Former UCC president Gerry Wrixon to receive Lifetime Achievement Award

21 Nov 2019

Image: © Kencana Studio/

MIDAS Ireland will present Prof Gerry Wrixon with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his pioneering work in the Irish microelectronics industry.

At this year’s MIDAS Ireland conference, taking place today (21 November) in Limerick, Prof Gerry Wrixon will be presented with the 2019 MIDAS Ireland Lifetime Achievement Award.

The award will be presented at a gala dinner this evening where Wrixon will present a keynote.

‘Little did I think then that the semiconductor industry would become such an enabling sector in today’s digital world’

MIDAS Ireland is an industry-led cluster comprising industry, educational, research and Government agencies working together to assist in the development of the electronics-based systems sector in Ireland.

Founded in 1999 as the Microelectronics Industry Design Association, MIDAS has more than 60 members from across Ireland including Analog Devices, Intel, Xilinx, Qualcomm, ARM and Decawave.

Microelectronics pioneer

In honouring Wrixon, the association recognises his pioneering contributions to this sector as founder and former CEO of the National Microelectronics Research Centre (NMRC), which was succeeded by the Tyndall National Institute in 2004.

Today, Tyndall – based at University College Cork (UCC) – is the largest research facility of its kind in Ireland, hosting almost 500 researchers, engineers and support staff.

“I am delighted to be honoured with such an award. When setting up the National Microelectronics Research Centre (now the Tyndall National Institute) in 1982, little did I think then that the semiconductor industry would become such an enabling sector in today’s digital world,” said Wrixon.

“All at NMRC/Tyndall are delighted to have played a part in setting Ireland on a path whereby today the sector has annual turnover of €9bn, supports over 8,000 highly skilled STEM-related jobs and commits 20pc of its income to ongoing R&D.”

Wrixon also served as president of UCC from 1999 until 2006, when he resigned one year after receiving Government approval to remain in the role until 2009, beyond the usual retirement date.

His leadership at the Cork university was not without controversy. Alongside successes including Irish University of the Year awards, increased funding and an uptick in student applications, Wrixon’s years as UCC president also came with high-profile legal actions and internal feuding.

Focus on AI

The theme of this year’s MIDAS Ireland conference, ‘Machine learning and artificial intelligence – the engines for digital transformation’, sets out to explore artificial intelligence (AI) technologies as a friend or foe.

The multinational and indigenous electronics companies in Ireland could stand to make great gains amid the rapid growth rate for AI semiconductors, as well as demands in cloud and edge computing, and storage. However, there are concerns to be addressed in this rocketing industry, such as the threat of job losses to automation, the integrity of data and trust in AI technologies.

“We look forward to many insightful contributions from leaders in industry and academia, as well as key insights from experts on high-performing cultures and the world of neuroscience as we explore the opportunities and challenges in this transformative technology for Ireland,” said Leonard Hobbs, general manager at MIDAS Ireland.

The conference and gala ceremony will take place at the Strand Hotel in Limerick. Speakers include Denis Doyle, GM of manufacturing operations at Analog Devices; Noel Murphy, director of engineering at Intel Movidius; Dr Sabina Brennan from Trinity College Dublin’s Institute of Neuroscience; and Gráinne Barry, VP of global business operations at Stats.

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.