Govt and industry invest €22.4m in Lero software R&D centre

30 Jan 2012

Science Foundation Ireland and a consortium of top technology companies, including Intel and IBM, are investing €22.4m over the next five years in University of Limerick-based software engineering research centre Lero.

The investment comprises €16m from Science Foundation Ireland in second-term funding and an industry contribution of €6.4m.

The companies contributing to the industry investment include IBM, Intel, Information Mosaic, JBA Consulting, QAD Ireland, Kugler Maag CIE, Almir Business, Movidius, Lumension Security, Vitalograph, Storm Technology and Fineos.

As one of SFI’s Centres of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSETs), Lero has a team of 170 researchers and PhD students working on software applications such as urban traffic control, corporate compliance systems, medical devices, financial services, ICT, mobile communications and space missions.

Since its foundation, Lero has forged research partnerships with more than 70 multinationals and indigenous companies, including organisations like the European Space Agency and United Technologies Research Centre in Cork.

“This renewal SFI funding to Lero is in recognition of its research excellence and considerable impacts already delivered,” Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock, TD, said this morning.

“Crucially, it will also enable the Lero team to further deepen the level of collaboration with industry and provide for increased commercialisation opportunities for Ireland.”

Sherlock added: “The progressive approach already demonstrated by Lero is just what the country needs. This SFI award, allied to the very significant industry involvement and contribution, now affords Lero the opportunity to further our economic rehabilitation – both regionally and nationally.”

Sherlock also commended Lero on its inclusivity, with the centre drawing upon the software expertise of UL, UCD, Trinity College Dublin, DCU, NUI Galway and Dundalk Institute of Technology.

Breaking new ground in software engineering

The director of Lero, Prof Mike Hinchey, said Lero has ambitious plans to break new ground, intensify its collaboration with industry and generate an increase in commercial potential over the next five years.

“Today’s investment by Government and industry will serve to strategically support the realisation of those plans.”

Commenting on the announcement, Prof Fionn Murtagh, director of Information, Communications and Emergent Technologies at SFI, said: “Evolving Critical Systems – systems that change over time and where failure to operate correctly has serious negative consequences – are at the heart of Lero’s mission. The centre’s work in a diverse range of sectors has helped to place Irish software engineering research on the world map.”

Bill Kearney, director of IBM’s Software Lab Ireland, said: “We have a long-term relationship with Lero. We envisage future collaborative research with Lero in the areas of security, model-driven software development, cloud computing and large-scale software development.

“IBM has a long-running tradition of research collaboration with our colleagues in academia in Ireland. The goal of our collaborative initiative is to continue strong partnerships with the university ecosystem and ensure open innovation as a means to respond to our changing world.”

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