The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland is set to develop the country’s first national space strategy for enterprise.

The strategy will specially focus on commercial enterprise activities and formulate various ways for Ireland to maximise the benefit of its investment in the European Space Agency (ESA) and European Union’s (EU) space programmes such as Copernicus, Galileo and Horizon 2020.

In order to supervise the development of the strategy, a steering group will be set up over the next few weeks.

“The space sector is undergoing a significant and rapid transformation.”

A consultation process will also be held to seek opinions from interested parties on how Ireland can best exploit opportunities available in the space enterprise segment.

Ireland’s Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development State Minister John Halligan TD said: “The space sector is undergoing a significant and rapid transformation.

“It’s evolving from a sector where activities are funded purely by governments to one that relies more on private investments to fund commercial activities.

“More than 60 Irish companies are currently benefiting from contracts with ESA, with five new companies expected to enter the sector each year between now and 2020. Employment in Irish companies, which benefit from ESA contracts, is expected to double from 2,000 in 2014 to over 4,500 in 2020.”

Halligan further noted that the proposed space strategy is expected to help Ireland’s existing space companies to expand and identify opportunities for new entrants.

The strategy also intends to identify and explore potential synergies with other sectors, including information and communications technology (ICT).

Meanwhile, Irish space company InnaLabs has secured a new €2.6m contract from ESA to design, develop, manufacture and test a highly reliable radiation-hardened three-axis gyroscope, which will be used to measure angular velocity or maintain the orientation of satellites.