Weekend Takeaway: 10 stories from a jam-packed week in science and technology

12 Oct 2018

Image: © Africa Studio/Stock.adobe.com

This week’s science and technology news tackled broadband, Budget 2019, climate change and mental health.

Government stresses it is still committed to a digitally connected Ireland

Stunning view of Valentia Island in Kerry, with green grass, jutting rocks and crashing waves in the deep blue sea.

Valentia Island. Image: © MNStudio/Stock.adobe.com

This week’s big breaking news moment came with the resignation of Communications Minister Denis Naughten, TD, amid controversy over the National Broadband Plan and his contact with the head of the National Broadband Ireland consortium, David McCourt from Granahan McCourt. Today (12 October), Minister Seán Kyne, TD, took his opportunity at the second National Mobile Phone and Broadband Stakeholder Forum in Co Galway to reassure stakeholders that a digitally connected society is still on the roadmap. Our editor John Kennedy was a keynote speaker at this event and will have more to come on this story. Make sure you’re caught up as this one continues to develop.

5 things SMEs need to know about Budget 2019

Euro coins stacked on top of each other.

Image: © weyo/Stock.adobe.com

Before this Government scandal hit the headlines, we started the week with a look at how Budget 2019 will impact employees, entrepreneurs, higher education, Brexit and even the climate. Reporter Ellen Tannam produced the final analysis of Budget 2019 with a look at the need-to-know details for Ireland’s small-to-medium businesses.

How to improve mental health in the workplace

A wooden surface with two wooden heads facing each other. One has broken jigsaw pieces showing poor mental health.

Image: © Catwoman/Stock.adobe.com

As well as the Budget and a watershed moment for this Government, this week marked World Menth Health Day on Wednesday (10 October), prompting our Careers editor Jenny Darmody to take a look at why it’s important to think about mental health in your working life as well as your personal life.

How to combat workplace stress before it begins to seriously impact you

Casual man looking fatigued while working with computer in dark office alone.

Image: © Alina/Stock.adobe.com

Speaking of maintaining our mental health, we could all do with referring to this infographic, spotted by Careers reporter Eva Short, from time to time. Tips on combating workplace stress include being prepared and remembering to take a breath.

How these ‘calming’ stem cells can help patients

Brown-haired woman wearing orange top and black blazer, with arms folded, standing in a hallway.

Dr Karen English. Image: Maynooth University

Feeling nice and relaxed? How about your immune system? This week, our Women Invent series profiled Maynooth University’s Dr Karen English, who is improving cellular therapies to calm the immune system. She spoke to Dr Claire O’Connell.

‘People are sometimes unpredictable, that’s what makes this research fun!’

Woman with short black hair, wearing pale blue shirt and black jumper, smiling in a hallway.

Henny Admoni is an assistant professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Image: CMU

Another researcher in our spotlight this week was Henny Admoni of Carnegie Mellon University, who wants to build the next generation of assistive care robots – but she’s not trying to make them ‘smart’.

Who are Nobel Prize winners William Nordhaus and Paul Romer?

Nobel laureate William Nordhaus giving a keynote talk.

Still from ‘William Nordhaus: The Economics of Climate Change’. Image: Becker Friedman Institute at UChicago – BFI/YouTube

A final research-themed shout-out has to go to the last of this year’s Nobel Prize winners, this time in Economics. With this week’s reporting from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change spelling out disaster (even though some climate scientists claim it didn’t go far enough), acknowledging the work of William D Nordhaus in climate change policy rings as particularly timely.

From investment banking to Spotify in 6 not-so-easy steps

A headshot of a smiling young woman with short hair and glasses. She works at Spotify.

Sam Young, senior director of content business unit operations, Spotify. Image: Spotify

Another person we’d like to introduce you to this week is Sam Young, senior director of content business unit operations at Spotify. Sharing with us her journey from investment banking to a dream role, Young said: “I always knew that, as a queer feminist, I wasn’t on the same wavelength as most of the people that I worked with in banking. That was bearable for the first few years, but over time it wore me down.” Find out how she made the change.

Vodafone’s Edel Briody: ‘Invest in building a healthy security culture’

Woman in black dress with blonde hair leaning against rail.

Edel Briody. Image: Vodafone Ireland

Advice for CIOs this week came from Vodafone Ireland’s Edel Briody. As head of corporate security, risk and compliance at the company, Briody discussed security culture and keeping up with the threat landscape. “I place a lot of emphasis on security culture and embedding it within an organisation. Our recent Cyber Ready Barometer highlighted that the more cyber-ready a business becomes, the better its overall business outcomes,” she told John Kennedy.

Inventive engineering takes top prize at Northern Ireland start-up showcase

A woman stands between two men on Belfast's waterfront holding an Invent award.

Julie and David Gray of Gray’s Clip with Gavin Kennedy (left) from headline sponsor Bank of Ireland UK. Image: Brian Morrison

The final highlight from this week’s collection of stories is my own visit to Belfast for the 2018 Invent Awards. With 12 innovative early-stage start-ups showcased on the night, this event was an impressive celebration of Northern Ireland’s STEM solutions.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.