The Government is to develop the first strategy for businesses involved in the space industry in Ireland.

The plan will set out how companies can get the most from the country's investment in the European Space Agency, as well as our contribution via the EU to the Copernicus and Galileo space programmes.

It will also establish a roadmap for how firms can leverage funding from the space funding opportunities under the EU's dedicated €80 billion research fund, Horizon 2020.

In order to oversee the development of the blueprint, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation will establish a steering group in the next few weeks.

The process will involve a consultation period during which those with an interest in the area will be able to contribute their ideas.

"The space sector is undergoing a significant and rapid transformation," said Minister of State with responsibility for Innovation John Halligan.

"It's evolving from a sector where activities are funded purely by governments to one that relies more on private investments to fund commercial activities."

The process was announced by Mr Halligan at an event at Blanchardstown-based company Innalabs, which is involved in developing products for the space industry.

It has just won a €2.6 million contract from the European Space Agency, its largest from the agency to date.

The contract will see it design, develop, build and test a highly reliable radiation-hardened three-axis gyroscope, a spinning device used for measuring or maintaining orientation and angular velocity. 

Previously Innalabs completed a €980,000 contract for the agency.

"We are also pleased to learn that a national Space Strategy for Enterprise is under development," said John O'Leary, CEO of Innalabs.

"We believe this will be an invaluable resource for Ireland to continue to succeed in the space sector, but also to facilitate Irish companies to expand into related commercial markets following ESA validation."

More than 60 Irish firms are already benefiting from contracts awarded by the European Space Agency.

It is expected that every year over the next three, a further five Irish companies will enter the industry.

Employment in Irish companies that benefit from ESA contracts is expected to double from 2,000 in 2014 to over 4,500 in 2020.