The opening of NetLabs, a €5m research building at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT)’s West Campus, will position the institute to help deliver 600 jobs for the south-east as part of its strategic plan to draw European funding until 2020.
Focusing on opportunities in areas such as the internet of things, the new building carries the potential of more breakthroughs, discoveries and world firsts by taking great ideas from the lab right through to the marketplace.
Opening NetLabs today, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said, “Over the past 10 years, WIT has been successful in securing more than €130m in research funding from national, EU and international sources and, in particular, in leveraging that funding to create real job opportunities in strategically important industries such as ICT, pharmaceutical and healthcare and advanced manufacturing.”
Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG) is a major driver in the emergence of a telecommunications industry in the south-east of Ireland.
In the last five years alone, TSSG has secured funding in excess of €10m under the Seventh EU Framework Programme (FP7), making it one of the most successful ICT research centres in Ireland.
“The institute has a proven track record in translating world-class research into market-ready products and services and has established an ecosystem of mobile service companies in the south-east and beyond, creating several hundred jobs directly and indirectly in the last 10 years,” said Dr Ruaidhrí Neavyn, president of WIT.
The ICT centre of excellence consists of more than 100 research scientists and engineers, 25 post-graduate students to PhD level, and manages an active international network in excess of 450 partners from industry, academic and research institutes spread across 35 countries.
An eye on the horizon
Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever, with nearly €80bn of funding available over seven years – in addition to the private investment this money will attract.
TSSG is strategically placed to leverage this funding, working with SMEs and indigenous companies to secure funding, the first phase of which is worth €50,000 to each SME.
Using Horizon 2020 as a vehicle of collaboration with industry, the NetLabs building will give indigenous industries in Ireland the capability to compete on a global scale. TSSG is committed until 2020 and beyond to help SMEs innovate, bring their products to market and create jobs to boost the Irish economy.
NetLabs has been funded under the Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions (PRTLI) Cycle 4 and co-funded under European Regional Development Fund.
Prof Willie Donnelly, founder of TSSG and head of Research at WIT, said, “TSSG aims through collaboration with industry, to double its research funding under the Horizon 2020 programme, which will impact greatly on not just the local economy but Ireland as a whole.
“Our aim is to work closely with industry to create almost 600 new jobs through the development of our core research, strong connectivity with indigenous industry, as well as large multinationals, supporting high-potential start-ups and partnerships with other institutes.
“We have created a critical mass of ICT industries in the south-east and will continue to be a hub for telecommunications excellence in Ireland,” Donnelly said.
Internet of things image via Shutterstock