TCD computer scientist gets top innovation accolade

12 Apr 2012

Dr Gerard Lacey, left, pictured after winning the Enterprise Ireland ICT Commercialisation Award for Glanta in 2011. Also pictured is Feargal O'Morain of Enterprise Ireland and Minister Sean Sherlock. Image courtesy of TCD

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has presented its 2012 Innovation Award to computer scientist and technology entrepreneur Dr Gerard Lacey.

Each year the university bestows the innovation award to an individual or company that it feels has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of an entrepreneurial culture both within the university and society. 
Past winners include Chris Horn, the computer scientist, and co-founder of Iona Technologies. The company had the fifth-largest IPO in Nasdaq history.

Prof Igor Shvets, a physicist, entrepreneur and lecturer at TCD, has also been a past recipient of the innovation award. Shvets has established three campus companies at TCD, while he is also pioneering the Spirit of Ireland energy initiative.

Steven Collins and Hugh Reynolds, two academically trained researchers who went on to create the Irish games software company Havok, also gleaned the award in the past. The company recently announced that its physics and animation technology will play an integral role in games that will be developed for the next-generation Nintendo Wii U console.

TCD Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast presented Dr Gerard Lacey with his award a few minutes ago.

“The significance of this award is that it recognises the courage and excellence of an academically trained researcher who has exploited the results of his research in a highly competitive marketplace,” said Prendergast.

He said that the innovation award rewards role models within the university who can motivate students to follow their examples.  

“It is not just about new venture creation, but also the ability to develop graduates with entrepreneurial mindsets who can innovate in whatever careers they choose,” said Prendergast.

Gerard Lacey’s bio

Lacey is an associate professor in the School of Computer Science and Statistics at TCD. He is also a graduate of computer engineering at the university.

He went on to do PhD research on mobile robotic aids for visually impaired conditions in older people. Lacey founded his first company, Haptica, based on his thesis.

He also led the team that developed the ProMIS surgical simulator which haswon several innovation awards, including a European IST prize and the Irish Software Association technology innovation prize. Haptica was acquired by CAE Healthcare in 2011. 

Academia and technology transfer

Lacey returned to TCD in 2005 to resume his research and lecturing career.  

Along with his academic focus, Lacey co-founded a second company called Glanta in 2010 to commercialise the SureWash hand hygiene training system.

The aim of the system is to make hand hygiene training and compliance much less labour-intensive by combining an e-learning system with patented video measurement technology.

SureWash was developed over five years at TCD. It was subsequently trialled in Beaumont Hospital and by the UK Department of Health in the Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust.

A third element of Lacey’s research, the Wingwatch aircraft warning system, has been licensed to CMC Electronics.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic