Why Ireland is the AI island

3 Oct 2017

Wicklow Head Lighthouse. Image: Peter Krocka/Shutterstock

New IDA infographic confirms Ireland’s credentials as a global leader in the AI race.

Artificial intelligence (AI) represents the latest epoch in the compute continuum, and Ireland has been on the case for more than 25 years.

To that end, IDA Ireland has produced a new infographic that outlines how Irish research and Ireland-based companies have been setting the standards in AI for some time now.

It points to how companies such as Nora Khaldi’s Nuritas are using AI and genomics to produce healthy food; how IBM in Ireland has a strategic focus on the Watson AI platform; how Intel-owned Movidius is building future AI-based technologies to help devices think and see; how Accenture has its largest AI R&D hub in Dublin; how Veritas is empowering businesses to discover truth in information; and the work that Xilinx is undertaking in the world of neural networks.

Companies that have an AI presence established in Ireland include: Siemens, Zalando, SAP, HubSpot, Deutsche Bank, Amazon Web Services, Salesforce, Ericsson, Intel, Dell EMC, Microsoft, Fujitsu, Mastercard, Nokia Bell Labs, Huawei, LogoGrab and Soapbox Labs, to name a few.

The infographic also points to how research bodies such as Insight, Connect, Lero, the Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC), Tyndall, Adapt and CeADAR are powering breakthroughs in AI, data analytics, machine learning and more.

ICHEC is the sixth global Nvidia CUDA research centre, and CeADAR is a globally acknowledged centre of excellence in machine and deep learning applied to business problems.

The Insight Centre is now home to 450 researchers focused on AI, machine learning, data analytics and human machine interaction while the Adapt Centre is collaborating with Intel on a machine-learning tool that suggests multilingual keywords to improve global discoverability.

Meanwhile, IBM and local start-up Orreco have built the world’s first cognitive solution for sports that helps athletes to predict injury risk and readiness to perform.

The evolution of industry in Ireland

Ken Finnegan, chief technologist at IDA Ireland, told Siliconrepublic.com that Ireland is emerging as an important global testbed for trialling AI platforms and that the country boasts the highest number of EurAI fellows per capita.

“It is not a revolution, it is an evolution,” Finnegan said, pointing out that Ireland is the first country in the world to develop an industry-driven nationwide postgrad MSc in AI.

Finnegan pointed out how two collaborative workshops in the past year involving industry, government and academia have led to the creation of the master’s in AI.

“This wouldn’t have happened without the buy-in from industry.”

He added that while Ireland has played an important role in the history of computing, going back to George Boole devising the theory of logic at University College Cork in the 1850s, much of Ireland’s prowess in AI in recent years is down to the maturing and upskilling of tech companies in Ireland.

“IBM came to Ireland 61 years ago to do low-level manufacturing. Today, it is at the peak of capabilities in AI worldwide.”

Ireland AI Island

Why Ireland is the AI island

Infographic: IDA Ireland. Click to enlarge

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