Cork firm Varadis wins €600k European Space Agency deal

Cork-based deep tech company Varadis has won a lucrative €600,000 contract with the European Space Agency.

Varadis is a spin-out company from Tyndall National Institute in Cork, Ireland; a leading European research centre in integrated ICT (Information and Communications Technology) hardware and systems. 

The company’s novel radiation detection sensors and sub-systems are well known to the global space exploration industry and have already been used by astronauts in the International Space Station.

“Varadis is another example of the rapid growth in Irish companies engaging with ESA to develop opportunities in the commercial space market”

Varadis technology is also used by several of the largest private and public sector organisations around the world.

Commercial space opportunities will be out of this world

“Varadis is just one of a growing number of cutting-edge Irish technology companies that is competing for, and winning, very significant European Space Agency contracts, in line with the National Space Strategy for Enterprise,” said Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Damien English, TD.

Varadis’s technology Radiation Sensing Field Effect Transistors (RADFETs), is built on 30 years of research at Tyndall National Institute, and accurately measures the absorbed doses of ionizing radiation such as gamma rays, protons, and x-rays. Now ESA are expanding the use of this technology on satellites.

“As the smallest and most effective solution on the market with such an expansive detection range the plug and play module will provide our customers with huge tech gains and savings on time and in-house R&D costs when adding radiation detection to their satellites,” said Brad Wrigley, co-founder and CEO of Varadis.

“By using the Varadis module configuration with defined electronic interfaces we minimise the risk on the integrity of customer’s existing system designs.  Space on satellite circuitry boards is often at a premium for manufacturers. We’re incredibly grateful for the continued partnership with ESA and Enterprise Ireland.”

The Varadis RADFET is a microelectronic chip, specially engineered to be sensitive to high energy (ionising) radiation.

The RADFETs are small, robust, require no power to detect radiation, can easily be integrated into electronic systems, and are cost effective.

Tom Kelly, divisional manager, Enterprise Ireland, said: “Varadis is another example of the rapid growth in Irish companies engaging with ESA to develop opportunities in the commercial space market.

“We are delighted to see that Varadis is going from strength-to-strength. In addition to the clear technology advancements they will gain under this ESA contract, Varadis have increased their head count and plan further hires over the next year.”

Main image at top: Tyndall National Institute CEO Prof William Scanlon with Varadis co-founder and CEO Brad Wrigley

By John Kennedy (

Published: 8 April 2021