Innovation 2010 – looking back on the year

28 Dec 2010

A digest of some of the top R&D and innovation stories of 2010.


Young scientists show how kids are the real smart economy we should be investing in – The year got off to a roaring start at the BT Young Scientists’ Exhibition – Smart kids, smart technology and high-speed broadband will be integral to the nation’s future.

Crospon spins out new firm to develop HP intellectual property – Galway medical device developer Crospon spun out a new company, Janisys, to focus on the development of a drug-delivery platform that uses HP’s inkjet printing technology to enable painless, controlled drug release from a patch to the skin.


Ireland must learn to commercialise its research – Ireland’s research bodies must learn to emulate the example of the Apple iPhone – an innovative product packaged with value-added services – if they are to derive value from their investment in research.

Nanotech breakthrough to revolutionise microchip manufacturing – A team of scientists at the Tyndall National Institute designed and fabricated the world’s first junctionless transistor that could revolutionise microchip manufacturing in the semiconductor industry.


Ten new spinouts emerge from Trinity College -Ten new spin-out firms emerged out of research commercialised at Trinity College in the areas of ICT, bioscience and physical science.

Govt report vows commitment to R&D, green economy – Creating sustainable jobs and growing exports through key areas including heavy investment in R&D and innovation, broadband infrastructure and a €1bn-plus green stimulus package were outlined in the Jobs and Growth 2010 report published by the Government.

Ireland positions itself as a global ocean tech hub – A new innovation strategy to bring together Ireland’s ICT sector and marine natural resources to tap into global markets was unveiled.

Capitalise on your inventions, Europe, EU commissioner warns – Europe has to improve upon capitalising on its inventions, said Máire Geoghegan Quinn, the European Union’s Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science.


Science writer Singh wins landmark libel case – Simon Singh, the BAFTA award-winning director and presenter, and author of science books Fermat’s Last Theorem, The Code Book and Big Bang, won a “resounding victory” in the English court of appeal in a libel case that threatened to stifle scientific debate.

Inventor of the first personal computer dies – The man who created the world’s first personal computer and who inspired Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Paul Allen to revolutionise the PC industry passed away.


Irish lab creates materials for see-through electronics –  The Tyndall Institute in Cork signed a licence deal with international material technologies firm Umicore to jointly develop a novel material for transparent electronics.

EU energy ministers seek funding for super grid – European energy ministers are working together to secure funding as part of an EU funding review that will allow them to build the interconnects and smart grids needed for the transmission of renewable energy across the EU, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan TD told a Green Economy conference.


NUI Galway signs memorandum of understanding with Chinese university – A formal memorandum of understanding between National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) and Ocean University of China (OUC), Qingdao was signed in June.

Irish have below average interest in science – A Europe-wide survey on science and technology found that while 79pc of the average EU citizen has some interest in these subjects, only 71pc of Irish persons do in comparison to 89pc of the Dutch and 87pc of those in the UK.


Ireland’s next big thing – Govt commits extra €5m to Exemplar Network – The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan TD committed a further €5m to the next two phases of the Exemplar Network which will see the Exemplar Network grow from circling Dublin in the second phase to being a nationwide entity by the third phase in 2013.

Forfás appoints new chief executive – Forfás, the policy advisory board for enterprise and science announced the appointment of Martin Shanahan as chief executive.


Points for science courses rise dramatically – With a rise in points for 700 college course in third-level institutes throughout the country there was, in particular, a noticeable rise in the number of points required for science courses.

WIT researchers to lead €15.8m EU SOCIETIES project – Researchers at Waterford Institute of Technology’s Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG) have been awarded the leadership of SOCIETIES – a €15.8m EU project aiming to revolutionise how businesses work and how emergency services respond in the face of disaster.


Irish energy firm riding the crest of investment wave – The US government has awarded an Irish energy company with funding for further development of ocean energy technology.

EU makes massive €780m investment in ICT research – As part of its Digital Agenda to transform Europe’s social and economic fortunes, the European Commission has unveiled one of the biggest grant funds ever made into ICT research. Some €780m will be invested under Framework Programme 7


R&D could potentially create 3.7m European jobs – There is a potential to generate 3.7m jobs if research and development investment increase by as little as 1pc.

Trinity College provides online access to its research – Trinity College adopted a policy similar to that of MIT, Harvard and Stanford to make its scholarly articles available to the public for free online, in a move aimed at broadening access to its research and scholarship.

Science body backs 600 research-industry links for ‘smart’ jobs

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Batt O’Keeffe TD recently announced the Government’s science agency, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), has backed more than 600 partnerships between research teams and firms last year.


Georgia Tech beams HD science lessons to Irish schools – Researchers at Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) in Atlanta pioneered a new teaching programme where high-definition cameras are placed in labs to enable researchers to interact with primary and secondary students in real-time.

Dublin student wins Irish James Dyson award – A new type of ski boot, the Flip Ski Boot, has earned Dublin student Brian Byrne, 23, the Irish James Dyson award.

Biggest number of entries for BT Young Scientists in 47 years – The 2011 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition received the highest number of entries in its 47-year history, with a record-breaking 3,943 students across Ireland taking part.

Ireland needs to revise its 3pc GDP target for R&D upwards – Former Intel CEO Craig Barrett said that the 3pc target for investment of GDP into R&D for Ireland is no longer a reasonable target and called for increased State investment in R&D projects. A 5pc objective, already achieved by Israel, would be more like it, he said.

First logging-as-a-service tool for the cloud wins NovaUCD award – A software development company, JLizard, won NovaUCD’s 2010 Start-Up Award, thanks to its cloud-based product, which lets organisations reduce the time needed to analyse log data of its IT systems from days to minutes.

Silicon Valley mentorship starting up in Ireland – The Silicon Valley Mentorship Programme has been launched at the University of Limerick (UL), bringing with it senior Silicon Valley executives to Ireland for a series of tie-building events.

Irish companies are among EU’s most innovative – Seven per cent of Irish companies experienced innovation activity between 2006 and 2008 and Ireland can boast a higher than average global exports record, a European Commission (EC) survey suggests.

Govt may be killing smart economy by taxing patent royalties –  The Government revealed just how little faith it has in its vaunted “smart economy” by proposing the abolition of the one incentive SMEs had to create their own intellectual property (IP) – patent royalty tax exemptions – a leading patent lawyer has angrily railed.

Ireland wins €269m from European R&D fund – Researchers from Irish companies and higher education institutions won funding totalling €269m since 2007 for research projects in areas like ICT, health, nanotechnology and energy.

State invests €19m in SFI-funded biomedical R&D institute – The Government invested €19m in Science Foundation Ireland’s new Biomedical Diagnostics Institute (BDI), which has just opened a new research facility at DCU.

Accenture to create 100 new R&D jobs in Dublin – Accenture revealed plans to create 100 new IDA Ireland-supported jobs at a new centre in Dublin over the coming four years.

Irish medical apps win top European award – A Galway-based medical education software visualisation company was been awarded at this year’s European Media in Education Awards (MEDEA) in Brussels.


Google funds semantic web researcher – An NUI Galway researcher at the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI), has won a research award from Google to work on the future of mobile social networking apps to let users own their data again.

Is this a Budget that will deliver the smart economy? – The personal impact of what has been the most painful Budget since the founding of the State in how affects the take-home pay of ordinary people and those most in need of support has been well debated and discussed. But what about the smart economy?

Irish clean-tech start-up creates the ‘EcoBike’ – GreenEgg Technologies is the first clean-tech start-up to emerge from the Irish clean-tech hub An tSlí Ghlas – The Green Way. GreenEgg is launching its initial innovation, the EcoBike, today.

Industries of the future – We looked at the industries of tomorrow that will put our economy back on the path to prosperity.

Avego introduces R&D investment programme, to create 35 jobs – Avego revealed it will expand its facilities in Kinsale, Co Cork, seeing the company undertake a major R&D investment programme and creating 35 new jobs over the next three years.

HP to create 105 software R&D jobs in Galway – HP announced it is adding 105 new jobs at its Global IT organisation in Galway which focuses on HP’s Enterprise Business (EB) unit.

Bank of Ireland creates €17m fund for innovative firms -The Government with Bank of Ireland unveiled a new €17m fund aimed at funding innovative new firms that are creating high-quality jobs.

Alarm at Ireland’s falling maths performance in PISA study  – PISA, the OECD group responsible for measuring maths and literacy performance by students worldwide, has found Ireland significantly below the OECD average for maths, causing alarm among industry groups.

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