The digital business week

26 Apr 2010

A digest of the top business and technology news stories from the past week

Intune Networks to create 80 new jobs

Eighty jobs are set to be created by Irish company Intune Networks as it develops a new high-tech communications network.

The Government has announced it is investing €5m in Intune to allow it to develop an exemplar communications test bed, the technology for which was invented in Ireland by two graduate students from UCD.

Intune is developing this technology, which could potentially replace the thousands of silicon computer chips used in internet switches today. As a result, it can eliminate costly bottlenecks of data on networks and allow the high-speed, low-energy, high-quality transfer of data. The subsequent dramatic reductions in the amount of energy used also make this technology an attractive prospect for major international companies.

The test bed, which will be 100pc-owned by the Government, will be built in Park West Business Park in Dublin and will be open for business, on an open-access basis, in July of this year, creating 80 jobs in its first phase.

Horn tells it like it is

Dr Chris Horn, president of Engineers Ireland and co-founder of Iona Technologies, has said that Irish society is reeling from past arrogant incompetence but now must focus on ingenuity and more effective regulation to rebuild towards a just and prosperous future.

The comments were made as part of the opening address to conference delegates on the first day of the Engineers Ireland Conference 2010 in Cork.

Horn said Ireland needed better processes across every facet of its society to restore public confidence and boost economic recovery.

“As a result of the failures in our society and in our systems, many of the public are disillusioned and frankly apprehensive about the future. Professionals in many disciplines, from banking, to medicine, to the religious have been damaged by scandals. There are many investigations to be had, many fingers to be pointed and many lessons to be learnt. But life must go on, too. There is a time and place for post mortems on the Celtic Tiger but our current national priority must be on urgently rebuilding our economy.

Eirgrid upgrade to spark 300 jobs

The upgrade and redevelopment of Ireland’s electricity network, Eirgrid, is to create 300 jobs, mainly through sub-contracting work on the network.

Eirgrid will directly create about 30 of the jobs, while 200 people will be employed building power lines and sub-stations. Another 50 jobs will exist in the professional service sector.

Much of the infrastructure to be built will be used to get electricity generated on the west coast to the east of the country, with nearly 3,500km of transmission lines to be installed during the upgrade.

Eamon Ryan, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, said that ultimately, the grid must be built.

“While we have met our 15pc target for renewables and reached second or third place in Europe in terms of integration of wind in our system, we will not make progress unless we build our grid to tap into the potential resources available to us. We need a transmission grid, not only to enable us to transmit wind power to different counties but also to create jobs in these counties.”

By 2020, 40pc of Ireland’s electricity will be generated by wind, estimates say.

NovaUCD creates 30 new jobs since start of 2010

A total of 30 new high-tech jobs have been created at client companies of UCD’s technology transfer centre NovaUCD since the start of the year, jobs which the centre says are key to the long-term development of Ireland’s smart economy.

The first four months of 2010 have also seen four new start-ups – Cernam, LogScreen, SmartBuilder Software and Tethras – locate at the tech transfer centre. Tethras, established earlier this year by Brian Farrell and Brendan Clavin, is developing web-based localisation tools for smartphone application developers, and already employs seven people. Other NovaUCD companies which have taken on new staff include Aonta Technologies, BiancaMed and Enzolve Technologies.

50pc of firms get broadband speeds more than 10Mbps

Irish firms are spending 15pc less on mobile services and 60pc of firms are still getting their internet services from incumbent Eircom. Up to 92pc of Irish firms today have internet access and four out of 10 have switched mobile provider in the last year.

The latest Comreg business survey reveals that the recession is continuing to impact on telecoms spending by businesses but indicates that in areas like mobile, firms are willing to shop around.

But not so, it appears, in fixed line. The survey’s revelation that 67pc of businesses are now supplied by Eircom as a sole fixed line provider and that Eircom provides 57pc of businesses with internet access (a 9pc drop in the last five years) is a cause for serious concern, warned telecoms group ALTO.

In fixed line, however, little has changed with only four out of 10 firms opting for internet services from competitors to incumbent Eircom. The survey, based on research conducted by Millward Brown Landsdowne during February and March, involved 497 SMEs with less than 100 employees and 53 corporates with more than 100 employees.

Tech giant IBM to cut 200 Dublin jobs

Some 200 jobs are to go at technology giant IBM in Dublin as the company moves its server manufacturing section overseas.

The company is in talks with employees to implement voluntary redundancies. IBM, which is based in Mulhuddart in Dublin, is transferring its server manufacturing section from Dublin to Singapore.

“This change provides a more strategic location for manufacturing operations, placing us closer to our growth markets and suppliers, and giving us greater operational efficiency and cost savings,” IBM said in a statement.

Photo: Dr Chris Horn, president of Engineers Ireland and co-founder of Iona Technologies

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years