Irish firms urged to look to space industry

Irish Technology firms are reaching for the stars in their search for profit. In 2007, they won contracts worth €11 million from the European Space Agency (Esa), almost double the value of space-tech business in the previous year, the Irish Times reported.

Tech firms are being encouraged to take more small steps for mankind at a three-day space industry Skillnets training course, which will take place this weekend.

Officials from Esa, including the head of the agency's small business unit, are in Dublin to advise firms on how to submit research funding proposals and contract bids to the agency, the body which describes itself as 'Europe's gateway to space.'

Danny Gleeson, the Skillnets promoter, told the Irish Times that the government was getting back its €13 million a year investment in the space agency 'two to three times over.'

Commercial space technology was 'one of the few areas of growth in the global technology marketplace,' he said.

Gleeson, a physicist with 20 years' experience in the space industry around the world, said that there was a 'huge undercurrent of space-related revenue,' running into tens of billions of euros.