Galway-based Mbryonics bags €17.5m from European accelerator

27 Mar 2024

From left: Leo Clancy, Enterprise Ireland; John Mackey, Mbryonics; Minister of State Neale Richmond, TD. Image: © Damien Eagers/Coalesce

The space-tech company will use the funding to create a manufacturing, assembly and testing facility in the next five years.

Mbryonics, a space-tech company that develops optical systems for high-speed, secure communication infrastructures, has landed a multimillion-euro investment from the European Innovation Council (EIC).

The Galway-based start-up’s wireless optical transport and coherent photonic-optical transceiver technologies are used in satellite communications, datacoms and 5G.

The fresh funding comes from the EIC accelerator, which is Europe’s flagship innovation programme, provides grant funding of up to €2.5m combined with an equity investment ranging from €500,000 to €15m in a blended finance offer.

Mbryonics received €17.5m, which it will use to create a manufacturing, assembly and testing facility for optics and photonics in the west of Ireland over the next five years.

The company also plans to focus on innovative freeform optics and photonic integrated circuits manufacturing techniques, which could help advance process efficiency, supply chain management and sustainability.

John Mackey, CEO of Mbryonics, said the EIC funding, along with ongoing support from Enterprise Ireland and the European Space Agency, will help the company expand its capabilities.

“This period marks an exhilarating phase for Mbryonics, as our StarCom optical terminal is set to launch in 2025, supporting a client’s development of a space-based quantum internet,” he said.

“Additionally, the US government has chosen StarCom to facilitate a space-based internet linking government satellites with various commercial satellite networks, including Starlink and Kuiper, showcasing the impact of our team’s decade-long commitment and effort.”

‘The critical role of Irish innovation’

The Galway start-up was one of 16 companies to receive funding from Ireland’s Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) in 2019. In 2023, the company received a further €4.1m from the DTIF.

Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail Neale Richmond, TD, said: “Mbryonics is an innovative and exciting tech company that is driving the disruptive technology agenda.

“The recent support from the EIC underscores Mbryonics’ leading position in the field of advanced optical communications technologies and highlights the critical role Irish innovation is playing in securing European technological independence in space, photonics and manufacturing,” he said.

Earlier this year, the space-tech company was selected by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop the optical terminal, including the space telescope, the pointing, acquisition and tracking system and the optical amplifiers, as part of the Space-Based Adaptive Communications Node (Space-BACN) programme.

Ireland has been punching well above its weight for some time in the space-tech arena. In December 2023, Dublin space-tech Réaltra Space Systems Engineering signed a contract with ArianeGroup to provide the next generation of European rocket launchers with key telemetry hardware, while Ubotica launched a new satellite to create ‘live Earth intelligence’ earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the James Webb Space Telescope, which had input from multiple Irish teams, continues to reveal new discoveries.

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Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic