Minister Halligan leads a delegation of Enterprise Ireland supported companies and Irish public body representatives on a visit to the European Space Agency's centre for Earth Observation
3rd September, 2019
During this visit, Minister Halligan announced that three Irish companies have secured co-funding under the European Space Agency’s Earth Observation Programme, with a collective value of over €1.5million.
Mr. John Halligan T.D., Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, is leading eight Enterprise Ireland supported companies and seven public bodies on a visit to ESRIN, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) centre for Earth Observation. Minister Halligan was welcomed to ESRIN by Jan Wörner, Director General of ESA and Josef Aschbacher, Director of Earth Observation Programmes and Head of ESRIN. The visit will focus on maximising business opportunities for Irish companies and driving greater awareness of ESA’s Earth Observation programme, and the opportunities it presents, among public bodies. Engagement with ESA’s Earth Observation programmes is in line with the National Space Strategy for Enterprise 2019-2025 and supports the ambitions of Future Jobs Ireland.
During this visit, Minister Halligan announced that three Irish companies have been awarded co-funding under ESA’s Earth Observation programme, with a total value over €1.5 million. Two of these companies secured co-funding through Ireland’s investment in the InCubed programme, which supports industry to develop new commercial Earth Observation based products by providing rapid co-funding. mBryonics, a Galway based company which specialise in photonics, has secured co-funding of €800,000 under ESA’s InCubed programme to support the development of a software defined optical transport network to deliver very high throughput Earth Observation data downloads. The system addresses the issue of cloud blockage that has previously prevented reliable high capacity optical data downlinks. The project aims to validate hardware and software for the commercial roll out of an optical network service. A second company, Skytek, Dublin, has achieved co-funding under ESA’s InCubed programme for €470,000. Building on their Marine Aggregate Tool (MAT), Skytek received InCubed funding support to develop an advanced application to allow insurers to assess the real time scale of cargo in ports, hence, enabling them to effectively manage risks. The application is based on advanced analytic techniques such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Davra, Dublin, has also secured 50 percent co-funding for a €570,000 project to develop an integrated satellite and distributed ground sensor system to monitor mining Tailings Storage Facilities (TSFs) in remote locations.
While announcing the contracts during the visit to ESRIN, Minister Halligan congratulated the companies on their success, saying; “I am delighted to be announcing more contracts between Irish companies and the European Space Agency. I am particularly pleased that these contracts will support our companies to strengthen their capabilities in the field of Earth Observation, enabling us to achieve the goals of Ireland’s National Space Strategy for Enterprise, 2019-2025, in addition to supporting the aims of Future Jobs Ireland, which places a focus on embracing innovation and technological change, transitioning to a low carbon economy and developing talent and enhancing skills in areas including big data analytics, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.”
Additionally, Minister Halligan announced that Maynooth University, in collaboration with ESRIN, will soon launch a €500,000 Stakeholder Engagement and Identification of Priorities Earth Observation Prototype Services project. Under this initiative Irish companies can receive funding to pilot solutions for information needs identified by public sector partners.
Welcoming this announcement and the ESA support, Minister Halligan said: “I encourage relevant companies in Ireland to identify potential opportunities for collaboration with public sector partners, and moreover, to work together to show that satellite derived data can provide timely information, important for supporting the delivery of many public service monitoring and control activities”.
Tom Kelly, Divisional Manager, Innovation and Competitiveness, Enterprise Ireland said: “This visit to ESRIN is an important step in Enterprise Ireland’s continuing drive to support companies as they seek to take advantage of the international business opportunities that exist in converting satellite derived data into commercially valuable information. The focus of this particular visit is understanding how this data can be used to monitor the effects of climate change and supporting climate action as Ireland has an important role to play in this. It’s an exciting time for Earth Observation in Ireland and we look forward to continuing to work closely with our national players, the European Space Agency and the European Commission to realise the ambition set out in the National Space Strategy for Enterprise.”
Ireland’s investment and participation in ESA’s Earth Observation programmes affords Irish industry and public bodies with the opportunity to seize commercial opportunities in market areas such as smart agriculture and planning; develop capabilities in strategic skill sets such as Big Data analytics; and to contribute to the development of solutions to global challenges, such as climate change mitigation and food security. There are already several Irish companies engaged with ESA’s Earth Observation Programme. Techworks Marine recently started a €600,000 project with ESA named CoastVal to validate Sentinel 3 data captured over Dublin Bay. This involves the design and build of a bespoke buoy that captures ocean and climactic condition at the same time as Sentinel-3 passes overhead. Early results indicate an excellent matchup between the in-situ CoastVal data and the Sentinel-3 data.
Notes to the Editor
- European Space Agency
The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities. Today it launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space. www.esa.int
- ESRIN, Frascati
ESRIN, known as the ESA Centre for Earth Observation, is one of the five ESA specialised centres situated in Europe. Located in Frascati, a small town 20 km south of Rome in Italy, ESRIN was established in 1966 and first began acquiring data from environmental satellites in the 1970s. www.esa.int/About_Us/ESRIN/ESRIN_overview
- Ireland’s Membership of the European Space Agency
Irish membership of the European Space Agency ESA is funded through an annual subscription that allows Irish companies and researchers to competitively bid for ESA tenders. The value of the resulting contracts is commensurate with Ireland’s contribution to the overall ESA budget. Enterprise Ireland co-ordinates Ireland’s industrial and research participation in the programmes of ESA in collaboration with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. The total value of ESA contracts to Ireland in 2018 was €21m.
The purpose of Ireland’s membership of ESA is to participate in European space programmes with a focus on facilitating innovative Irish operations to develop leading edge space technologies and to commercially exploit their ESA participation in global space and non-space markets, leading to increased export sales and employment. Enterprise Ireland’s role in relation to ESA is to assist Irish operations to successfully bid for ESA contracts, providing expertise for Irish operations and researchers in developing and executing space strategies, as well as being a point of reference for the international space industry when they want to identify relevant sources of space-related expertise within Ireland. Irish industrial and research participation in ESA covers a range of sectors and technology areas including; software, precision mechanical engineering, telecommunications, electronics, optoelectronics and advanced materials and extending to end user equipment, services and applications.
mBryonics is based in Galway and specialises in photonics (the combination of light sources (e.g. LEDs, lasers), optical design, lens systems, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and software engineering).
mBryonics secured funding support of €800,000 from ESA’s InCubed programme to develop a software defined optical transport network to deliver very high throughput Earth Observation data downloads from the space segment to a distributed ground segment. www.mbryonics.com
Skytek is a software company specialising in the creation of innovative solutions for a range of complex and demanding industries.
Skytek received funding support under ESA’s InCubed Programme to develop an advanced application to allow insurers to assess the real time scale of cargo in ports once offloaded from a ship and hence, their potential liability in the case of accident. This contract has a co-fund value of €470,000. www.skytek.com
Davra provides a complete Internet of Things (IoT) AEP platform that allows System Integrators, OEMs and end customers to define, build and rapidly bring to market inductrial grade IoT applications on a single reliable, secure and scalable IoT platform.
Davra received 50 percent co-funding for a €570,000 project to develop an integrated satellite and distributed ground sensor system to monitor mining Tailings Storage Facilities (TSFs) in remote locations. www.davra.com
- Maynooth University
Maynooth University is an internationally recognised institution located 25 kilometres outside of Dublin, Ireland, and is the nation’s fastest growing university.
Maynooth University will soon be launched a €500,000 Stakeholder Engagement and Identification of Priorities Earth Observation Prototype Services project in collaboration with ESRIN, ESA’s centre for Earth Observation. www.maynoothuniversity.ie
- TechWorks Marine
TechWorks Marine is a provider of oceanographic equipment and world-class solutions to monitor the marine environment, working in the private and public sectors both in Ireland and overseas.
TechWorks recently began a €600,000 project with ESA named CoastVal, to validate Sentinel 3 data captured over Dublin Bay. www.techworks.ie
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