is another example of how Ireland’s recent investment in ESA is assisting Irish hi-tech companies to develop new technology, leading to export sales and increased employment,” said Sherlock.

The company’s activity, he said, is very much in line with the Government’s strategy of exploiting Ireland’s ESA membership to “foster an expanding high-technology sector in Ireland”.

SensL’s chief technology officer Carl Jackson said the company was very pleased to be working with ESA on this programme.

“It is not often that it is possible to combine the technology requirements for a space application with those of a terrestrial medical imaging application. I am pleased that we have been able to establish a great technology which can be used in this way and I look forward to working with ESA to further develop our unique sensors,” he said.

Ireland became a member of the ESA in 1975

The goal of Ireland’s membership of ESA is to participate in European space programmes with a focus on helping Irish companies develop space technologies and to commercially exploit their ESA participation in global space and non-space markets. The spin-offs could include local employment and the winning of new export-oriented contracts.

On the Enterprise Ireland front, Tony McDonald, programme manager at the agency, said Ireland is seeing an “increasing” trend of Irish companies spinning space technologies into a range of non-space markets, in line with the country’s ESA strategy.  

“SensL’s plan to target the medical-imaging market is an excellent example how space technologies can be commercially exploited outside of the space market,” said McDonald.

Medical imaging image via Shutterstock

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic