Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Public Accounts Committee

2020 Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 32 - Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Chapter 6 - Covid-19 Restart Grant Schemes

9:30 am

Dr. Orlaigh Quinn:

I thank the Deputy for his kind words and I will certainly relay them back. The Deputy mentioned the LEOs and we certainly had huge impact from them.

To turn to the European Space Agency, as the Deputy knows, the purpose is to build a base of innovative Irish companies to develop space technologies, but it is for commercial exploitation in the global space and related markets, and that is very important to us. We have seen increased export sales and employment, and we have made additional money available to them. The point we make is that when we send money into the European Space Agency, the companies get contracts to the value of what we invest, so it is a very important approach for us. More recently, we saw €13 million won by them.

The number of companies has grown by 60% in the past five years. It is small. It is up from the 55 companies we had in 2015 and it is now at 87, but they are key, niche companies. The important part about them is that because they engage across with the IDA sector as well, quite often there can be partnerships and other areas we can then exploit for Ireland to be at the leading global edge on innovation.

For us, where we have additional funding, we have put it in there. In 2020, for example, three Irish companies were selected by the European Space Agency to develop solutions on satellite and satellite systems.