Irish start-ups that use space technology in both terrestrial and space exploration contexts are being invited to apply to the new European Space Agency (ESA) Space Solutions Centre Ireland for funding and support. The Centre, launched today, is led by Tyndall National Institute in Cork in partnership with Maynooth University, Athlone Institute of Technology, and Irish Maritime and Energy Research Cluster. Funded by the European Space Agency and Enterprise Ireland, it aims to inspire entrepreneurs to turn space-connected business ideas into commercial companies.
Commenting on the announcement Vice-President for Research, Professor Bernard Mahon, said: “We have a long history of space research and commercialisation at Maynooth University, and have been working with the European Space Agency for many years. Our research has contributed to the Rosetta/Philae mission, the Planck surveyor and the Herschel observatory.”
“Analysts are now predicting that Irish companies in the space sector will double revenue in the next four years. The new ESA business incubator based on the Maynooth campus will help companies gain access to space research and seed funding and support the creation of high value jobs in the region,” Professor Mahon continued. Interested companies and entrepreneurs are invited to learn more at a workshop in Maynooth University, on 9 September, details here.
MaynoothWorks Centre Manager, Owen Laverty added: "Bringing the ESA Space Solutions Centre to MaynoothWorks is a significant component in our value add to the entrepreneurial and research community in Maynooth and beyond. The ESA network, brand and funding (in cooperation with Enterprise Ireland) will provide considerable opportunities to launch and scale."
The Space Solutions Centre has two strands, providing enticing opportunities for both new and established companies. Each of the 25 start-ups that successfully apply will receive €50,000 in seed funding, along with expert technical assistance and opportunities to access other funding mechanisms. The centre will also offer ten rounds of €40,000 funding to support technology transfer for established companies that want to develop demonstrators for new products and services using space technology. Companies can work from any of the four host institutions.
Speaking at the event Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD said: “The Centre will give Irish entrepreneurs and start-ups a unique opportunity to access the funding, expertise and networks they need to grow their businesses and create jobs. We are proud of the fact that four of the country's leading science and technology institutions are at the forefront of such an innovative and exciting initiative. With the support of the European Space Agency, Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Ireland can look forward to the rapid expansion of the Irish space sector in the coming years.”
David Gibbons, Manager of ESA Space Solutions Centre Ireland, emphasises that companies do not necessarily have to develop products for use in space. “This is an open call for companies and entrepreneurs to start talking to us, even if they are not sure whether they fit,” says Gibbons. “So much technology that we use every day originally came from space programs. People get hung up on the idea of technology that will be used on satellites or space-craft, but this is about applying space technology more broadly to create good products, good companies and more jobs.”
“Companies that successfully apply for the incubation programme will remain in the Centre for two years, and after that would be expected to gain High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) status,” explains Gibbons. “As well as the seed funding of €50,000 the companies will also gain access to a range of ESA space programmes and other funding mechanisms, and be able to take advantage of the brand value of ESA. Being part of the ESA family opens the door to a host of commercial opportunities and ESA resources such as the use of satellite data.”
Julie Sinnamon, Enterprise Ireland CEO, stated that Enterprise Ireland is delighted to be partner with the European Space Agency in supporting the development of high potential start up companies in this emerging sector, through the ESA Space Solutions Centre. Enterprise Ireland will bring its resources to the partnership to assist start- up companies in the development of new products for the global space market, supporting export sales and job creation, with a strong focus on regional entrepreneurship.
Companies and entrepreneurs are invited to learn more at a workshop in Maynooth University, on 9 September. Further information is available here. More information about the application process is available from ESASpaceSolutions.ie.