Cork’s Varadis inks deal with the European Space Agency

8 Apr 2021

Tyndall's William Scanlon and Varadis' Brad Wrigley. Image: Varadis

The €600,000 contract will see the Cork start-up designing and building modules for ESA satellites that can detect radiation.

Varadis, a Cork start-up building sensor technology, has secured a €600,000 contract with the European Space Agency (ESA).

The start-up’s radiation detection sensors will be used on ESA satellites in space. This technology has already been used by the International Space Station as well as clients in the private sector.

Varadis was born out of the Tyndall National Institute in Cork, where it developed its radiation detection sensors that can detect and measure absorbed doses of ionising radiation such as gamma rays, protons and x-rays. This Radiation Sensing Field Effect Transistors (Radfets) technology is based on 30 years of research at Tyndall.

The start-up will be designing and manufacturing ‘plug and play’ radiation detection modules for ESA satellites. It is hoping to take a slice of the satellite communications industry that’s tipped to be worth $40bn by 2025.

Brad Wrigley, chief executive of Varadis, said its modules are cost-effective deployments as they reduce R&D spending in-house while maintaining an expansive detection range.

“By using the Varadis module configuration with defined electronic interfaces, we minimise the risk on the integrity of customer’s existing system designs. Space on satellite circuitry boards is often at a premium for manufacturers,” Wrigley said.

Varadis has also been supported by Enterprise Ireland and the ESA Business Incubation Centre, a network of research groups and programmes that support start-ups in the field.

“In addition to the clear technology advancements they will gain under this ESA contract, Varadis have increased their head count and plan further hires over the next year,” Tom Kelly, divisional manager of Enterprise Ireland, added.

Varadis’ contract is the latest link between the ESA and Irish start-ups. Most recently, NovaUCD joined the ESA Space Solutions Centre Ireland consortium, which supports early-stage start-ups entering the space industry.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin