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

Skytek and PMD Solutions, in partnership with Beaumont Hospital, were recently awarded contracts by the European Space Agency (ESA) for their cutting edge projects. 

The successful projects comprise a virtual command and control centre, which will streamline and support effective emergency response, and wearable technology that will support remote monitoring of patient health using satellite technology. 

The projects are supported through the Government's investment in the European Space Agency's programme in advanced communications satellite technologies and systems (ARTES).

Dublin-based Skytek has developed 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. 

Building on Skytek's expertise in insurance and emergency response systems called React, its project will link into acute hospital monitoring systems, allowing decision makers to understand the nature of an outbreak.

The main users of the technology will include acute hospitals, public health authorities, the community health sector, the National Ambulance Service, general practitioners and contract pharmacies, care settings, direct provision centres, facilities for people with an intellectual disability and public health supply contractors.

Meanwhile, PMD Solutions is undertaking a space-enabled medical solution "CORONA-RS" - to scale community monitoring of respiratory compromised patients in the community due to Covid-19 and other respiratory compromised patient cohorts.

PMD is developing a 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. 

The Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English, said he was 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," Mr English added. 

Tom Kelly, Divisional Manager Enterprise Ireland, said it was 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. 

"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.  We expect to see further innovations from Irish companies in the coming months supported through the Governments investment in ESA," he added.