Enterprise Ireland has signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to build an incubation center for Ireland's space-related business firms. When the center is established, it will be bidding to support more than 25 startup Irish space companies before the year 2020. The contract between the enterprise and ESA was made during Enterprise Ireland's investment and trade mission to Germany and the Netherlands, which was headed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
ESA is currently working with more or less 45 space-related companies from Ireland in the development of innovative technologies for the world market, which includes space systems and space-related applications and services. In 2015, the Irish space sector has generated annual revenues estimated around €76 million.
At the European Space Research and Tech Center in Noordwijk, Kenny said that the partnership between the enterprise and ESA will mean that the businesses and their innovators from Ireland will be at the new frontier of space technologies. The country has already a proud history of building a cluster of space-related technological companies, and the new space incubation center will be taking advantage of the extensive network of ESA, as well as its expertise and technical facilities; the enterprise's business development resources; and government investments in research infrastructures.
Julie Sinnamon, chief executive officer of Enterprise Ireland, states that the agreement would be supporting client companies in developing new technologies in areas such as avionics, microelectronics, advanced materials and other space-related services. Other participants in the Netherlands mission include Enbio, Treemetrics, Radisens Diagnostics, Curtis Wright and Arralis.
Last year, next generation surface technology pioneer Enbio opened a technology center in Clonmel for the production of sunscreen for satellites. Other Ireland-based tech firms include laser manufacturer SensL, Elbana Photonics and Moog Dublin, a company that has been working on protecting spacecraft from lift-off vibrations.