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

Software company Skytek is investing in an ambitious Research & Development (R&D) programme to develop its new Real Earth platform.

Monday, 7th June 2021, 12:00 pm
Updated Monday, 7th June 2021, 12:12 pm

Software company Skytek is investing in an ambitious Research & Development (R&D) programme to develop its new Real Earth platform.

The platform assists insurers to proactively monitor risk aggregation and assess loss exposure with the assistance of Earth Observation (EO) imagery and other space technologies.

Headquartered in Dublin, Skytek established its Belfast office in 2020. The company specialises in geo-location and earth observations (EO) solutions for space, insurance, aerospace and defence sectors. The Real Earth platform will form an important new feature of Skytek’s current REACT system.

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Rita Malosti, Head of Space Activities at Skytek with Dr Vicky Kell, Director of Innovation, Research and Development, Invest NI

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. Skytek’s 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.

“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.”

Alongside developing Real Earth, the Skytek Belfast team specialises in creating software applications for the European Space Agency and NASA. The company has won awards from NASA and the EU for outstanding innovation.

Dr Sarah Bourke, Skytek CEO, explained: “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 Northern Ireland’s guidance was invaluable when we opened our Belfast office last year. 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 has offered the company £79,370 of support towards the development of its Real Earth platform.

Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI’s Director of Innovation, Research and Development, added: “Skytek is one of Ireland’s leading space technology companies. The company 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 development.

“After advising the company on its expansion into Northern Ireland in 2019, we’re pleased to continue our support as it innovates and diversifies into new sectors.  The R&D skills that 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. I am pleased that our expertise is already being recognised by companies such as Skytek.”

Invest NI is committed to driving innovation in Northern Ireland and is a proud partner of Innovate NI, a Department for the Economy programme, helping local businesses innovate successfully.

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