The Business Year

Ivo Vieira

CEO, Lusospace

Nuno Avila

CEO, Deimos Engenharia S.A.

The aerospace sector in Portugal has become extremely competitive, with companies racing to develop new innovative technologies and projects that will require not only creativity and talent but also patience.

Can you elaborate more on the company?

IVO VIEIRA LusoSpace has been working in the space sector since 2002 and celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2022. We have been working mainly in hardware and developing products and systems for the space sector. The main products are for navigation, some are for optical communication, and we have also been developing augmented reality technology to improve the productivity of our systems. At present, we are working to deploy a satellite constellation. We operate in a highly niche segment: one of our products, for example, is the magnetometer, which no other company in Portugal sells. The optical communications terminal that we developed is set to launch in 2023 and will enable communication between Leo satellites and ground stations. Then, there are the augmented reality systems that we have been developing to improve human productivity. This has great significance for the industry itself in that we can assemble and test a satellite much faster and more reliably. The third project we are particularly proud of is the laser for Laser Interfermoter Space Antenna (LISA): LISA will be the largest manmade structure of its kind ever made—a giant laser observatory in space to probe the dark side of the universe.

NUNO AVILA Today, with over 500 professionals in Spain, Portugal, the UK, Romania, and Italy, Deimos is one the most prominent space companies in Europe, covering all aspects from space engineering, satellite production (Deimos 1, Deimos2, Neptuno) and operation, but also a business critical information systems provider for transportation, energy production and automation. What had started as a purely engineering company doing studies in engineering for third parties 20 years ago has quickly evolved into a company that can cover the entire value chain. The company achieved a turnover of about EUR50 million in 2021. In Portugal, Deimos Engenharia’s core business is space. We have been one of the most successful suppliers of the European Space Agency (ESA) since Portugal joined ESA in 2000. Actually, Deimos is part of the history of the Space sector in Portugal. Back in 2000, there was barely any company working in space—it was a totally new sector. In 20 years, we proudly grew in Portugal a strong industrial capacity up to the level of space system integration, developed unique technologies, nurtured a huge network of science and technology partners and co-founded Portuguese aerospace and defense associations (AED and former ProEspaço).

What is the long-term vision of the company?

IV We will continue to establish partnerships with local and international institutions. We also partner with universities for specific tasks for projects, as well as for PhDs or other academic work. As an example, we have developed some augmented reality hardware that will replace your smartphones in the future, and we have been working with universities that have state-of-the-art microtechnology that can be of benefit in hardware development. We have three main ambitions: to be a satellite integrator, a leader in optical and quantum communications, to spin off the augmented reality technology to other sectors beyond space. 2022 looks promising, as we are bidding with other companies for our part of Portugal’s Recovery Plan. If we are successful in this, we will be able to develop and deploy a constellation of satellites.

What are the main challenges characterizing the industry you are working in?

NA This is really a niche market where having an extremely skilled and stable team is a key asset. And that makes attracting and retaining top human capital the main challenge of Deimos. The market now is booming, people are needed, and Deimos is on the front line to welcome the best professional in space, but also in ICT and software. Our team in Lisbon is now 75 people. Overall, what we are seeing globally is a lack of people educated in STEM subjects in order to keep up with the requirements and pace of technology businesses worldwide. There’s a vibrant tech environment in Portugal right now, which is backed by a strong institutional vision and governmental push in making Portugal a reference in technology services, space being one of them.

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