The European Space Agency is establishing a centre in Cork to support Irish start-up companies developing space-age technology.

The European Space Agency Space Solutions Centre will offer seed capital and other supports to the companies through University College Cork's Tyndall Institute.

The Government believes Irish companies could generate annual revenues of €150 million in the space technology area by 2020.

Companies that locate in the centre will also gain access to research and programmes run by the ESA.

ENBIO, an Irish technology company which has developed a heat-resistant coating for the European Space Agency's Solar Orbiter satellite, received ESA backing for its research.

The deep-space satellite will be launched in October 2018 to explore the Sun in unprecedented detail.

Its sun-block surface, developed by ENBIO, will protect the satellite from solar radiation.

ENBIO chief executive John O’Donoghue said the company wants to encourage other Irish start-ups to avail of ESA backing.