News & Events

Minister Halligan leads Enterprise Ireland Trade Visit to ESTEC – the European Space Agency’s Research and Development Centre in the Netherlands.

Details of ESA contracts secured by Irish companies with a cumulative value of almost €2M announced

Mr John Halligan TD, Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation is leading an Enterprise Ireland trade visit to ESTEC, the European Space Research and Technology Centre in the Netherlands, today, Monday 24th April 2017. 

The trade visit will focus on maximising business opportunities for Irish companies with the European Space Agency. Eleven Irish companies are participating in the Trade Mission with a view to maximising their participation in European Space programmes and the Satellite Communications market in particular. 

Announcing the details of the contract wins during the visit to ESTEC Minister Halligan congratulated the companies on their success, saying; “the Irish Government’s investment in Research and Innovation has supported the emergence of highly innovative starts-ups with technology that can be used in the most demanding of space systems. Enbio, Innalabs and PilotPhotonics are the latest Irish companies to have their technical expertise validated by securing contracts from the European Space Agency. This is part of an ongoing rapid expansion of Irish companies engaging with ESA to develop and qualify technologies for the growing space market. A number of these technologies are also successfully being commercialised in a range of non-space applications including healthcare, automotive and aerospace”. 

Significant ESA contracts have been secured by 3 of the participating Enterprise Ireland client companies; 

Enbio, has won a contract worth €650k to develop and manufacture advanced surface coatings for Neosat, Europe’s next generation satellite platform for mid-size telecommunications missions being through the ESA ARTES programme. ENBIO’s new thermal coatings offer a major improvement in the performance of thermal management systems, allowing for more powerful satellites with greater bandwidth capacity. Over recent years ENBIO has benefitted from the Irish Government’s investment in ESA. Through Enterprise Ireland, ENBIO has been able to compete for opportunities and is now successfully coating satellite components for many European satellite manufacturers. The company has grown from six people to its present size of sixteen.

Innalabs secured a €980k contract to develop a space qualified Rate Measurement Unit (RMU) that will be used for satellite Attitude and Orbit Control Subsystems (AOCS) in a range of future space missions as well as in the commercial space market. This contract will enhance the development of the growing space team within the company and provide future opportunities in the expanding commercial space sector. The RMU is based on proven and qualified COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) Coriolis Vibratory Gyroscope (CVG) Technology which offers a low cost alternative to traditional gyroscope space solutions.

PilotPhotonics, has secured a contract worth €335k from the ESA to develop laser communications sub-systems for use in a range of advanced communications satellite systems. Pilot Photonics’ technology is an extremely versatile laser system, known as an optical comb source, which can enable constellations of satellites to communicate at much higher speeds. This is important for handling the large volumes of data that satellites currently gather and transmit for communication, earth science, agriculture, ocean and weather monitoring and transport logistics. Pilot Photonics is a technology start-up based in Dublin which emerged as a spin-out from Dublin City University with the support of Enterprise Ireland. The company’s laser technology was developed through publicly-funded research over a ten-year period. The ARTES contract will contribute to Pilot Photonics doubling its workforce to ten people over the coming twelve months.

Gearóid Mooney, Research & Innovation Manager, Enterprise Ireland, said; “This high-level trade visit to ESTEC provides an opportunity for Enterprise Ireland to help further build relationship between Irish companies and ESA, with a specific focus on new entrant companies and as a means to progress Irish industrial involvement in upcoming Space mission procurement opportunities. Supporting our client companies to identify new markets for their products and services is part of Enterprise Ireland’s strategy to enable our clients to build scale and expand global reach”. 

Welcoming these announcements and the ESA support, Minister Halligan went on to say that “these activities reflect the highly dynamic nature of the space technology sector in Ireland.   We are seeing significant growth in the sat-com sector in particular, mainly involving SMEs and Start-ups, covering a diverse range of technologies, including optical communications to Internet of Things (IoT) and we look forward to continued support from ESA to optimise the economic benefits of Ireland’s investment.” 


For more information contact Press Office, D/Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation ph. 6312200 or 

Notes to the editor

The 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.

Enterprise Ireland, managing Ireland’s membership of the European Space Agency

Enterprise Ireland co-ordinates Ireland’s industrial and research participation in the programmes of the European Space Agency (ESA) in collaboration with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

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.

Almost 60 Irish companies are active in the space sector. 

Notes on the Companies         











Surface treatment technologies

John O’Donoghue;       Barry Twomey

Enbio, based in Dublin and Clonmel, has developed advanced   surface treatment technology for use in space, aerospace and automotive   sectors. It has secured a number of   ESA contracts through the GSTP, ARTES and Science programme, the most recent   activity being a contract to develop surface treatment for the next   generation satellites by developed by Thales space systems.


Gyropscopes; Accelerometers

John O’Leary;

Jose Beitia

Innalabs, based in   Dublin, recently secured an ESA contract to develop advanced space-qualified   gyroscope for use in a range of satellite systems, including scientific,   communications and navigation satellites. The technology also has multiple   non-space applications.

Pilot Photonics

Optical frequency comb technologies

Frank Smyth

Pilot Photonics is a recently established start up from DCU   with support from EI. Pilot Photonics’ technology   is an extremely versatile laser system, known as an optical comb source, that   can enable constellations of satellites to communicate at much higher speeds.   It can also be used in a range of non-space applications. Pilot Photonics   recently secured its first ESA contract under the ARTES core competitiveness   programme.