Six of Ireland’s leaders in AI revealed at major awards showcase

22 Nov 2018

From left: Cathriona Hallahan, Brian Murphy, Oksana Semenova, Mark Kelly and Andriy Temko. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

The inaugural AI Awards ceremony for Irish-based companies, research groups and scientists has revealed six of the country’s best leaders in their field.

Organised by the not-for-profit group AI Ireland, the AI Awards announced today (22 November) were launched to highlight some of the impressive goings-on in the country when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and data science.

Held at the Gibson Hotel in Dublin, the awards were split among six major categories. The first of these was AI in Sector, with the gong going to Nuritas, a familiar name to readers.

Founded by Dr Nora Khaldi, who is also its chief science officer, Nuritas is using AI to discover molecules that could contribute to great breakthroughs in the life sciences sector. Earlier this month, the start-up announced that it found one such ingredient, which can be added to sports products such as energy drinks and nutrition bars to potentially improve post-exercise recovery by reducing inflammation.

It has also caught the attention of a number of investors, including Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and U2 band members Bono and The Edge.

The second award winner was named as the Irish Centre for Foetal and Neonatal Translational Research (INFANT), based at University College Cork, in the Academic Research category.

The centre’s AI-based work has been patented, published in top clinical and engineering journals, and licensed to medical manufacturers. Some of its discoveries are undergoing worldwide clinical trials.

McKesson was named winner of the Large Enterprise category as a global healthcare services and IT company. Through its relatively new software innovation team, McKesson Labs, the company is creating a range of AI cybersecurity applications aimed at tackling the threat of breaching critical patient data.

The remaining winners

The winner of the StartUp award was named as EdgeTier, a Dublin-based company that has developed an agent assistant system dubbed ‘Arthur’. Aiding human agents in customer contact centres, Arthur analyses and understands text-based customer queries, prompts agents on what actions to take, and delivers personalised experiences.

Voysis, based in Silicon Docks in Dublin, was named winner of the Consumer/Customer Service award for its voice AI platform that enables natural language instruction, search and discovery across consumer and enterprise applications. It utilises speech recognition and natural language processing and understanding, as well as deep learning and text-to-speech capabilities.

Finally, at an individual level, University College Dublin’s Niamh Donnelly was named as the Student Project award winner for her AI-led research in population growth, urbanisation and global warming. Her project demonstrated that significant improvements in canopy coverage prediction accuracy could be achieved using convolutional neural networks.

Cathriona Hallahan, general manager of Microsoft Ireland (one of the sponsors of the event), said: “These awards are a recognition of the advances that are making AI more powerful, impactful and prevalent than ever before, and shows [sic] how much of an opportunity it presents.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic