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Awards show benefit of US investment in Irish innovation

US-Ireland Research Innovation Awards recognise excellent research being done

 

The inaugural US-Ireland Research Innovation Awards will be presented this Friday, May 15th, at the American Chamber of Commerce annual dinner in the Doubletree Hilton Hotel, Dublin. The awards, a joint initiative by the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) and the chamber, were established to recognise excellence in research innovation that has taken place on the island of Ireland as a result of US foreign direct investment.

Five nominees have been shortlisted for each of the three awards categories: innovation by the Irish operations of a US company; an Irish SME that has links with a US company; and an Irish higher education institute or research centre that has collaborated with US companies.

According to American Chamber chief executive Mark Redmond the standard of entry has been extremely high.

“We were just blown away by the entries and we are delighted with the quality of the shortlist. The SME category demonstrated the really great innovation that’s happening here in Ireland. It’s very encouraging to see the world-class stuff being done by Irish companies. Part of the motivation in establishing the awards is that we wanted to play a part in putting the spotlight on that work because people often don’t realise just how impressive it is.”

The entries from the US firms were no less impressive. “These companies are investing in amazing innovations which are impacting on people’s lives around the world and they are doing it here and not in the US. Part of what we do is promote the attractiveness of Ireland as a place to do world leading research and these awards show that the research going on here is up with the very best in the world.”

High standard

The awards are a joint venture with the RIA with support from KPMG, Ulster Bank and The Irish Times.

“The fact that the awards are being organised jointly with the RIA meant we know from the word go that we would be setting a very high standard,” Redmond said.

Craig Barrett, formerly of Intel, said back in 2010 that of the 14 reasons why Intel invested in Ireland in 1989 only one still existed and that was corporation tax,” says RIA policy and international relations secretary and chair of the awards judging panel Professor Peter Kennedy. “Last year, I was at an international forum in Amsterdam attended by 1,200 people. I spoke about the interaction between education and the multinational sector in Ireland and afterwards an American spoke and said that he saw jobs in his state of New Jersey disappearing and that they were going to Ireland because of our tax rate.

“I told him this was not right: the companies are coming to Ireland because of the highly trained people with the skills which they don’t find anywhere else. Ireland has become extremely attractive for high-tech companies and people with ideas wanting to do things.”

Kennedy believes the high standard of entries is evidence of this and proves that Barrett had got it wrong. He points to the development of the Intel Quark chip in this country as further evidence. He says the only part of Intel outside of the US that had a reputation for innovation was Israel.

“Israel was always held up as a model of how to do things right,” he says. “The multicore chip was developed there and that transformed Intel’s business. The Quark chip has now been developed in Ireland. Smart people are seeing that it’s good to come here and be around other smart people doing innovative things.”

The standard of the collaborative research in the higher education sector is also noteworthy, according to Kennedy.

Innovation

Niall Campbell of KPMG was surprised by the quality of the entries.

“The breadth and depth of the entries were much more impressive than I had expected. Sometimes people think of innovation as just tech stuff but there were some really good entries which focused on the operational business level,” Campbell said.

“There was also really good stuff in the life sciences and pharma areas. Our ambition should be to extend the leadership positions we have established in these areas to others like agri, the marine and services.” The brightest and the best in innovation: and the nominations are . . . US Company in Ireland Boston Scientific: Design and build of an end-to-end production line that manufactures a medical device every three seconds. IBM: Innovation in big data analytics for urban transport. Intel: Connecting research, design, silicon, software, solutions, manufacturing, customers and partnerships in the ‘internet of things’. Microsoft: Creating a new online sports experience on MSN.com for a global consumer audience. Xilinx: Designing a new class of programmable microchip enabling breakthrough power and computational performance.

Irish SME Aerogen: A next generation inhaled insulin product which will see an end to the numerous insulin injections currently endured by diabetic patients. Alimentary Health: Patented Irish probiotic that is helping millions of suffers of Irritable Bowel Syndrome manage this debilitating condition in Ireland and the US. Kinesis Health Technologies: A ground-breaking evidence-based technology which allows for earlier detection of mobility impairment and risk of falls in older adults that aims to advance the field of falls prevention. NUM Durance: Introduction of an autonomic machine-learning technology that has been shown to increase the life of flash memory, the key component in computer storage solid state disk, by a factor of 25. ResMed: An innovative radio frequency technology for non-contact respiration monitoring during sleep delivering breakthrough products for chronic disease management and personalised sleep advice. Higher Education Institute & Research Centre DCU: Pioneering fundamental research into how nerves control muscle activity, establishing platforms to develop effective treatments for debilitating movement disorders with Allergan Inc. National University of Ireland Maynooth: Partnering with Intel to co-found the Innovation Value Institute which has driven international research to globally transform how public and private sectors can get better business value and innovation when adopting technologies. Nibrt: Working with Waters Corporation, Nibrt developed and commercialised novel technologies for analysing the role of sugars in biologic medicines. UCC: Partnership with Lilly in Kinsale and Indianapolis focused on enhancing capability in pharmaceutical process development at the academic-industry interface. UCD: Developed with IBM a real-time correlation engine for automatic data collection, normalisation, run-time data analysis, and error identification for use in enterprise-level computer applications.