Siliconrepublic.com sits down with Kevin Fitzgibbon, Water Innovation Centre coordinator at Nimbus, to discuss water management in Ireland, and why a rainy climate has little impact on whether or not taps are working.
Water is not a problem in Ireland; it’s everywhere. Rain, perhaps, doesn’t fall as regularly as complainers like to say, however, it’s not like the clouds shortchange us. The problem for people in water management, though, is getting the right amount of water to the right places at the right time. The quality of this water, too, is key.
“Water quality is a challenge,” said Fitzgibbon, noting “exotic compounds” making their way into our environment and ending up in our water. Pesticides, pharmaceuticals and the like are expensive to remove, but must be.
A way to handle these growing issues is the creation of a three-way partnership for a new innovation centre, and in Cork there sits just that. The Water Systems and Services Innovation Centre (WSSIC) was set up a number of years ago when Cork City Council, Cork County Council and Cork Institute of Technology put their heads together.
Nimbus knows all
Located at the Nimbus research centre, WSSIC brings together dozens of researchers, and is open to companies looking to innovate water services or products, offering expertise where needed.
“The main opportunity is to bring water-related ideas to us and see how we can help you,” explained Fitzgibbon. The researchers are in fields like hardware, software, wireless communications networks, data analytics, app creation and beyond.
“We like to think of ourselves as a centre for the internet of things. If companies have ideas in the water sector or any other, we can help them turn those ideas into reality.”
Looking at everything from water quality monitoring to leakage and remote management, WSSIC’s current projects involve embedded system design, wireless technologies, website design, programming, optics, sol-gel and polymer chemistry, electrochemistry, miniaturisation, case studies and workflow design.
Innovations like valves that save water and energy, pioneered by Accuflow, were proved to be successful by WSSIC experts. Subsequently, that product was marketed around the UK and Ireland as a viable product.
Water monitoring buoys along the River Liffey, too, are examples of WSSIC-supported innovation to help further water management capabilities throughout the country.
“We’re having a real and measurable impact in the Cork area, as well as nationally,” said Fitzgibbon.