25 key people influencing the internet of things

6 Oct 2015

25 Irish or Ireland-based leaders, scientists and technologists influencing the internet of things. Image via Shutterstock

Irish and Ireland-based leaders, scientists and technologists are putting the country on the global map in terms of the internet of things (IoT) revolution.

IoT Makers Week graphic

It’s IoT Makers Week here at Siliconrepublic.com, and as well as explaining this wonderful new technology connecting everything and listing the companies putting it to work, we’ve rounded up the movers, shakers and makers to watch in this space.

1. Philip Moynagh, Intel

Vice-president of Intel’s internet of things division, Philip Moynagh is leading the chip giant’s charge into the IoT revolution.

After leading an entire chip fab for Intel in Ireland, Moynagh decided to take on a new project and led a 70-strong skunkworks team at Intel focused on the internet of things opportunity. In October 2013, that team delivered a fully working Galileo dev board powered by a Quark X1000 processor. Embossed on the device were the words ‘Designed in Ireland’, a massive statement, if any, that Ireland has every intention of riding the IoT wave.

2. Gaia Dempsey, Daqri

This summer, augmented-reality company Daqri announced plans to open its European HQ in Dublin, hiring 30 software and hardware staff for a development centre on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay. Leading the charge is Inspirefest 2015 speaker Gaia Dempsey, co-founder and managing director of Daqri International.

Dempsey is a creative strategist and pioneer in the field of augmented reality, driving the adoption of Daqri’s enterprise 4D technology worldwide.

3. Prof Brian MacCraith, DCU

One of the leading minds driving the internet of things opportunity from the ground in Ireland is the president of DCU, Prof Brian MacCraith. As well as hosting various hardware hackathons at the DCU Innovation Campus, Prof MacCraith has said that Ireland needs to capitalise on its well-deserved reputation as a creative and innovative space for ICT and use this as the catalyst for new industries and new entrepreneurs.

Among his initiatives, he has paved the way for the establishment of Dublin’s first TechShop on the DCU campus. This will ensure that students, entrepreneurs and individuals can use TechShop’s facilities like CNC machines and 3D printers to assemble products of the future.

4. Liam Casey, PCH

At the heart of the hardware revolution is an Irishman called Liam Casey whose Cork-headquartered PCH has revenues of over US$1bn a year and masterminds the design, manufacture and distribution of hardware, from the initial online order to the delivery at the customer’s door, anywhere in the world.

In recent years, Casey has been a key player in the emerging hardware start-up space, acquiring a design studio called Lime Lab in San Francisco, and establishing his own Highway 1 incubator programme. Earlier this year, Casey acquired Fab.com, a US hardware e-commerce site, for an undisclosed sum. Fab.com has the potential to be the go-to place for the next wave of internet of things gadgets.

5. Prof Willie Donnelly, TSSG (WIT)

From Ireland’s southeast to the world, the influence of Waterford Institute of Technology’s TSSG research engine is unparalleled.

In about a decade, the TSSG under Prof Willie Donnelly’s leadership has grown to spin out 10 direct companies that have created 600 jobs in the region. The research group was also the home of FeedHenry, the software company acquired last year by Red Hat for €63.5m, one of the largest acquisitions of an Irish campus company to date.

6. Lauren Morris, Vodafone

Not many people know this, but telecoms giant Vodafone has already activated 17m machine-to-machine (M2M) devices around the world, including 200,000 in Ireland. Leading the charge is Vodafone’s head of M2M in Ireland Lauren Morris.

In recent months, it emerged that Vodafone and EMC are jointly investing €2m in a new internet of things industrial test platform. Businesses will be able to use the platform to test solutions for IoT, in manufacturing, fleet management, machinery, household appliances, and even clothing that contains sensors and that can communicate with other machines.

“This new testbed will let them test out their prototypes, come up with new ideas and bring them to market,” Morris explained.

7. Dr Dirk Pesch, Nimbus Centre (CIT)

Dr Dirk Pesch is the head of the Nimbus Centre at Cork Institute of Technology. The Nimbus Centre is Ireland’s only dedicated research centre for networked embedded systems – the hidden computers found running mobile phones, machines in factories, domestic appliances and much more.

At Nimbus, the focus is on applying these systems to four key areas: energy, water, location-based services and management of the built environment.

Last year, 27 high-tech R&D jobs were created at Nimbus to support the expansion of the centre’s activities in the internet of things, and energy and water-management technologies.

8. Helen Dixon, Data Protection Commissioner

Ireland’s recently appointed Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon comes into the role at an interesting time. As well as dealing with landmark European judgements around ‘Safe Harbour’, the fallout of the Edward Snowden revelations, and, of course, protecting consumers in a data-centric world, Dixon is expanding the budget and headcount of the Data Protection Commission.

Dixon says that data protection regulators across Europe are conscious of the challenge posed by the internet of things, a world where billions of devices and sensors connected to the internet could be gathering too much data.

“We all know the statistics and projections in terms of the number of sensor-based devices we are going to have in five or 10 years’ time. Big data and the internet of things are areas of significant concern for regulators,” Dixon said.

9. David McKeown, Dublin Maker

The internet of things opportunity is going to be all about the makers. One of the pioneering tech makers in Ireland is rocket scientist and University College Dublin lecturer David McKeown.

Aside from gathering all of Ireland’s best innovators and makers into one spot in Dublin every summer for Dublin Maker, McKeown is also co-founder of another major Dublin-based maker event, Science Hack Day Dublin, which will be taking place on 14 and 15 November this year.

10. Dr Eleni Pratsini, IBM Research

IBM has been in Ireland since 1956 and continues to invest in the country, including a major research group focused on smart cities, where researchers investigate how advanced analytics and visualisation coupled with cloud and high-performance computing will meet the challenges of an increasingly urbanised world.

Heading up the IBM Research Lab in Ireland is Dr Eleni Pratsini, who oversees lab operations with lead projects looking at risk analytics, high-performance systems and building smarter cities. The research taking place here can have international impact, and the Irish IBM Research team has also been working with officials in Venice to develop tourism-based IoT solutions.

Her thoughts on smart city development in conversation with Siliconrepublic.com can be read here.

11. Kieran Hannon, Belkin International

Belkin is one of the world’s most innovative companies when it comes to the internet of things and its CMO happens to be Irishman Kieran Hannon.

Despite over 30 years in Silicon Valley, Hannon takes a keen interest in all things Irish and is a founding member of the Irish Technology Leadership Group and sits on the technology advisory board of Enterprise Ireland.

Belkin, which was founded in 1982 to create printer cables for the Apple II, has now devised a whole family of products around its WeMo platform aimed at bringing consumer devices from coffee makers to light bulbs into the internet of things.

12. Dr Kieran Drain, Tyndall National Institute

Named after one of Ireland’s most successful scientists, John Tyndall, the Tyndall National Institute has over 460 researchers, scientists and engineers pushing the boundaries of science and electronics. Achievements include five patents in 2014 alone, 10 spin-outs and a turnover of over €30m.

Its CEO, Dr Kieran Drain, has a strong entrepreneurial and industry background that includes leadership positions with Nanogram, Rambus, Catacel, Sirrus and EU research association EARTO. Key internet of things projects include an €82m alliance with TSSG to generate 10 internet of things start-ups.

13. Adam Grennan, Cisco

The potential economic impact of the ‘internet of everything’ economy is US$14trn for global private-sector businesses in the next 10 years, Cisco chair John Chambers has predicted.

Cisco is led in Ireland by country manager Adam Grennan, who is focused on the future of work and how it will be affected by the internet of things. He has a strong technology pedigree having previously held senior roles at Avaya, Cable & Wireless and Global One.

In Galway, Cisco has a 170-strong R&D centre dedicated to the future of the workplace, as well as developments in areas like IoT.

14. Prof Linda Doyle, Connect (TCD)

Inspirefest 2015 speaker Linda Doyle is a professor at Trinity College Dublin, in the department of electronic and electrical engineering. She is also director of Connect (formerly CTVR), the research centre for future networks and communications.

Connect is one of the five new Irish research centres to receive funding from Science Foundation Ireland. Research taking place here will address key challenges that face society via new and varied forms of networked services – including mobile internet, connected health, smart agriculture, smart grids and metering, and environmental monitoring services.

15. Prof Brian Caulfield, Insight Centre for Data Analytics (UCD)

Prof Brian Caulfield leads the connected health research programme at the University College Dublin (UCD) branch of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, which, as a joint initiative between four national universities, is Ireland’s largest research centre.

A physiotherapist by training, Prof Caulfield is also dean of physiotherapy at UCD and the lead investigator in Ireland’s industry-led connected health technology centre, ARCH. He is a champion for a connected health ecosystem in Ireland and has forged strong relationships with key clinicians, industry leaders, policy-makers and research groups to drive advances in the field.

16. David Moloney, Movidius

David Moloney, CTO of Movidius, has worked for over 20 years in the semiconductor industry and has a wealth of international experience having worked for Infineon (Siemens’ semiconductor division) in Munich for five years and SGS-Thomson Microelectronics in Milan for four years.

Moloney received a PhD from Trinity College Dublin in 2010 for his research into high-performance computer architectures, and he is now the inventor or co-inventor of 17 issued US patents, with additional patents pending.

His company, Movidius, has developed a chip that enables next-generation mobile devices to sense the dimensions of a room with accuracy, forming a core part of Google’s internet of things ambitions.

17. Jamie Cudden, Dublin City Council

Jamie Cudden is Dublin City Council’s smart city programme manager. He is responsible for the development of a smart city strategy and framework to address priority challenges that the city faces. This includes transport, environment monitoring, dealing with extreme weather events, energy efficiency and engagement with cities.

Cudden has led major initiatives such as the Intel Sensing City project, IBM smarter cities collaboration and the Dublin Dashboard. He is also a member of Dublinked, which is Dublin’s internationally recognised open-data initiative.

18. Grainne Murphy, Analog Devices

The global head of internet of things marketing at Analog Devices is Irishwoman Grainne Murphy, who works with internal teams and external partners to further Analog’s internet of things ambitions.

US electronics giant Analog Devices makes chips that feature in everything from vehicles to consumer electronics gadgets. The company employs 9,600 people worldwide, including 1,100 people in the design and manufacture of semiconductors in Cork and Limerick.

19. Ken Finnegan, IDA Ireland

Ken Finnegan is internet of things lead at IDA Ireland’s technology division and is razor-focused on ensuring Ireland takes advantage of its prowess and talent in terms of data and machines.

Finnegan is a technologist with 14 years of experience working in the technology sector, including D&B, XS Solutions and Eircom. He believes Ireland is the logical choice as the home of the internet of things and is convinced that the country’s strong base of industry plus academic collaborations facilitated by national research centres can put Ireland on the world stage for IoT-related breakthroughs.

20. Niamh Townsend, Dell

Earlier this year, Niamh Townsend was named general manager of Dell in Ireland. In June, Dell had opened its first European internet of things lab in Limerick, where it will work on technology widely considered the internet’s future.

The company’s first IoT lab was opened in Santa Clara, California in November last year, but the Limerick lab’s opening came at a time when the company launched its first IoT product release. These gateways, as Dell calls them, will make up the framework of an interconnected IoT infrastructure with the small, wireless or connected devices being used to collect, help secure and process sensor data at the edge of a network.

21. Bob Savage, EMC

A highly regarded leader of the tech sector in Cork, Bob Savage, vice-president and managing director of EMC Centres of Excellence EMEA, believes Ireland is poised to take part in the internet of things revolution in a big way.

In recent months, EMC and Vodafone invested €2m in the new Infinite IoT industrial platform that will traverse Cork, and which will provide facilities for the testing and exploration of technologies like machine-to-machine communications.

The IoT Innovation platform is spread across three data centres in Cork: EMC, Vodafone, and data centre and cloud provider Cork Internet eXchange.


22. Dr Martin Serrano, Insight Centre for Data Analytics (NUI Galway)

One of the foremost minds around the internet of things in Ireland, Dr Martin Serrano is an NUI Galway adjunct lecturer and scientific co-ordinator at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics.

At NUI Galway, the research centre investigates the convergence of software systems, the semantic web, the evolution of sensor technologies and unifying the physical and virtual worlds.

23. Brian Cahill, Nimbus Centre (CIT)

Brian Cahill manages the Mallow Systems Innovation Centre (MSIC) at Cork Institute of Technology’s Nimbus Centre.

MSIC creates the conditions through which innovative industry projects can be trialled in the small smart ‘city’ of Mallow before they get commercialised – a unique collaboration between a local community and a third-level institution. Individuals, SMEs and large industries have found this resource invaluable, and it’s Cahill’s job to guide these companies through the process of Enterprise Ireland funding for zero-risk innovation research.

24. Prof Rob Kitchin, Maynooth University

Prof Rob Kitchin is an advanced investigator for the European Research Council-funded Programmable City Project at Maynooth University. Taking the approach that software is essential to the functioning of cities, this project examines future urban planning, services, utilities and the lives of citizens. In particular, it focuses on how software makes a difference to how social, spatial and economic life takes place.

25. Traoloch Collins, Ericsson

Ericsson’s 1,600-strong Irish workforce is focused on building the tactile internet of things under the leadership of country manager Traoloch Collins.

Collins is also a council member of IBEC-based Telecoms and Internet Federation (TIF) and sits on the advisory board of NovaUCD.

Collins believes that today’s internet is just a communications mechanism, whereas, in the future through the internet of things, the internet will be tactile and capable of doing a whole lot more.

“For Ericsson, what’s exciting for us is that we are writing the software here in Ireland,” he told Siliconrepublic.com earlier this year.

25 image via Shutterstock

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