independent

Friday 18 April 2014

SensL wins €300,000 European Space Agency contract

Minister Sean Sherlock. Photo: Patrick Casey.
Minister Sean Sherlock. Photo: Patrick Casey.

Irish company SensL Technologies has won a €300,000 contract from the European Space Agency – which had come under fire for getting €17m of Government funding each year.

The cost of funding the European Space Agency (ESA) has been politically controversial when the public finances are in deficit. But the Government has insisted that it results in Irish companies getting far more back in contracts than it puts in.

Junior Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock has announced that an Irish based company involved in light detection technologies has now got a €300,000 contract from the ESA.

“The activity is very much in line with the Government’s strategy of exploiting Ireland’s ESA membership to foster an expanding high technology sector in Ireland,” he said.

Last year, the cost of membership of the ESA was highlighted at the Dail’s Public Accounts committee, with Independent TD Shane Ross describing it as “an awful lot of money”.

But SensL Technologies, which is based in Cork, is now expecting to increase its sales by 100pc in each of the next two years with the help of the €300,000 ESA contract.

It produces sensors which are used to detect and measure light. They are already used in medical imaging but the company will be working with the ESA to develop the next generation sensor for future space science missions.

The Government is aiming to double space sector exports and increase the jobs here from 1,570 in 2011 to more than 2,000 jobs by 2015.

Ireland has been a member of the European Space Agency since 1975. It is currently working on upgrading its disposable Ariane 5 rockets, which deliver satellites and other payloads into space. It is designing a successor to fly in 2021 or 2022.

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