Skytek invests in R&D to develop new earth observation technology for the insurance sector

Rita Malosti (left), head of space activities at Skytek, with Invest NI's director of innovation, research and development Dr Vicky Kell
Rita Malosti (left), head of space activities at Skytek, with Invest NI's director of innovation, research and development Dr Vicky Kell

DUBLIN-based Skytek, which established a Belfast office last year creating software applications for the European Space Agency and NASA, is investing in an ambitious research & development (R&D) programme to develop its new Real Earth platform, which assists insurers to proactively monitor risk aggregation and assess loss exposure.

Skytek, which has benefitted from £79,370 of support from Invest NI, specialises in geo-location and earth observations (EO) solutions for space, insurance, aerospace and defence sectors.

Rita Malosti, head of space activities at Skytek, said: “We have an excellent reputation within the international space sector. Our core technology has been onboard the International Space Station for over 15 years.

“Our REACT system provides real-time information and earth observation imagery to support risk exposure and loss calculation management. It was used by multinational professional services firm AON and other leading partners during the recent Suez Canal incident and the Beirut port disaster, both significant events for the marine insurance sector.

“In the era of 24-hour reporting, for insurance companies, the ability to instantly know exactly what vessels were in the area at the time and their condition post-event is crucial in enabling accurate loss reporting to the stock markets.”

She added: “To capitalise on the growing demand for EO technology, the new platform is designed to allow insurance companies to easily and quickly obtain earth observation imagery before and after an event.

“Every year, the USA hurricane season represents a key threat for the global insurance sector, and this year Real Earth will support insurance companies during the hurricane season.”

Skytek chief executive Dr Sarah Bourke said: “When we visited Northern Ireland in 2019, I was very impressed with the local technology sector, including the growing Insurtech and SpaceTech clusters, and Invest NI’s guidance was invaluable when we opened our Belfast office.

“We are actively recruiting in Northern Ireland and will employ 20 senior programmers and data analysts in the next 12 months. Skytek is also a strong supporter of women in technology and is active in promoting awareness amongst young girls. We look forward to continuing these efforts in Northern Ireland.”

Invest NI’s director of innovation, research and development Dr Vicky Kell said: “Skytek is one of Ireland’s leading space technology companies. It has recognised the importance of continual investment in R&D to develop new technology and this new Real Earth solution for the insurance industry is an exciting move.

“The R&D skills the Belfast team has gained from the Real Earth project will be readily transferrable into significant space sector projects. The space sector will be one of our key growth areas moving forward post-pandemic as Northern Ireland expands as a globally recognised region for space sector innovation.”