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Minister Halligan re-affirms Ireland’s commitment to European space programmes with over €100 million investment to 2024, supporting the further expansion of Ireland’s space-active industry

Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan, T.D., along with Ministers with responsibility for space within the 22 European Space Agency (ESA) Member States and Canada, gathered in Seville, Spain to attend ESA’s  Ministerial Council meeting, Space19+.  The key purpose of the Ministerial meeting is to determine future ESA policies and strategies and to take decisions on Member States’ investment in future space programmes.

During Space19+, Minister Halligan confirmed Ireland’s investment in a number of ESA’s Optional Programmes. Ireland’s investment decisions at Space19+ have been guided by the National Space Strategy for Enterprise 2019-2025, published earlier this year. The national strategy aims to develop a strong and economically sustainable space-active industry in Ireland.

In line with the strategy, Ireland has invested in Optional Programmes which will generate commercially sustainable business opportunities, especially in the emerging Space 4.0 market and in technology transfer, which can support companies to expand into multiple market verticals. The space programmes that Ireland invested in at Space19+ include PRODEX, Exploration, Earth Observation, Navigation, Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, Technology and Space Transportation.

Minister Halligan also confirmed Ireland’s investment in ESA’s Mandatory Programmes for the coming years. ESA’s Mandatory Programmes, comprised of ESA’s Scientific Programme and the ESA General Budget, underpin the work and capabilities of the Agency.

Speaking at the ESA Ministerial meeting in Seville, Minister Halligan said "This Ministerial Council meeting is very timely for Ireland. Earlier this year I published Ireland’s first National Space Strategy for Enterprise, which sets out the framework for investment and growth between now and 2025”

The Minister continued “Ireland’s investment in ESA will be guided by the priorities identified in the strategy and I am delighted to announce that Ireland’s level of investment in new Optional Programmes at Space19+ is a significant increase when compared to the last Ministerial Council meeting held in 2016.

We hope to see Ireland’s overall investment in space increase above and beyond this level in the coming years through industry co-funding, which is supported through a number of ESA programmes Ireland will be investing in”. 

Minister Halligan also said, “Ireland’s investment will focus on programmes that enable Irish companies to become actively engaged in technology transfer, which will support long-term quality employment by providing leading-edge solutions for both the space and complementary markets, thus supporting several of the aims of Future Jobs Ireland, including embracing innovation and technological change, enhancing skills and transitioning to a low-carbon economy”.

Minister Halligan added that he was particularly happy that Ireland is joining ESA’s Climate Change Initiative, in addition to the Global Development Assistance Programme, which will use Earth Observation data to assist developing countries in areas such as food security and mitigation of the effects of natural disasters. 

Tom Kelly, Divisional Manager, Enterprise Ireland, welcomed the additional investment in ESA supporting increased innovation in Irish industry, technology transfer and developing supply chain opportunities for Irish industry in the global space sector, with a strong focus on SMEs and start-up companies.

The commercial space industry has been estimated to grow to approximately €2.3 trillion by 2030. Ireland’s versatile and adaptive space-active industry is ideally placed to gain a significant share of this growing market and is already rapidly expanding into it. The number of Irish companies engaged with ESA contracts has grown from 45 in 2014 to 70 in 2019. This is an increase of over 55% in 5 years.  Ireland invested over €100 million to 2024 in strategic ESA space programmes which will put innovative Irish companies and researchers in a position to further seize the opportunities presented by the growing global space economy.

The Government’s investment in ESA forms part of a wider strategy for Irish industry and research facilities to access opportunities to develop space capabilities under Horizon 2020 and other R&D programmes of the European Union. 


For further information please contact:

Press Office, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation +353 1 631 2200,


The European Space Agency and Space19+ 

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s and Ireland’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. Member States’ investment in ESA is made on the basis of geographical return, meaning that the amount a Member State invests in ESA is commensurate with the amount that their national industry receives back in contracts.

ESA holds a Ministerial Council Meeting approximately every three years and provides an opportunity for Member States to agree on the future programmes and strategies of the Agency.

For more information on ESA please see:

For more information on Space19+ please see:

Ireland’s Membership of ESA

Membership of ESA provides Ireland’s businesses with access to a €5 billion per year technology development organisation that has no equal anywhere outside NASA along with greatly improved access to Global and European institutional space clients, prime contractors and technology supply chains.

ESA plays a critical role in developing a strong European Space programme and space industry and has been fundamental to in developing the specialised, highly innovative, industrial capabilities that exist in the Irish space sector. ESA :-

  • Provides a significant capital investment support for in-company & 3rd level RDI in leading edge space technologies for commercial exploitation in the global space and non-space markets for the SME and MNC sector.
  • Supports the Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland strategy of supporting high potential start-ups, company scaling, as well as foreign direct investment.
  • Provides prioritised support for technology innovation and technology transfer that leads to exports, sales and employment generation by Irish industry.
  • A platform to fully exploit the opportunities of the Global space market and maximise the financial return and economic impacts of Ireland’s financial contributions to the EU space programme budgets.
  • Contributes directly BERD and HERD, to all metrics and targets in Innovation 2020, Enterprise 2025 and EI and IDA Strategies.

Enterprise Ireland and ESA

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 Business, 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 companies 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 companies to successfully bid for ESA contracts, providing expertise for Irish companies 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.

For more information on Enterprise Ireland and ESA please see:

The National Space Strategy for Enterprise 2019-2025

The National Space Strategy for Enterprise 2019-2025 was published in June 2019. The strategy sets out Ireland’s vision for space enterprise - to develop and support an economically sustainable and expanding space-active industry, delivering quality jobs for the economy of tomorrow.

More information on the strategy is available here:

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) plays a key role in implementing the Government’s policies of stimulating the productive capacity of the economy and creating an environment which supports job creation and maintenance. The Department has lead responsibility for Irish policy on global trade and inward investment and a remit to promote fair competition in the marketplace, protect consumers and safeguard workers.

For further information please contact Press Office, D/Business, Enterprise and Innovation, or (01) 631-2200

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