Space strategy boost for economy and jobs

Space strategy boost for economy and jobs

The giant communications dish at the National Space Centre Earthstation at Elfordstown, outside Midleton, Co Cork. Picture David Creedon / Anzenberger

THE Government has launched the country’s first National Space Strategy.

Innovation Minister John Halligan said the 2019-2025 strategy would ultimately benefit “our children’s children’s children”.

Ireland pays €18.3 million a year in funding to the European Space Agency (ESA), which Mr Halligan has defended as value for money, helping to create jobs and benefiting the economy.

“Our return from the contracts we get have never been below one in four — every euro we’ve invested, we’ve made back four euro, there’s been a substantial return for our money,” Mr Halligan said during the launch.

“The turnover of these companies is around €300 million this year alone.

Prof Brian MacCraith, president of DCU and John Halligan TD.
Prof Brian MacCraith, president of DCU and John Halligan TD.

“The aim is to develop a strategy for the many Irish companies who work with the ESA, around 67 companies at present sending hi-tech technology into space.

“The national space strategy also supports the aims of the Future Jobs Ireland framework, embracing innovation and technological change and supporting the development of quality jobs that will be resilient into the future.”

The Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development estimates the plan will help create 1,000 jobs next year.

The Government says 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”, by providing support to Ireland’s expanding space industry and research institutes.

According to the European Investment Bank, the international space sector has grown by an average of 6.7% per annum between 2005 and 2017, almost twice the 3.5% average yearly growth of the global economy.

The capabilities of space-active enterprises in Ireland have progressed significantly in recent years, with the number of companies engaged in contract work with the ESA having grown from 35 in 2008 to 67 in 2018.

The strategy sets out goals to achieve by 2025, including to help double the space-related revenue and employment in space-active Irish companies, to double the value of contracts won through the EU Horizon programmes in space-related activities, and increase industry, public and international awareness of space and Ireland’s activities in space.

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