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Research & Innovation

European Space Agency applauds Irish marine innovations
Pictured (l-r): Barry Fennell, International Technology Programmes at Enterprise Ireland, Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock T.D. and Dr Volker Liebig, ESA Director of Earth Observation Programmes


Seas, oceans and coasts constitute a rich and often underestimated resource. They are linked to innovation, growth and employment and they also provide invaluable ecosystem services and contribute to numerous socio-economic activities.

Over 120 specialists from across Europe recently gathered in Cork at the “Space Innovation Powering Blue Growth” conference to discuss how space technologies can contribute to increasing the Irish maritime sector's contribution to Europe’s economic growth and recovery.

Opening the conference Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock, said: “There are over 40 Irish companies currently engaged in ESA programmes many of which are directly addressing global challenges such as climate change, sea-level rise, maritime surveillance and marine environmental monitoring. This is a growing industry and one which will guarantee high-quality jobs for Irish people and benefit our economy into the future”.

Dr Volker Liebig, ESA Director of Earth Observation Programmes was a key note speaker at the conference. According to him, Irish companies and researchers have distinguished themselves in European Space Agency (ESA) programmes by developing innovative maritime services using satellite derived data in areas as diverse as marine renewables, fisheries protection, aquaculture and tourism.

Outlining the potential role of space-based systems in seizing future economic opportunities in the Maritime sector, Dr. Liebig remarked “Data from satellites help identify how our oceans are used and there is a very strong demand from the marine community and operational agencies for this type of information. For example, oil spills and pollution know no borders, use of and access to shipping routes is becoming increasingly complex, and illegal activities require robust maritime surveillance capabilities.”

In outlining opportunities for Ireland in particular, Dr. Liebig points to Ireland’s extensive maritime area, which makes it one of the EU’s largest member states – “This national asset is a largely untapped source of many new business opportunities, especially for Irish SMEs".

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