How Irish businesses are answering some of the world’s biggest questions
Enterprise Ireland's Julie Sinnamon and Carol Gibbons outline the innovative solutions Irish companies are developing to solve big global challenges
What kind of future do we want to imagine for ourselves, and for the planet? How we can improve the quality of life for all humanity? These are the kinds of future-facing questions that innovative Irish companies are answering, according to Julie Sinnamon, chief executive of Enterprise Ireland.
“They are big questions. They challenge and perplex us but they also drive us to find big answers. It is those answers that will help create a brighter future for all of us. People are increasingly searching for ways to capitalise on change, while ensuring it is the right kind of change - that helps people and the environment, that promotes diversity, or improves conditions for those in need,” says Sinnamon.
These questions require vision from innovators, who can look to the future and see the bigger picture, but also get things done now.
For Sinnamon, Irish businesses are at the centre of technological innovation and are driven not only by commercial imperatives but also by a desire for a fairer, more equitable future. “This is not just an aspiration. It’s something Irish businesses are achieving now. It’s why Ireland is the second largest medtech exporter in Europe and is a fintech leader across payments, regtech and funds. Ireland is also a global centre for agritech innovation and has a world-class record delivering large and complex high-tech construction projects internationally. Whatever the sector, Irish businesses are out in the world developing solutions to meet the toughest challenges facing it, bringing what we know to be the 'Irish advantage' to business partners on every continent," says Sinnamon.
In the 2017 European Innovation Scoreboard, Ireland was ranked number one for innovative capability
Irish companies are currently achieving international sales at record levels. “They are doing that by driving innovation,” says Carol Gibbons, department manager Digital Technology and director ICT Commercialisation at Enterprise Ireland.
“Innovation is a game changer in relation to a company’s ability to compete and, in the 2017 European Innovation Scoreboard, Ireland was ranked number one for innovative capability. That is what distinguishes us and enables us to compete in global markets. We have a global presence with offices around the world and people on the ground. We spend a lot of time talking to the international customers of our client companies. The feedback we consistently get is that Irish companies all go ‘the extra mile’,” says Gibbons.
“They look at the demands their customers are facing, talk to them about the markets they are in and the products they need, and then innovate to suit. That is how Irish companies compete globally and why so many are leaders in their market segments, with technology playing a key role.”
Ireland has a strong entrepreneurial agenda, is very agile in looking for international opportunities and has a highly educated, flexible workforce with a forward-looking mindset
Irish companies are improving lives around the world, with innovators such as Aerogen, the world’s leading medical device company specialising in aerosol drug delivery systems; and Nuritas, which combines artificial intelligence and genomics to discover and unlock natural bioactive peptides, changing lives worldwide.
Sustaining growing populations is an issue on a global scale and Irish companies are aiming to provide solutions to this complex problem. For example, Moocall, a specialist in sensor-based herd management software, and TerraNutriTECH, which automates animal nutrition to improve herd health. Businesses are also creating solutions to preserve the environment for the next generation; C&F Green Energy are powered by a mission to make wind energy affordable, and NVP Energy, take wastewater from production lines and turn it into an energy source.
Ensuring humans get the most from machines is critical for companies such as Aylien, a developer of AI-driven content analysis solutions that make it easy to understand vast amounts of human text using deep learning and advanced natural language processing; Artomatix, creator of the world’s first 3D art engine; and Pointy, a revolutionary new system that automatically displays retailer’s products online, using algorithms and machine learning to estimate stock levels and helping traditional retailers compete with e-commerce ones.
With the help of innovators, we can seamlessly merge the physical and digital words. Companies focused on this include Soapbox Labs, who develop speech recognition solutions specifically for children’s voices to ensure the highest accuracy possible; RecommenderX, which uses machine learning to guide enterprise teams to better, data-driven decision making; and VR Education, whose virtual and augmented software is changing how education and training is delivered.
Irish companies are also at the forefront of connecting people in an easy, secure and fair manner. Pioneers in this area are AID:Tech, who use blockchain technology to revolutionise how governments, corporations and NGOs deliver charitable aid and benefits across the world and Sysnet Global Solutions, who are developers of compliance security solutions that protect us online.
That there are many more innovative Irish companies just like these is down to a unique environment. “Ireland has a strong entrepreneurial agenda, is very agile in looking for international opportunities and has a highly educated, flexible workforce with a forward-looking mindset,” says Gibbons. “They are supported by initiatives such as Technology Centres, which bridge commercial knowledge with academic research, ensuring Irish companies are ready for future developments, particularly in relation to artificial intelligence and machine learning.”
The business community is supported by a world class R&D ecosystem and operates alongside some of the world’s biggest names in technology, life sciences and financial services, all areas for which Ireland is a global hub. The result is that Irish companies grow up meeting the standards of global leaders.
Ireland is a country where entrepreneurs are held in high esteem at home, and are ambitious for success abroad.
They succeed not despite coming from a small island in the Atlantic Ocean, but because of it. “We have always been outward looking,” says Gibbons. “We are natural networkers and we gain through our networks. It means that when we look at a new market, we can gain good entry quickly. That’s a real positive.”
“Don’t be deceived by our size,” concludes Sinnamon: “we’re a small country that makes a big impact.”
Irish businesses are making a global impact, delivering innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges and bringing the Irish advantage to business partners worldwide. For more, visit irishadvantage.com.