Research News

Major Dublin conference examines how successful Scottish space industry could point the way for Ireland

  • 29 February, 2024


A conference taking place in UCD today is exploring the potential growth of the Irish space sector by focusing on how Scotland has made a success of its space industry. The booked-out event has brought senior stakeholders from space enterprises, space sector organisations and leading researchers from across the island of Ireland and Scotland as well as further afield including the European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency.

Titled “Scotland-Ireland Space: Growing the Space Economy Together”, this collaborative event between University College Dublin and the University of Strathclyde in partnership with the Scottish Government in Ireland focuses on learnings from the Scottish and Irish space sectors and the importance of strong collaboration between academia, industry and government. The event also highlights opportunities for the space sectors in Ireland and Scotland linked to the net zero challenge.

Over 8,500 people work in the Scottish space industry which is expected to be worth UK£4 billion by 2030 by which stage the sector is expected to employ 20,000 people. The global space sector is expanding rapidly and is estimated to be worth USD$450 billion annually. A 2023 report by GlobalData suggested that it will be worth $1 trillion by 2030. Under the National Space Strategy for Enterprise, the burgeoning Irish space sector is building a strong reputation in Europe’s space programme with industry and research groups collaborating successfully.

Over 100 Irish companies are working with and providing services to the European Space Agency. The recent launch of Ireland’s first satellite, EIRSAT-1, which was designed and built by a UCD team, demonstrated the value of researchers in building Irish space sector capability including the development of a strong talent pipeline and the advancement of new technologies.

Speaking at today’s event, Triona McCormack, UCD’s Vice-President for Strategy and External Engagement said, “With the European and global space sector expanding rapidly, there is an opportunity for Ireland to capitalise on its superb space potential. The phenomenal progress in the Scottish space industry, in particular in the last ten years shows us what can be achieved here in Ireland.

“A crucial learning from the Scottish experience has been the vital role played by research and the strong interconnectedness between academia, industry and government. UCD is delighted to bring this valuable network together to gain greater insights into the space sector journeys of Ireland and Scotland to help understand the key building blocks for economic, environmental and societal benefits derived from the space sector.”

Neale Richmond TD, Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment which is responsible for Ireland’s national space strategy, who is speaking at today’s event, highlighted the Irish space sector’s potential, “I am delighted to be attending this important event today organised by UCD and the University of Strathclyde, to discuss and identify ways that Ireland and Scotland can learn from each other and grow our space economies.

“This is a hugely important time for the Irish space industry. The recent launch of EIRSAT-1, Ireland’s first satellite, is testament to the talent we have in the Irish space sector, as well as the fact that there are over 100 Irish companies working with the European Space Agency. Ireland’s space sector has huge potential and I look forward to working with our Scottish colleagues to learn from their own success.”

Speaking at the event, Dr Hina Khan, Executive Director of Space Scotland, said “Scotland is at the forefront of driving innovation and progress within the European space sector. We welcome the opportunity today to share learnings from Scotland’s space ecosystem and look forward to greater cooperation with Irish space enterprises, researchers and agencies to help harness the full potential of space exploration and technology to benefit citizens, space and the planet.”

Professor Malcolm Macdonald, Director and founder of the Applied Space Technology Laboratory at the University of Strathclyde; Visiting Professor at the Centre for Space Research (C-Space) at UCD; and Vice-Chair of the UK Space Agency’s Space Technology Advisory Committee said, “A decade ago we supported Scotland’s first satellite, a collaboration between academia and industry, with support from government. Building on that collaborative approach, today Glasgow builds more satellites than anywhere else in Europe. At the University of Strathclyde we’re proud to have had such a central role in growing our dynamic Scottish space sector and honoured to have the opportunity to help UCD similarly shape Ireland’s sector.”