New institution to ‘redefine’ ICT research in Ireland’s south-east

24 Mar 2021

The Walton Institute at WIT’s Carriganore campus. Image: Patrick Browne

WIT will now be home to the Walton Institute for Information and Communication Systems Science.

The research wing of Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) is evolving.

TSSG (Telecommunications Software and Systems Group) has been focused on ICT research at WIT since 1996. But now, this group is transitioning into the Walton Institute for Information and Communication Systems Science.

The awarding of research institute status to TSSG will be announced today (24 March) by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD.

It marks a significant boost for research at WIT, which has included projects focused on treating neurodegenerative disorders, as well as digital DNA storage, virtual reality tech, and using ICT to advance Covid-related research.

Two men in suits stand together in front of a neon green wall.

Dr Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, director of research at Walton Institute, and Kevin Doolin, director of innovation. Image: Patrick Browne.

“Formally announcing our institute designation today is a culmination of three years of effort from the team in TSSG and WIT’s research office,” said Walton Institute co-directors Dr Sasitharan Balasubramaniam and Kevin Doolin.

“Evolving from TSSG, Walton Institute will focus on redefining multidisciplinary ICT research that can result in major impact for society while encouraging a unique environment that will support researchers who want to pursue groundbreaking research.”

There are more than 80 researchers working at TSSG, collaborating with around 380 industry partners, and it is part of four Science Foundation Ireland research centres. In the last five years, it has secured funding of more than €120m under EU programmes.

As the Walton Institute, it will be the first research institute of its kind in the south-east of Ireland. It is named after Waterford-born physicist Dr Ernest Walton, who was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1951 for his work on splitting the atom.

The institute will focus on multidisciplinary research in the areas of future healthcare, intelligent transport systems, environmental protection, cybersecurity, smart energy and agritech.

Dr Mark White, VP of research, innovation and graduate studies at WIT, said the Walton Institute will be a “leading European research institute with ICT at its core”.

He added that it will bring socioeconomic value to the south-east by “contributing the research, innovation and ideas that are required by regional-based start-ups and SMEs to transform the ICT sector in the region, producing high-calibre postgraduates who will work for local industries and attract future FDI from major companies”.

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic