Irish businesses use space technology to tackle Covid-19

Skytek and PMD Solutions will use their expertise in space technology to help in the fight against Covid-19. 

Two Irish companies are supporting the fight against Covid-19 by deploying their expertise in space technology. 

Skytek and PMD Solutions have been awarded contracts by the European Space Agency (ESA) for cutting edge-projects.

“It shows how Ireland’s investment in ESA is supporting Irish companies to develop solutions that make a real difference to our lives”

Dublin-based Skytek, which was founded by Dr Sarah Bourke and Paul Kiernan, is a leader in space technology, developing software used on the International Space Station, as well as satellite and predictive analytics solutions for a range of complex and demanding industries and sectors including marine insurance and the emergency services. 

Skytek’s React 2 is a satellite-enabled platform to support virtual command and control centres, which secures information exchange, distributed working of key personnel, provision of pandemic current situational awareness and supporting automated workflows of common tasks.

It has been designed to streamline and coordinate the response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, linking into Ireland’s Computerised Infectious Disease Reporting (CIDR) system to generate alerts when numbers of suspected cases go beyond a defined figure.

Space age meets age of pandemics

Meanwhile, Cork-based medical device company, PMD Solutions Ltd, in partnership with Beaumont Hospital, is undertaking a space-enabled medical solution ‘CORONA-RS’, to scale community monitoring of respiratory compromised patients due to Covid-19 and other respiratory compromised patient cohorts. 

Covid-19 has transformed the way healthcare providers treat respiratory-compromised patients both in the hospital and the community.

The company is developing the world’s first patient wearable using 5G technology to eliminate the need for any unnecessary ‘middle ware’ that has, up to now, impeded the scaled adoption of community patient monitoring systems.

It is intended to support a virtual ward where patients in the community will remain under the care of a hospital’s experienced respiratory teams in partnership with community medical teams.   

Welcoming the announcement, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD said; “I am very pleased to see further examples of Irish technology companies leading the way in developing innovative technologies to help mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It shows how Ireland’s investment in ESA is supporting Irish companies to develop solutions that make a real difference to our lives. These projects also clearly demonstrate how space technology can deliver tangible solutions to current and emerging challenges, including our global fight against the pandemic.”

The purpose of Ireland’s membership of ESA is to participate in European space programmes, focusing on facilitating innovative Irish operations to develop leading-edge space technologies and to commercially exploit their ESA participation in global space and non-space markets.

“It is very encouraging to see client companies leading the way in Europe in research and innovation and in adapting space technologies to address real and immediate needs,” added Tom Kelly, divisional manager at Enterprise Ireland.

“Space technology pushes boundaries and the solutions associated with this innovation have application in a variety of settings, including tackling the world-wide Covid-19 pandemic.”

These novel projects are supported through the Irish Government’s investment in the European Space Agency’s (ESA) programme in advanced communications satellite technologies and systems (ARTES).

By Stephen Larkin

Published: 23 November, 2020