Ireland’s investment in the European Space Agency will deliver a yield of more than 1,000 jobs in the space sector in the next four years. Revenues in Irish companies involved in the space industry are expected to rocket.
The agreement emerged during the visit of the director-general of the ESA Jan Woerner to Ireland.
The ESA and the Tyndall National Institute in partnership with Maynooth University, the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster and Athlone Institute of Technology, will establish the Space Business Incubation Centre in Ireland, which will support 25 start-up companies in space-focused areas in the next four years.
The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, said that this is an exciting time for the Irish space industry, which is set to expand at an unprecedented rate over the next few years.
‘The global space economy is undergoing rapid change as more countries enter the 21st-century space race’
– JAN WOERNER, EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY
She said the ESA has achieved remarkable breakthroughs in recent years, including the recent Rosetta rendezvous with Comet 67P last year.
“Our investment in ESA will manifest itself through new companies entering the space sector, scaling of existing companies and the development of a strong cohort of high technology start-ups, leading to increased sales, exports and jobs,” Minister Mitchell said.
“Investment in ESA space programmes, given the pace of expansion of the global and European space economies, will put high-tech Irish companies and researchers in a position to exploit this potential to the maximum.”
Ireland makes one giant step into the space race
The Irish Government’s annual investment in ESA is supporting strong growth in the sector in Ireland, with the number of companies in the sector expected to expand to more than 80 by 2020, generating annual revenues growing from €76m in 2015 to a projected €135m by 2020.
This investment will also double employment, with the creation of more than 1,000 high-value technology jobs in Irish industry by 2020.
Companies involved with ESA are also projected to increase combined turnover from €274m to more than half a billion by 2020.
‘A unique and unprecedented set of economic circumstances and commercial opportunities are available to Ireland and Irish industry to capitalise on past and future investment in ESA’
– JAN WOERNER, EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY
Tyndall CEO Kieran Drain said that the incubation centre, which will be funded by the ESA and Enterprise Ireland, will support entrepreneurs and start-ups working on space technologies that can be applied in terrestrial and space exploration projects.
“The ESA Business Incubation Centre programme is well known for its success in developing innovative start-ups, products and technologies,” Drain said.
Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon said that it will also support Enterprise Ireland client companies who are developing new and innovative technologies for the European Space Programme and the global space market.
Woerner said that the space economy is booming.
“The global space economy is undergoing rapid change as more countries enter the 21st-century space race,” Woerner said.
Given the high level of technology innovation we have seen in Ireland, he said Irish space companies are ideally placed to gain a significant share of the global space market and are already expanding rapidly.
Woerner said Ireland’s investment in ESA has contributed to the development of a highly knowledge-intensive industry sector with a demonstrated direct effect on the participating companies’ ability to generate commercial export sales in the commercial space and non-space market.”
He added: “The ESA provides a platform to accelerate the significant exploitation of the global and European space markets and the level of investment represents a fraction of the total economic benefits.
“A unique and unprecedented set of economic circumstances and commercial opportunities are available to Ireland and Irish industry to capitalise on past and future investment in ESA, which will generate significant economic impact through new company formation, scaling, new multinational companies, increased high-value long-term employment, rapidly-increasing turnover and exports and additional and increasing levels of business expenditure on R&D.”
Space mission image via Shutterstock