Ireland’s Disruptive Tech Innovation Fund invests in 27 projects

10 Dec 2018

From left: Minister Heather Humphreys, TD; An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, TD; and RCSI CEO Prof Cathal Kelly. Image: Julien Behal Photography

Ireland eyes the future with projects ranging from community-based energy generation to photonics, new polymers and gene therapy platforms.

The first 27 projects from Ireland’s €500m Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) have been revealed, and will receive a combined €75m in support.

Projects include lasers for the future, a cooperative energy trading platform, the future beyond food labelling, smart cardio, automated AI systems, blockchain in the technology supply chain and more. The full list of approved projects can be accessed here.

‘Today’s schoolchildren will be employed in jobs and industries that don’t exist yet’

The projects highlight the coming together of the start-up, academic and multinational supply chains in Ireland. For example, one project focuses on the future of colorectal cancer diagnosis and treatment led by Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI), with Deciphex, IBM Research and University College Dublin as partners.

First revealed during the summer, the purpose of the DTIF is to drive collaboration between the research base and industry in support of the development and adoption of breakthrough technologies.

Future Jobs Initiative

“The creation of this fund is particularly timely when we consider the vast and rapid technological advancements that are taking place,” said An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD.

“Today, everything is faster, more efficient and more easily accessible. We must adapt to a future of greater digitalisation and automation. Today’s schoolchildren will be employed in jobs and industries that don’t exist yet. Technology will eliminate or transform existing occupations.

“We are currently developing a new plan, the Future Jobs Initiative, to meet these challenges and ensure we assist industry to create and sustain good jobs for our people in light of future challenges and opportunities,” Varadkar added.

More than 300 applications were made under the first round. Successful projects have made it through a highly competitive process involving screening by a panel of international experts.

“Disruptive technologies will significantly change the way that we work and live, and we need to embrace the changes coming our way,” the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, TD, said.

“A recent OECD study estimated that the average Irish worker faced a 46pc probability of being automated by the 2030s, so we cannot afford to stand still.

“We are lucky in this country to have amazing companies that are doing amazing things in technology, both indigenous and multinational. We also have world-class researchers, so there is a lot we can achieve by working together,” Humphreys added.

Innovation nation

Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon said the purpose of the DTIF is to ensure Ireland maintains its innovative edge.

“We see every day, through our market offices, how innovation is the key differentiator for Irish companies in competing and winning in global markets,” Sinnamon explained.

“The DTIF provides unique supports to ambitious SMEs and researchers to help them collaborate on the development of innovative technologies that have the potential to transform how markets and businesses work. The 27 proposals approved under this first call have the potential to be game-changers in their sectors, and to dominate in niche sectors globally. We look forward to continuing to work with these teams, to help them achieve their full global ambition.”

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