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UCD-led space project receives over €7.9m from Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund

Friday, 1 December, 2023

Dr David McKeown

A UCD-led space project has secured just over €7.9 million in funding, the largest single amount awarded to a project under the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) this round.

The project, National Space Subsystems and Payloads Initiative (NSSPI), will support the development of an economically sustainable and expanding space industry in three initial clusters: optical communications for space, autonomous smart satellites and spacecraft and payload modelling, simulation, assembly, integration and test research support.

The NSSPI project is led by(opens in a new window)Dr David McKeown, from theUCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, and the theme lead for Spacecraft Structures, Dynamics and Control at the UCD Centre for Space Research.

Dr McKeown is also the Engineering Manager of EIRSAT-1 (Educational Irish Research Satellite-1), Ireland’s first-ever satellite, scheduled to launch in December.

“The project is a fantastic example of how university led research can naturally support the development of disruptive technologies by Irish space companies,” said Dr McKeown.

“It is a clear backing of the importance of space technology research to Ireland and comes at a very exciting time at UCD as EIRSAT-1, Ireland’s first-ever satellite is planned to launch this week.”

Other UCD researchers who will be involved in the NSSPI project are (opens in a new window)Professor Lorraine Hanlon, and (opens in a new window)Professor Sheila McBreen, UCD School of Physics, along with (opens in a new window)Associate Professor Brian Mac Namee and (opens in a new window)Dr Nima Afraz, UCD School of Computer Science.

In addition to UCD the other NSSPI project consortium members are Realtime Technologies Ltd; Ubotica Technologies Ltd; Mbryonics Ltd; Intel; ÉireComposites Teoranta and Equal1 Laboratories Ireland Ltd. Equal1, a UCD spin-out, is a pioneering silicon quantum computing company and is headquartered at NexusUCD in Dublin, with facilities in Silicon Valley, California, Romania and Canada.

A total of €58.8m in funding through the DTIF was made available to 12 new projects under its latest funding call.

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney TD said these “disruptive projects will also ensure that Ireland’s research and innovation ecosystem is well placed to capitalise on emerging growth sectors while delivering on net zero commitments, decarbonisation and digital transformation, in line with the objectives of the White Paper for Enterprise.”

DTIF projects are utilising industrial research and experimental development to create products and services that have the potential to alter markets and the way that businesses operate.

This latest funding announcement means €364 million has to date been awarded to 103 projects across the six DTIF Calls.

“The projects emerging from Government investment through this Fund are crucial to the continued growth of Ireland’s research and innovation sector,” said Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

“These collaborative projects are expanding the research agenda and are providing valuable learning opportunities for graduates from home and abroad.”

Minister for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Dara Calleary added: “Emerging disruptive technologies play a pivotal role in securing our continued economic progress and these 12 DTIF projects demonstrate the ability of Irish enterprises to harness such technologies and provide sustainable jobs in priority sectors of the economy.”

Further information on the other funded projects announced under Call 6 of the DTIF available(opens in a new window)here.

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations (with materials from Micéal Whelan, UCD Research and Innovation)

UCD School of Mechanical & Materials Engineering

UCD Engineering & Materials Science Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
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