DCU and ESA launch new IoT accelerator to boost Irish spacetech

18 May 2017

Image: Andrey Armyagov/Shutterstock

DCU and the ESA have teamed up to create a new maker space for IoT developers, for creating and rapidly prototyping satellite communications technology.

Dublin – and specifically Dublin City University (DCU) – will be the new home of a European Space Agency (ESA) accelerator that aims to support the development of machine-to-machine and internet of things (IoT) technologies for satellite communications.

M2M/IoT Maker-Space will be based at DCU Alpha – where many of its accelerators and innovative technologies are developed – and will support the rapid prototyping and validation of ideas that answer challenges posed by both the ESA and DCU.

Three areas of focus

The initiative – backed by Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation – is targeted at industry, spacetech entrepreneurs, academics and the wider maker movement.

The pair have identified three areas of space communications that they hope will be explored by participants, including developing sensors to aid in search-and-rescue operations, and monitoring critical infrastructure.

Additionally, developers will be tasked with adapting existing radio protocols and standards found in Earth-based communications with systems in space.

The contract was awarded to the new maker space through the ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) programme, with accepted projects being funded over an 18-month period.

The ESA said that the value of these projects will be between €5,000 and €20,000 each.

Further develop Irish companies

“With modern satellite communications, many design challenges are unique, requiring testing and experimentation to reveal what does and does not work,”  said the ESA’s Frank Zeppenfeldt.

“For this reason, fast prototyping of promising technology concepts is absolutely essential.”

He added: “Through the Maker Space initiative, ESA hopes to engage and work with a wide variety of parties with whom ESA has never worked to enable new ideas, boost innovative technologies and prepare for future Satcom products.”

Meanwhile, DCU president Prof Brian MacCraith welcomed the move, saying: “We hope to stimulate and support new technological advances that can be further developed by Irish companies, with R&D support that leverages DCU’s expertise in IoT, sensors and communications.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic