Ireland launches enterprise forum to support digital and AI strategies

4 May 2022

Image: © dizfoto1973/

Experts from Ireland’s tech and science communities will advise the Government on how enterprises can ‘continue to embrace digitalisation’.

A new Enterprise Digital Advisory Forum has been launched to support the Government in driving the digitalisation of enterprise across Ireland, with members from businesses including Google, Microsoft and IBM.

The forum brings together representatives from indigenous enterprises and multinational companies along with digital technology experts. It was established and chaired today (4 May) by Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Robert Troy, TD.

The forum is designed to help support enterprise aspects of Ireland’s National Digital Strategy, which was published earlier this year, and the National AI Strategy launched last year. It will allow members to provide feedback to the Government on various challenges and opportunities they identify in terms of digitalisation.

“The digital economy presents huge opportunities for Irish SMEs to improve services, enhance customer experience and increase competitiveness,” Troy said. “I want to support those Irish businesses to make that transition; to build on the positives of the past two years and continue to embrace digitalisation and all it can offer.

“By doing this, we can future-proof our economy in the years ahead,” Troy added.

A total of 16 members from Ireland’s tech and science communities joined the forum following an open expression of interest call and an assessment process.

Departments and organisations involved in the forum include IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, the LEO Centre of Excellence, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Department of the Taoiseach.

“I am determined to drive a real step change in the level of digitalisation across all enterprises – by 2030, I want 90pc of SMEs to have achieved basic digital intensity,” Troy said.

“With the insights of the experts on the forum, we can work to help realise the benefits of those technologies for Irish enterprise of all sizes.”

Forum members

Here are the 16 individuals who have joined Ireland’s Enterprise Digital Advisory Forum.

Allan Beechinor is the CEO and co-founder of Altada, a former Start-up of the Week that helps businesses unlock the potential AI technologies. It has developed its own proprietary deep-learning algorithms, predictive models, computer perception algorithms and knowledge extraction systems.

Shona D’Arcy is the CEO and co-founder of Kids Speech Labs, a software company that has built technology to help children in their speech and language development. In March, it was one of three women-led Irish start-ups selected to receive funding and mentorship from the Women TechEU scheme.

Terri O’Donovan is the digital and technology site lead of pharma company Janssen Sciences Ireland, which is part of Johnson & Johnson. The company has a growing presence in Ireland, with plans to create 180 new full-time jobs following an expansion in Cork.

Aidan Kehoe is the CEO and co-founder of Skout Cybersecurity, an Irish business acquired by Barracuda last year, which provides a cloud-native data analytics platform for SME cybersecurity.

Prof Barry O’Sullivan is the founding director of both the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Insight Research Centre for Data Analytics and the SFI Centre for Research Training in Artificial Intelligence. Last month, the University College Cork professor was also elected a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.

Tanya Thompson is the CTO of Sluamor, an online platform that helps to bring companies together so that they can grow their businesses, find new suppliers and create partnerships.

Edward McDonnell is the director of CeADAR, Ireland’s centre for applied AI research, which recently announced a partnership with health-tech start-up xWave Technologies to make medical testing more predictive and personalised.

John Clancy is the CEO and co-founder of Galvia, previously called Chatspace, an AI platform that provides insights to help enterprises increase productivity and deliver better business results. The company was a Start-up of the Week in 2020.

Dr Patricia Scanlon is the founder of SoapBox Labs, the Dublin company that develops voice technology for children.

Barry O’Brien handles government and regulatory affairs for tech giant IBM in Ireland.

DC Cahalane is director of the First Fridays programme at Dogpatch Labs, which also runs the NDRC national accelerator programme, and was previously the CEO of Cork’s Republic of Work.

Eoin Costello is the project director of Digital HQ, which helps communities and businesses transition to the digital economy by delivering training in digital growth strategies, networking and co-working.

Kieran McCorry is the national technology officer for Microsoft Ireland.

Lorraine Higgins is the secretary general of Digital Business Ireland, a not-for-profit representative body that has more than 8,000 businesses as part of its community.

Kathryn O’Donovan handles government affairs and public policy in Northern Europe for tech giant Google.

Erik O’Donovan is the head of digital policy at Ibec, one of Ireland’s largest lobby and business representative groups.

Updated, 8.10am, 5 May 2022: This article was updated to include DC Cahalane’s most up-to-date job title.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic