Omnisys Instruments
10 October 2020

Martin Kores, Omnisys: ‘The space industry is a driver of technological advancements’

Gothenburg and West Sweden have a long space-related history and a prominent position in the international space industry, with companies both large and small, outstanding space research and world-class education. More than half of the people working in the Swedish space industry are found here, and West Sweden accounts for two thirds of the Swedish space industry's turnover.

In this new article series, we provide insight into West Sweden’s space cluster and industry. Here we speak with Martin Kores, CEO at Omnisys Instruments.  

Tell us about Omnisys?

“Omnisys manufactures measuring instruments for weather satellites and for climate research satellites. We participate in research and weather projects for both Swedish satellites and in larger European Space Agency (ESA) projects. And in some cases, even in American and Japanese projects. We even work with space missions that study the atmosphere around foreign planets like Mars and Jupiter. We have all the development and production in-house and we collaborate a lot with Chalmers [University of Technology] in those technical areas where we have a common edge.”    

How is it to operate in the Gothenburg region?

“We are a part of the space cluster, in particular the microwave cluster. It includes larger companies such as Ericsson and Saab; and microwave technology is also a strength area of Chalmers. We have also collaborated with RUAG Space, GKN Aerospace and Cobham Gaisler. We do very different things; we don’t compete on the space side. Space companies in Gothenburg work rather independently of each other on the market-side, but have a lot of research in common with Chalmers. This is where we meet.”   

Not being competitors commercially – is it a strength?

“It’s essential. The space market is quite international so it’s important that from the Swedish side, you have a niche and focus on building up specialist knowledge where you can make a difference in international collaborations. This is what is important in our industry. Omnisys has one competitor in Europe, in Germany, who makes similar products to us.”

New space is growing in importance, is that something you have noticed?

“Yes, we have. We think, for example, that the new project which we are involved in and operate within ESA - Arctic Weather Satellite - is a good example of this. Arctic Weather Satellite is a Swedish-led product idea, which started from Omnisys, where instead of building a large, expensive and complicated weather satellite, you build many smaller satellites with only the most useful measuring instruments. In that way, you measure more frequently the same point on Earth and can note events with significantly higher time resolution than we can today. The result is better weather forecasts – and it’s a cheaper solution. ESA has adopted the solution, but we believe it has considerable commercial potential. When it becomes cheaper to make weather observations, I believe the market can be commercialised and that there are private actors who may want to develop and market weather data on their own, alongside the traditional institutions. We believe this is an interesting development that will benefit us as well.”

Martin Kores
Martin Kores, CEO at Omnisys Instruments

 

If we look at our space cluster – what are our strengths?

“The strengths are that we have both large and smaller companies with strong ties to research, and that we are good at what we do. For example, this type of weather and research instrument that we create based on new technology means that we can take part in and support research and interesting weather measurements that wouldn’t be possible if we weren’t involved. So, it is a strength that we have built up this unique knowledge here.”

How do we ensure that we retain this competence?

“It’s a combination of us being good at what we do and that we have backing from politicians and authorities. So, we must continue investing in highly qualified research at Chalmers; but equally important is that the state invests in space – space is infrastructure and to a large extent infrastructure is state financed. Sweden and the research minister made a commendable step forward last year when the space budget was increased. Although it was from a very low level. Now we are hoping that with this type of project we are doing at ESA, with this funding we can be involved and contribute to greatly improved weather forecasts, which will benefit the whole world. So, we hope that the state is willing to invest even more in space. It will also lead to Sweden taking a position in this more commercial space market that is created within NewSpace.”

What are the benefits of having these capabilities in the region?

“My best example for this is the Onsala Space Observatory. This has contributed to that West Sweden and Chalmers have continued to be strong at radar and microwaves and has connections to, for example, why Saab and Ericsson are so prominent. It’s a niche area for West Sweden. It’s a good example of the spreading effect that space technology has. Space is an early user of new technology. We work with small series and this means that you can use newer technology than you can in more mature industries. In that way, we are involved in driving technological advancements, and I think that benefits other industries as well.”

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