“We urgently need the Government to step up and support the Space Sector so we can compete in the global market.” That’s the words of Resonate Testing Managing Director, Tom Mallon who fears the region may be left behind its GB counterparts if support is not provided, threatening the progress that has already been made in the sector.
The call comes ahead of the latest All Ireland Space Industry Day, hosted by the Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space (ADS) Group, which takes place at Armagh City Hotel on Thursday 21st October. The event will look at innovation within the Space Sector throughout the region, which has been competing on a global level in recent years by exploiting key space engineering, manufacturing, and testing resources and developing world-class space data analytics and machine learning capabilities.
Mr Mallon believes that as well as providing support, including financial assistance, the Government needs to step up and help companies upskill their employees, so they are able to compete on the global market. Depending on the level of support provided, he believes the sector will either see further significant growth by many local SMEs, or alternatively, if no action is taken, it could potentially squander the opportunities that have arisen from the NI Protocol and the unfettered access to the EU markets.
Tom said, “The Space Sector offers so much potential to many SMEs in Northern Ireland, but if we don’t act now, we are going to miss out. The good work that has been achieved will disappear. Political figures and business leaders need to approach this from a ‘levelling up’ agenda. When we look at spend here in Northern Ireland, we are not seeing the opportunities that mainland UK see. If our political leaders don’t support us, we are going to miss out.
“We are now competing on an international and global level. We need to be able to find the right staff and train them to the level required so Northern Ireland can pursue its vision of becoming a globally recognised region for space sector innovation and creativity. This will allow us to exploit further opportunities in the future.”
The Space Cluster within the region has grown in recent years and saw the launch of the Northern Ireland Space Strategy, as well as the Northern Ireland Space Special Interest Group (NISSIG), but to get to the next level, more support needs to be provided to those companies that operate within the sector.
Resonate Testing is one of those companies. Recognised as one of the leading commercial test houses on the Island of Ireland, the company operates from its Centre of Excellence for Space in Newry and provides a range of testing processes across many sectors. In the last 12 months, there has been an increasing demand for tests within the Space Sector and over the next 18 months, the company is on track to grow its space related work from an estimated 10% to 25% of company turnover.
High level vibration and SRS shock testing was conducted by Resonate Testing on equipment that will be used as part of the launch for the upcoming James Webb telescope; the largest, most powerful and complex telescope ever built, which will be launched into space on 18th December 2021.
By raising awareness of the capabilities of companies throughout the Island of Ireland, many of which are up and coming, Tom believes the sector will thrive. He said, “Here in Northern Ireland, and across the island, we have so many companies doing incredible work across the space sector, but with the right support, they and many other companies, will be able to do so much more. We need to raise awareness of our capabilities and through support from the Government and events like the All Ireland Space Industry Day, I firmly believe we will be able to achieve this.”
As part of the All Ireland Space Industry Day, Tom will be presenting alongside Danny Gleeson, Chief Commercial Officer at Dublin-based Réaltra Space Systems Engineering, on how the company remained resilient throughout the pandemic, whilst continuing its innovation. Resonate Testing was awarded Platinum in the Innovate NI Innovation Accreditation programme for its cutting-edge processes that seen the delivery of high-quality live stream testing to global customers, including Réaltra, throughout the global pandemic.