Five women pictured standing in a corridor holding VR headsets and immersive tech tools.
Tracey Donnery, executive director, Skillnet Ireland; Fiona Kilkelly, chair of Eirmersive; Susan Talbot, network manager, Immersive Technologies Skillnet; Camille Donegan, director, Eirmersive; and Pauline Logan, director of research and strategy, Pivotal EdTech. Image: Keith Arkins Media

More ‘robust’ talent pipeline needed for Irish immersive tech sector

26 Apr 2022

The sectors where immersive tech is most widely used include education and research, software development and training and skills.

The Irish immersive technology sector currently employs more than 750 people and is worth more than €43m. The sector has significant potential for future growth as 63pc of businesses in areas such as augmented and virtual reality expect to grow in the coming 12 months.

That’s according to a new report published by Skillnet Ireland in association with Eirmersive, an organisation that advocates on behalf of Irish businesses in the immersive tech industry.

Future Human

Eirmersive aims to position Ireland as a global player in the sector and build awareness of the potential impact of augmented and virtual reality technologies. However, the report highlighted a number of barriers in the way.

The Irish Immersive Economy report found that there is a skills gap in the sector as well as a lack of networking and knowledge sharing happening between businesses.

“Immersive technologies have evolved rapidly in recent years,” said Tracey Donnery, executive director, Skillnet Ireland. “For Ireland to be a global leader in this space, we need to ensure the immersive technologies talent base reflects not just current business demands but the challenges of future growth in existing and new markets.

“Central to achieving our potential in this space will be developing a robust skills and talent pipeline, a world-class research and development framework, and relevant business supports to start-ups and scaling up existing businesses.”

The report found that the immersive tech sector is not receiving sufficient funding to capitalise on market opportunities. It added that Ireland is also behind in terms of other countries when it comes to funding immersive tech.

However, investment within the sector itself is fairly robust. The majority of organisations surveyed for the report said they were certain they would either make a major investment (22.2pc) or explore new applications (40.5pc) over the coming year. A further 18.5pc said they saw a possibility that they would invest during the same period.

The majority (80pc) of Irish immersive tech businesses are exporting to Europe and internationally. The report identified that Ireland’s export opportunities were a major strength to build upon.

It also found that there was a relatively low awareness here in relation to the potential of technologies such as augmented and virtual reality. This could be rectified by building up the country’s immersive tech talent pool as well as creating a strong ecosystem for the sector to rely on and share knowledge.

The report also recommended that a new fund be put in place to harness the potential of immersive tech for businesses that might not be aware of its applications.

The sectors where immersive technologies are finding the widest application include education and research, software development and training and skills. Recently, Skillnet collaborated with TU Dublin to introduce a new course in powder handling for pharma manufacturing using virtual reality tech.

Susan Talbot, network manager for the Immersive Technologies Skillnet, said the report provides a “baseline for future research around the Irish immersive ecosystem”, while helping to “align thinking and aid key decision-makers moving forward”.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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